Cybersecurity Awareness Training for Employees

Cybersecurity Awareness Training for Employees: All You Need to Know

April 22, 2021

The adoption of cybersecurity technologies is on the rise, and it's been estimated that one in five business leaders increased spending on their software budget up to 50%. Due to this, there has been a sharp rise in phishing attacks. It has also been found that there is a ransomware invasion every 14 seconds. To make matters worse, according to cybercrime historical figures, it is estimated that the cost to businesses could amount to $20 billion if global damages from these attacks aren’t addressed. A lack of cybersecurity awareness training continues to be a key challenge faced by organizations.

This blog will take you through how you can incorporate cybersecurity training programs and tackle the lack of cybersecurity awareness in your organization.

Understand Risk Awareness

In-house cybersecurity department teams need to study the organization’s employees and see who is most at risk. Risk factors can vary based on job roles, level of access to confidential data in the organization, employee profiles, and job roles, workplace culture, etc.

Sometimes vulnerabilities in security systems get exposed in the most unlikely of places. Users should be made aware of what they are dealing with and the consequences that result from their actions (along with a lack of it).

Don’t Fall Victim to Social Engineering

Hackers excel at taking advantage of human emotions and natural intrinsic behaviors. Cybercriminals are known to be good at running guesses for passwords and hacking into user accounts. Social engineering practices also include sending employees surveys and luring them into accidentally giving out personal information. Employees should be taught how to interact with users online and establish common guidelines when it comes to sharing private data over networks.

Cybersecurity awareness training programs should make it mandatory to enable multi-factor authentication on user accounts and guide employees on creating tough-to-guess usernames and passwords. Users should understand what makes their accounts easy to hack into and implement cutting-edge cybersecurity password tips to protect them. Employees should know how to use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and be educated on the importance of avoiding data transmission on public networks.

Enforce Repetition in Learning

A single workshop or training session isn’t enough to make users understand what and what not to do at work to stay secure. Sometimes bringing light to issues in line with network security must be done in ways that even non-specialists can comprehend. Educational instructional guides, network security breach simulation games, phishing mockups, and hands-on training programs must be implemented.

When employees learn about their role in network security, they’re more likely to become better decision-makers. Hackers target unsuspecting victims who aren’t aware, but companies can take this out of the equation by designing effective learning programs. This means various social engineering attack examples have to be simulated through these programs for these concepts to sink in.

Use Employee Reward Programs

Another way to raise awareness about cybersecurity challenges within the organization is to reward employees for finding technical glitches and bugs. Showing recognition and motivating the right behavior through rewards is key to enforcing strong network security policies effectively.

A good example of this is rewarding an employee with a gift voucher for spotting real attacks and bugs in networks.

Add Consequences for Ignoring the Rules

Besides giving employees rewards, adding certain stakes to cybersecurity awareness training programs can make employees stay focused and not ignore them. Cybersecurity awareness training for employees should be treated as actual or vital skills and not be disregarded as “soft skills” or something that is optional.

By adding a level of priority or urgency in understanding these lessons, companies can encourage employees to take problems seriously and address their lack of importance or understanding thereof. Those who lack computer or technology skills will have to undertake remedial lessons within the company before they’re allowed to proceed with work. This will make them take their lack of knowledge seriously and help them understand what they’re working with.

Reporting and Reviews

Once awareness has been established within the organization, threats and incidents should be documented. Everybody should put in the effort to stay up to date with the latest security trends and make sure their profiles are not at risk of being breached.

Awareness of network security has to be made at all levels of the organization, not just employees. This will help fill up any security gaps and aid in documenting reports. Creating cybersecurity reports and reviews about existing systems is a continuous process since upgrades will be made with every iteration. New threats are constantly emerging, and professionals have to stay on their toes, keeping everybody informed and within the loop.

Reports can shed light on past incidents and analyze security flaws. All staff members can host a meeting to discuss key points outlined in reports, give feedback, and get insights. Improving cybersecurity awareness becomes a natural consequence of these reviews and committee meetings within organizations.

Recognize Social Engineering Schemes

Human error is the most common element involved in the biggest cybersecurity attacks. Even the most sophisticated technologies and frameworks won’t do good if users slip up and leak out data accidentally. Phishing, Man-in-the-Middle, and various social engineering schemes exploit user naivete.

It’s easy for fake emails to look like the real deal and resemble official emails. Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between what’s real and fake because of how skilled hackers are at creating content for baiting victims. Security programs will have to raise awareness about such strategies and teach employees to deal with various social engineering attacks. From spotting fake phone calls, suspicious messages at work, and preventing unknown employees from entering the premises, companies will have to work harder at detecting fraud and making their employees smarter.

Establish Trust and Transparent Communication

This is an element of cybersecurity awareness training that is often overlooked. Those who are sharing data at work should understand the importance of confidentiality of data. Training programs should make employees not fear reporting problems they notice in systems and encourage them not to keep it to themselves. Incentivizing and giving rewards is a way to counter this. The workplace culture should remain safe and positive for them to open up.

If everybody is on the same page, it’s a lot easier to reach greater understanding and awareness about cybersecurity challenges within the organization.

Challenges Faced by Cybersecurity Teams

In an age where robots and AI are taking over, companies are increasingly prone to data breaches and attacks. While Machine Learning (ML) algorithms are automating various aspects of work and network security, hackers are getting smarter and more sophisticated with their attacks. Many companies do not find cybersecurity awareness training important, and this is where they’re wrong.

The lack of understanding and sheer ignorance is the very first things that cybercriminals take advantage of. And although the breach may not be wide-scale or large enough yet, attackers can conduct detailed studies about victims and launch threats that can have a vast effect on the organization.

Another challenge faced by cybersecurity analysts is a lack of consistency in implementing these training programs. Company employees can easily forget the steps and procedures needed to protect themselves and aren’t tech-savvy enough to implement network security practices on their first try. Hackers are always inventing new ways of stealing data and can even impersonate in-house employees.

A classic case of this is tailgating, where an intruder can tail an employee and enter right behind them inside the facility without them being aware of it. Training needs to be constant, and employees should be educated to stay vigilant and not oblivious to their surroundings. This applies to staying protected at the workplace and making sure they protect their data even after leaving the office. Testing of security systems must be rigorous and done for both the operating system and application security levels. Employees should also be tested on their understanding of various cybersecurity measures that have been put in place. You do not want them to forget the training the minute they leave the door, so make sure they are paying attention.


Cybersecurity awareness training should start from the organization's very roots and not be implemented at the last minute. Before employees and recruits transition into their job roles, they must undergo network security training, ensure they understand how to use technology, and stay protected online. It’s no longer enough to be aware of threats but actively perceive and watch out for them. We can use as many antivirus software or anti-malware programs as we want, but if an attacker is skilled at making an employee give out sensitive information, all those measures won’t help.

It’s important to educate and make users intelligent to be able to make the most out of network security systems and solutions. If your business largely operates online and does digital transactions, it’s even more imperative to spread awareness and understand cybersecurity challenges and trends in the organization. There will be no room for employees or personnel who refuse to catch up, and cyber awareness training program attendances must be made mandatory to stay safe and secure online.

EC-Council offers one such security awareness training program through their Aware application, which provides information and training to the entire workforce to defend themselves and the entire organization from cyberattacks. The application provides various templates for phishing simulations to train your staff in identifying such phishing emails and report them. Aware has training videos, games, and challenges to make your cybersecurity awareness training more exciting.

Visit Aware for more information!