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Key Traits of Security Awareness Training

Cyber security is an integral part of any business, and today, countless technological solutions can help organizations of all sizes maintain and develop robust security strategies. However, with most security breaches still attributed to simple human error, the weak link in the chain remains within the habits and behaviors of staff and other users.

Security awareness training is one approach used to combat this weak link. Businesses that prioritize human-centric security programs are often better protected than those that focus solely on technological approaches. But what defines this kind of approach, and how can businesses improve training to address human fallibility?

Analyze Existing Behaviors

Establishing an accurate and insightful baseline of existing staff behavior is a crucial part of security awareness training, allowing the identification of both strengths and weaknesses across entire structures. Therefore, businesses should begin by examining the existing security behaviors of staff, where the organization currently stands on security initiatives, and how each department identifies and deals with risks.

This particular security awareness training trait is, in fact, an ongoing process, allowing businesses to constantly refine their approach through the gathering of both qualitative and quantitative data. This can be gathered through regular behavioral tests, focus groups, risk assessment analytics, and trawling previously collected historical data.

Communicate Security Initiatives

Flexible and dynamic security initiatives are an integral part of security awareness training, building on baseline data and addressing the most pressing concerns of those dealing with security risks on the frontline—in other words, an organization’s staff. First and foremost, however, staff should never fear reprisals from management for raising a security concern, something that is surprisingly common in many organizations.

Training should begin with higher-risk groups, with communication tailored to the audience in question. This means using different languages and developing comprehensible security initiatives for a sales team at the lower end and an IT team at the higher end. Additionally, all staff should be engaged with any company’s initiatives, and easily digested content should always be prioritized.

Shape Positive Behavior

The ever-changing nature of security threats means that security initiatives will only ever be as strong as the habits and behavior that underpins them. Often, threats are reported long after errors have been made, and shaping positive behavior that prioritizes awareness and engagement will allow a more robust approach to reporting actual and potential threats.

This means developing systems and processes that make reporting and identifying issues fast, simple, and effective and encourage those actions in the future. This may be as simple as implementing “report” buttons on suspicious emails rather than forcing the employee to search for the right staff member to report it to. It could also take the form of regular department meetings where staff discuss firsthand experiences of the past month’s threats.

By encouraging these types of positive behavior, employees will build up a deeper understanding of potential threats, which will then feed back into other areas of the company, allowing any organization to develop better security initiatives from the improved data generated by security awareness training.