Security Awareness Training Methodology: Unlocking the Potential of GLS’s Human Firewall

security awareness training methodology for Human Firewall blog

The Global Learning Systems Human Firewall 2.0® security awareness training methodology is backed by GLS’ 30+ years of impactful online learning design. In this Q&A, Amy Holloway, GLS Product Director, discusses the learning methodology and strategies for use of the GLS content library to promote cyber-secure behavior.

Q: First thing’s first … What is the Human Firewall 2.0? Was there a 1.0?

Holloway: GLS has been in the Security Awareness business for over 15 years, with a mission to Strengthen Your Human Firewall. The original Human Firewall library started with a few courses and grew organically as the threat landscape broadened and organizations began to realize the critical role of the human element in cybersecurity.  

In 2019, we undertook an in-depth analysis and update of our course catalog to ensure that our security awareness training methodology was addressing all aspects of end-user cybersecurity. At the same time we looked at our instructional strategies to make sure they were effective and engaging – using the latest in online learning, to promote true behavior change. Our team wanted the name of the resulting product line to reflect that innovative thinking about security awareness. From there the Human Firewall 2.0 was born!

Q: Security awareness training often has a bad reputation for users clicking through just to check the completion box. How do GLS products engage users in deeper learning?

Holloway: The key to engagement is making training relevant and relatable to the learner. When it comes to encouraging cybersecurity hygiene, you need to ensure learners immediately recognize the value both personally and professionally; to distill good practices down to simple, easy-to-accomplish steps; and to promote the application of those steps in the course of daily activities. 

We find that there is no technique more effective at accomplishing those goals than a good story. For one thing, stories stick. Research shows that learning that stems from a well-told story is remembered longer and more accurately than learning based on facts and figures. Stories also form the basis for realistic practice – a “safe zone” where you can try out new knowledge and skills, with guidance and the opportunity to learn from mistakes. 

Throughout GLS products, you’ll find media-rich storytelling and scenario-based activities that take into consideration common situations for everyone, but also speak directly to specific job roles. Our line of training designed specifically for executives, finance and IT professionals further enhances the relevance needed for learning to occur.

Q: When we talk about changing human behavior, it takes more than a single course. How does the overall GLS Human Firewall 2.0 security awareness training methodology support transformation in cybersecurity behavior?

Holloway: At its essence, the formula for behavior change is a combination of motivation, ability and prompts. 

The Human Firewall 2.0 products are designed to motivate by highlighting the connections between cyber hygiene and intrinsic motivators like personal safety and control over our environment. To further heighten motivation, our customer toolkit includes guidance on holding challenges and competitions, as well as providing recognition to high performers and remediation for underperformance. 

When it comes to developing the ability to be cyber-secure. Our product library is designed as a complete curriculum. We recommend starting new learners with our foundational courses on security awarenessanti-phishing and data privacy principles. They can then build on that foundational knowledge with our aptly named “building blocks,” which delve more deeply into specific cybersecurity skills such as avoiding spear-phishing or securing your mobile devices. Each block is actually a set of products including interactive microlearning, videos and learning games  – all designed to target the same learning objectives through a variety of styles and formats. 

The final piece of the behavior change puzzle is the prompts. These are the reminders needed on a regular basis (at first frequently, then gradually reducing in frequency) to internalize the behavior. In our library, these come in the form of social media videos, digital posters, email templates, tips and tweets. 

GLS clients receive support to develop an annual schedule with the right set of tools for their audience and the right timing to gradually instill motivation, build cybersecurity knowledge and skill and remind users to apply it to their daily lives.

Q: What does the road ahead look like for GLS products?

Holloway: With the threat landscape constantly evolving and the awareness that learning is also an ongoing process, our mission is to keep our products current and effective. We are committed to ongoing monitoring and updates to our product line to ensure it continues to live up to that Human Firewall 2.0 name. That means not only keeping content fresh, but continuing to apply the latest learning strategies to the challenge of instilling a cybersecurity mindset in all of our users.

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