What is Security Awareness Training?

Security Awareness Training Definition

Security awareness training is the ongoing process of educating business leaders, employees, vendors and other partners about the risks related to technology and digital connectivity. Once the risks are understood, security awareness training teaches individuals how to protect an organization’s networks, devices, data and other assets from cyber-based threats. 

Nowadays, security awareness training is non-negotiable for organizations of all types. The evidence is in the rapid proliferation of cyber attacks and the high cost of a data breach. The 2022 Global Risks Report released by the World Economic Forum revealed that 95% of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error. And the average cost of a single cyber security incident due to human error is a whopping $3.33 million. 

Cybersecurity is Everyone’s Job

Despite the mounting data pointing to the human factor in cyberattacks, many executives and business leaders still see cybersecurity as a job for IT. While IT plays a crucial role in the makeup of an organization’s security infrastructure, IT cannot do it alone.

Employees are faced with potential cybersecurity threats on a daily basis. These threats come from phishing email attempts, social engineering, SMiShing and vishing – to name a few. Add in a myriad of potential physical security risks for those in the office or in a hybrid work environment. You now have a perfect storm: cyber threats, physical security compromise and unaware employees. 

The fact is that every employee within the organization – including executives – is already involved in an organization’s cybersecurity, whether they know it or not. Wouldn’t it be more advantageous if executives and employees were aware of their roles and prepared to handle potential threats?

What Does it Mean to Be ‘Security Aware’?

Employees who are security aware are those who understand there is the possibility of people deliberately or accidentally stealing, damaging or misusing data contained in a company’s computer system and throughout the organization. The intent of security awareness is to empower employees to be the first line of defense to stop such theft from happening. Employees who understand the risks and have the knowledge to employ best practices to safeguard the company’s data – and their own – have security awareness.

Executives Leading by Example

One of the most important best practices a company can employ is buy-in from the executive team on the importance of security awareness. Executives are high-profile targets for cybercriminals, and they often fall victim. However, it isn’t enough to simply mandate security awareness training for executives. Leaders should pave the way for a successful security awareness training program by helping foster adoption within the organization. Camaraderie goes a long way in any organization. That each employee plays an essential part in the security of the company is a crucial message that leaders must champion. 

Employee's Role in Cybersecurity

Every organization must ensure its employees understand the risks in collecting, storing and transferring information and have the know-how to protect against cyber attacks. Employees need to recognize that data is a valuable asset of the organization. Corporate data is private information, not to be shared freely. Personnel must also be provided with clear instructions about what to do if a security breach is discovered.

Developing this breadth of knowledge and safe practices requires frequent, ongoing security awareness training. Training results in a security-minded culture and lasting behavior change within the organization. 

So, What is Security Awareness Training?

Security awareness training comprises a broad range of topics. Being able to make better decisions about the use of technology, connectivity and data protection means employees also have to:

  • Be aware of the key vocabulary surrounding cybersecurity
  • Appreciate the outcomes of recent security incidents and threats
  • Understand individual responsibilities for protecting company data
  • Know the security threats posed by social media
  • Implement safe email security practices
  • Appreciate general protocols for improved safety on the Internet
  • Be able to detect the presence of malware
  • Maintain up-to-date virus protection
  • Use a best practice approach for passwords and access controls
  • Be able to use appropriate methods of data storage and retention
  • Be aware of typical phishing scams and how to recognize them
  • Understand requirements for safe use of mobile devices
  • Understand distinct approaches to identity theft and safeguards to prevent its occurrence
  • Know how to maintain the physical security of equipment
  • Follow the dictates of the Federal Information Security Management Act, if it is a company requirement

Security awareness training means educating employees on all of these crucial topics. 

Implementing Effective Security Awareness Training

Security awareness training is not just a one-time training requirement. Continuous learning is the most effective way to truly engrain cybersecurity concepts – and safe practices – into any organization. 

Global Learning Systems has more than 30 years of experience supporting executives, HR and IT in mitigating risk through compliance training and security training. We offer a range of training packages as well as customized security awareness programs. Our approach includes cutting-edge learning modalities such as gamified learning, microlearning and live-action videos. And of course, we offer traditional full-length online traditional courseware with engaging training content. 

With GLS training, your organization’s policies and procedures can be incorporated. In addition, ongoing learning and remediation training, role-based training and other materials are available. Schedule a demo and talk to a live representative at GLS to ramp up your training.

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