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Security Awareness Training Methods

What are Security Awareness Training Methods?

Training employees to understand and limit security risks is a critical element of an organization’s strategies to protect themselves from cyberthreats. Some of the reasons that security awareness training is important for organizations include:

  • Data breach prevention
  • Phishing attack prevention
  • Creating a culture of security
  • Bolstering cyberdefenses against cyberattacks
  • Meeting compliance requirements
  • Reassuring customers and stakeholders

While training has traditionally consisted of annual slideshow-assisted lectures, many organizations are now looking for alternative training methods that meet the needs of different types of learners. The four primary types of security awareness training include:

Classroom training. With lecture-based classroom training, an educator leads an instructional session with multiple learners. The advantages of classroom training are that the training can be personalized, the lessons can include hands-on activities, and participants can work collaboratively. The disadvantages of classroom training are that it can be costly (particularly for larger organizations with many learners), it can be time-consuming, and the scalability of classroom training is limited.

Web-based training. Web-based training consists of online courses, often containing modules that people can access via a platform. Advantages of web-based training include convenience, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. Disadvantages of web-based training include limited engagement, which can make learning more difficult for some learners, and limited personalization.

Simulation training. Practical, or simulation-based, training involves sending out simulated phishing messages to your employees, usually through email, to test their responses. Carefully crafted simulations increase the likelihood that employees are going to perform the requested actions in phishing simulation emails, thereby failing the simulation test. Once employees have been alerted that what they clicked on was a phishing simulation, they learn how easy it was for them to fall for a real phishing attempt. Advantages of simulation training include its realistic approach, the ability to target specific audiences for training, and its data-driven design, which helps administrators target areas for improvement and adjust individual or group training programs. The disadvantages of simulation training include their being time-consuming, potentially stressful, they are limited in scope because they are mostly focuses on simulated phishing attacks, and they are potentially counterproductive, as employees can feel they are being tricked, which erodes trust.

Video training. Video training can be conducted in many ways, such as being shown in live meetings, in different sizes of groups, or part of web-based training programs where employees can watch the videos online, asynchronously. Advantages of video training include convenience, memorability, and the ability to rewatch and review. The disadvantages of video training include limited engagement and limited personalization.