Cyber security awareness training helps organisations prevent and mitigate user risk. A security awareness program helps people understand the vital role they play in helping to combat cyberattacks – at work or at home.

According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:

All businesses can benefit from understanding cyber threats and online fraud.”

We spoke to Jon, Sapphire’s Technical Services Manager, to find out more about security awareness training and why being cybersecurity aware is important.

What is the objective of cyber security awareness training?

Cyber security awareness training objective is to ensure that employees understand the role they can play in helping to enhance and enforce the organisations’ security. From understanding data protection requirements to being able to spot the telltale signs of a phishing email, your employees are your first and foremost defence against a security breach.

One of my roles at Sapphire is to help organisations identify the skills gaps in their staff through various methods including simulated phishing testing. Training is then used to fill those gaps and embed a culture of cyber safety.

Security Awareness Training

Why is cyber security awareness training necessary?

Practical security awareness training helps employees understand cyber hygiene, the security risks associated with their actions, and identify cyberattacks they may encounter via email and/or the web.

I think it’s important to keep staff updated on the most prevalent threats. We want to get training out to people before a critical incident occurs.  A “little and often” approach can work well, keeping security in the forefront of the users’ minds with the added benefit of not taking too long out of their busy day.

How do you measure cyber security awareness training?

We record the metrics of attendees and see what their actions have been after training. For example, a month after a module delivered on phishing emails results in someone from the course clicking on a phishing email, we know we have a problem. This is not just about phishing. It’s important to record the uptake and metrics around all training as that can assist in compliance certification to demonstrate, for example, that staff have been trained on GDPR or Anti Bribery.

So, what is your role? 

It is the job of the Sapphire team to reinforce training and awareness by engaging people positively. Security awareness training is a way to ensure that you are protecting your organisation. Employees can also benefit from training outside of working hours.

An effective security awareness training program will give you the necessary cyber skills for your personal life. Who hasn’t received phishing emails and or texts? Additional learning can keep you safe at home.

It is also important not to be mistaken that you have addressed the training needs. We live in an ever-changing world, and constant awareness of new threats or changes to the business is crucial.

Security Awareness Training

How and when should cyber security awareness training occur?

Some organisations are reactive in that they will turn towards security compliance or training initiatives once there have been data breaches. There is nothing wrong with that, and when security issues arise, they often need help in mitigating and reducing risks.

Ideally, we encourage organisations to educate employees before a breach occurs.

I believe in knowledge retention. In the cyber security landscape, it is good practice to send out regular tests and work with organisations to ensure the topics are still fresh in the employees’ minds. For example, our team delivers post-training phishing simulations and analyses the results to see where the knowledge gaps are.

We deliver training based on a few different factors to ensure employee engagement.

It is helpful to keep staff updated on the most prevalent threats. At Sapphire, we react to high-profile cybersecurity news, information from consultants, and information fed in from our SOC (security operations centre) via Sapphire’s threat intelligence service.

As our teams’ experience and knowledge are vast, we offer much more than just a guide to security awareness. Our team has a broad remit from awareness courses around data protection to policy management and dissemination. The service must be tailored to the requirements of the organisations that we work with.

Can you give an example?

Say our analysts have seen something around password attacks. We can then create training for end-users on creating strong passwords and using passwords safely.

And how is cyber security awareness training delivered?

We deliver training through cloud-based systems. This gives organisations and their staff access to easily consumable content (via Sapphire’s online portal). With many organisations having a remote workforce, all staff receive the same level of learning despite their location.

How does a cyber security organisation like Sapphire use security awareness training?

Security awareness training is not only something Sapphire delivers to organisations across the UK and beyond – we also invest heavily in educating our staff.

Yes, security awareness is aligned with our ISO27001 certification. However, training is a fundamental part of staff development.

By delivering training in all aspects of security, we empower staff to be security conscious. Like any other organisation, we have identified the skill set gaps and have rolled out training to increase their knowledge. 

Thank you to Jon for his time and insight!

Frequently Asked Questions on What is Security Awareness Training

1. What are the Main Benefits of Security Awareness Training Programs?

Security awareness training, also known as cybersecurity awareness training, has five significant benefits. They include:

a). Drive awareness

Since human error plays a significant role in cyber attacks today, well-trained employees are important for effective security awareness. Therefore, employees will become more cyber-aware due to a robust security awareness training program, which will also provide them with the skills and assurance they need to recognise security hazards when they are presented and know how to handle them.

The more employee awareness, the better they will defend your organisation and the more proactive you will be with security procedures.

b). Minimise Threats

Employees that have received security awareness training are better informed about common social engineering threats like phishing and spear phishing. In addition, this program can determine how well aware they are of assaults and how they react when they get phishing emails, leading, if necessary, to the need for additional training for specific individuals.

c). Prevent Downtime

Restoring normal business operations after data breaches or other security incidents can be expensive and time-consuming. However, there is a much lower chance that a cyber assault will occur. All crucial business systems can continue to run online and effectively if your staff is aware of cybersecurity concepts and understands their role in keeping your organisation secure.

d). Improve Customer Confidence

Businesses must adapt using tools and techniques that demonstrate their cyber resiliency to win over customers as consumers understand the cybersecurity landscape, including the various threats.

Security awareness training programs are important as they ensure employees follow the best practices to minimise security threats. In addition, prospective clients will be more inclined to work with you if they observe that you are being more aggressive with your cybersecurity measures.

e). Ensure Compliance

Businesses now have to comply with an ever-growing number of regulations. But unfortunately, regulation compliance violations are not a choice if your organisation deals with sensitive, private, or confidential information. 

By incorporating a security awareness training program, you can increase your organisation’s security and support your compliance efforts by ensuring your staff are aware of compliance guidelines and can handle sensitive data and information.

2. Is there a Difference Between Security Awareness and Security Training?

Yes. Cybersecurity awareness isn’t training; it allows individuals to recognise security issues and act accordingly. On the other hand, cybersecurity training ensures all employees have the appropriate security skills and competencies.

Training should be conducted frequently and customised to satisfy the various demands of the organisation and its personnel, given the quick change in the types of security threats.

3. How Often Should You Conduct Cybersecurity Awareness Training?

With cyber-attacks every 44 seconds, training should be conducted yearly. Cybersecurity awareness training bolsters your defences and gives your staff a sense of empowerment in the fight against cyber threats.

Cybersecurity training is not something you only do once. This is because attackers using the internet to steal data from businesses are becoming smarter, quicker, and more creative.

4. What are the Main Topics to Cover in Security Awareness Training Programs?

a). Social Engineering

Social engineering is an organisation’s most significant risk, which relies on human contact to access networks, real-world locations, and computer systems. Social engineering attacks are techniques that many hackers have mastered.

For example, spear phishing attacks like emails trick recipients into sharing sensitive information. If staff aren’t properly informed and schooled on common methods, they could become easy prey.

b). Daily Computing Protections

Employees encounter many situations during their workday; this is where the security awareness training program comes in. It includes proper data sharing techniques, strong password creation, identifying and protecting sensitive data, email, phone, IM and video conference.

Companies considering security awareness training important should present real-world examples of phishing attacks, malware and common threats most users will encounter.

c). Physical Security

Awareness of the value of physical security can help prevent unwanted entry into secure structures or zones inside a building. This will include topics like door-holding etiquette, hiding or securing sensitive documents, use of proper badge access and the methods to alert the security staff of an incident.

d). Remote Computing Protections

Employees who use the corporate LAN without following security protocols increase the likelihood of a security incident. Additional security awareness training topics that IT should address include:

  • Working in open or unprotected areas.
  • Utilising VPNs and encryption for better security.
  • Securing home networks.
  • Using remote access methods.
  • Using mobile devices to handle sensitive information.
  • Safely travelling overseas.

5. How Can You Track a Security Awareness Training Program’s Success or Limitations?

To measure how effective security awareness training works, these are some things you can consider tracking:

  • Number of click rates for phishing tests
  • Number and a security violation type found during a workplace review
  • Number of employees that gave out confidential information to the testers through email or phone
  • Number of employees reporting a phishing email
  • Number of times personal information was found in bins
  • Number of times physical impersonation testers got allowed access to restricted areas
  • The number of employees that will leak sensitive data like providing a user password

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