Optimizing Cybersecurity Awareness Training With Active Learning

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Post originally shared via Forbes Business Council

It’s no secret that as companies revisit return-to-work plans and permanently shift their workforce remote in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve also exponentially increased their vulnerability to cyberattacks. In 2020, the average cyberattack cost organizations $3.86 million.

In a rapidly digitizing world, cybercriminals are continually upping the ante on their tactics. Employees are any company’s greatest vulnerability to cybercrime, and the consequential rise in cybercrime has warranted the need for companies to properly train their employees and implement robust cybersecurity processes since technology can only be as advantageous and effective as a company’s best employees when it comes to cybercrime prevention.

In other words, any company’s investment in cybercrime prevention and awareness will be all but worthless if its employees open a malicious email or access sensitive information from an unsecure device.

Taking Corporate Cybersecurity Awareness to the Next Level

Most corporate cybersecurity awareness trainings tend to roll employees through a high-level overview of cybersecurity — identifying key terms and highlighting the most common types of hacks. While important, covering the baseline of suspicious emails and firewall updates aren’t enough to both properly train employees or make them a worthwhile investment for organizations.

One-off trainings without interactive elements won’t ever fully engage employees and, in turn, won’t also ever fully prepare them to recognize new and ongoing types of cyber threats. On top of that, employees aren’t homogenous, and cybersecurity trainings that fail to offer a variety of learning tools won’t ever enable employees to master each level of learning.

A growing body of research points to the benefits of active learning in formal cybersecurity education, and this approach could go a long way in the business world as well.

Optimizing Your Current Cyber Awareness Program

Cybersecurity awareness training that utilizes virtual machines to offer skills lab simulators enables hands-on training. As the head of a company that offers cyber security training and digital skills programs, I have seen firsthand how interactive lab environments can be an effective method for companies to adequately assess and train their employees. When choosing programs, make sure cybersecurity awareness training skills labs cover everything from malware detection and incident response to vulnerability assessments and cyber forensics.

To make the training more engaging for the employees, businesses need to get more creative in how they deliver it. One way to make the process more engaging is to focus on behavior-modifying activities that are relevant to the employee’s actual position in the organization.

This can be done through interactive exercises and activities tailored to showcase the dangers of lacking vigilance in routine. Simulations, drills and interactive exercises are other great ways to make the process more engaging.

The best cybersecurity awareness trainings should be available on-premise or in the cloud and should be customizable to every employee’s skill level. They should also offer an array of interactive short content ranging from quizzes to videos and provide ratings and insight on the organizations’ overall cybersecurity awareness. By regularly tapping top-notch solutions for training and phishing simulations, companies can easily integrate practical tools to measure and improve the security culture of the organization.

In addition to surveying employees on the effectiveness of the cybersecurity training, as good practice, companies should also routinely test their employees with effectively hard-to-spot forms of cybercrime tests to sporadically assess their workforce’s skill level.

In Conclusion

In general, many companies focus their efforts on fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness when they should instead focus their efforts on cybersecurity vigilance via active learning. Active learning gets at the root of cybersecurity vulnerabilities: human error.

Protect Your Organization from Phishing

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