Dare to Have Fun! Alleviate the Pain Points of Cyber Security Awareness Training

You know it and we know it: Security awareness training doesn’t have the best reputation Many employees who are required to undergo security awareness training do so under the direction of human resources or a risk and compliance department within their company. Trainings have long been conducted via static PowerPoint presentations, lecture-based talks, online “tutorials”, and through other passive methods that don’t result in the employee retaining much of anything. It merely becomes a box employees check off on their requirements sheet and they move on.

This is not the way cyber security awareness training should be implemented. We know that current trainings like this are ineffective in helping employees learn cyber best practices or, more importantly, change their online behavior for the better. The “learning pyramid”, sometimes referred to as the “cone of learning”, developed by the National Training Laboratory, suggests that most learners only remember about 10% of what they read from textbooks. Whereas, retention is improved when gamification is incorporated into training and learning activities. In fact, according to Talent LMS, 89% of employees believe they’d be more productive if their work was more gamified.

Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash


Don’t believe us? Take a peek at the recent news headlines and industry reports that show human error is still a primary contributor and cause significant company breaches. Employees aren’t empowered with the knowledge to know what to look for in suspicious emails or phone calls, resulting in higher cyber risk for organizations.

And that’s only a few of many incidents that indicate the need to foster more effective security awareness training to truly change digital behavior.

Pain Points of Traditional Security Awareness Training

  1. Actually changing —Getting an employee to go through security awareness training is one thing but actually changing their behavior is another challenge all its own. Training can’t be a ‘one and done’ effort. It must be engaging enough for people to retain learned information so they can recall it when faced with a cyber threat. To do this, security awareness training must have a ‘what’s in it for me?’ component otherwise, there’s no incentive for an employee to do the training at all. Teaching elements like scoring, competition, badges, levels, and ‘digital rewards’ help engage employees so they take training off the ‘must do list’ and onto the ‘want to do list.’
  2. Convincing employees it directly impacts them—If you’ve never been in a car accident, you may be inclined to drive a little faster on the highway, not thinking twice about the repercussions because “an accident will never happen to you.” Wrong. Just because your company may not have been breached (yet) doesn’t mean you’re immune to security awareness training. Unfortunately, the daily onslaught of company breaches making news headlines indicate that the ‘we don’t need security awareness training’ thinking is not only outdated but will leave your organization more vulnerable to an attack. Everyone needs security awareness training if they do any kind of work on an electronic device (whether computer, phone, internet-connected system, etc.)
  3. Perceived protection from technology—It’s quite common to presume that today’s technology has ‘built-in’ security to protect against hackers, and while some devices do offer limited protection, it’s not enough. With as fast as technology is advancing, there’s always a gap in security waiting to be exploited. Spam filters, antivirus software, and firewalls are great, but hackers know the easiest way to get sensitive data and cause disruption is by going through people first. A multi-layered security strategy that places people at the forefront of defense is critical to hardening posture from all angles.

Empower Employees with Fun Security Awareness Learning

Just because the industry has typically conducted security awareness training in a passive manner in the past, doesn’t mean it works—and it certainly doesn’t mean that we have to keep doing it. So let’s flip the script on security awareness training shall we?

We recently debuted inCyt, a security awareness learning tool, at RSA this year. It is an evolving solution designed for non-technical employees to learn cyber foundations and improve online workplace practices. In it, we dare to have fun with security awareness training by simplifying and gamifying the complexity of cyber. We expand the understanding of the threat landscape to non-technical employees who work on business systems by introducing basic concepts through the mind of a hacker. THEN the player is encouraged to demonstrate their learned knowledge in a “final” lesson where the player defends their digital assets from a bot hacker. Games are designed around the cyber attack sequence that outlines the structure of an online threat.

inCyt on a laptop computer

Players with limited cyber knowledge learn basic concepts through cyber themed battles against a bot attacker and the learning becomes ‘sticky’ as information is retained because it’s engaging. Colorful characters, friendly competition, and relevant cyber examples improve security awareness aptitude.

inCyt currently teaches the following security foundations with more on the way!

Phishing & Email Security

  • Understand what phishing is.
  • Understand the impacts of phishing.
  • Identify common indicators of phishing attempts.
  • Identify appropriate countermeasures related to phishing.

Online Safety

  • Understand the risks associated with public internet.
  • Identify proper safety precautions when online shopping.
  • Understand the impact of what and when you post online.

Password Security

  • Understand the importance of strong passwords.
  • Identify best practices when creating passwords.
  • Understand multi-factor authentication.

Future game topics and themes will include: Social Media, Least Privilege, Remote Work / Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Computer & Software Updates, Response to Potential Attack, Data Value, Preservation & Recovery.

So what do you think? Is it time to change up your security awareness training approach? Perhaps try something new to augment the most vulnerable attack element in your organization: your people.

Schedule a demo of inCyt today to learn more.


Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Human Resources Takes on Cyber Readiness: How to Mitigate Cyber Risks with Security Awareness Training

Every year hackers come out of the woodwork to target various companies, specifically around the holiday season. In fact, cyber attacks are estimated to increase by as much as 50 – 60% over the holidays. With staff often spread thin and consumers taking advantage of online shopping and banking for added convenience, the timing is perfect for HR professionals to stay vigilant with how they onboard new employees with cyber education while encouraging good cyber hygiene among existing colleagues. Understanding the risks employees come across while online, how to train them to detect and mitigate these risks, and how you as an HR manager can ensure continued efforts to harden security posture will make you a cyber safety hero this holiday season!

While IT and cyber professionals are primarily responsible for securing a company’s networks and ensuring teams are up to snuff, the reality is that cyber risk extends beyond what occurs in the server room. Human error continues to be one of the top reasons cyber attacks are successful. This means that not only do security teams need to be trained, but cyber training across every department, with every employee who works on a computer, is essential to obtain and maintain good cyber hygiene across the company. If every employee in your organization understands how their actions can impact overall company security, more personal responsibility will be taken to maintain cyber safety.

Don’t fret! HR professionals need not be masters in cyber security. There are great tools out there to help anyone learn the basics and be able to share their foundational learning with others. So, what are some of the things you can learn and train employees on to mitigate attacks?

  • Phishing emails – With inboxes flooded daily, it can be hard to spot potential threats in emails. Hackers send targeted emails that may address a work-related matter from a co-worker or manager. One click on the wrong email, and you could be infecting your business device with malware. It is important every employee understand what suspicious emails “look” like and how to avoid nefarious click bait.
  • Using company devices for personal work – It’s an easy thing to do – grab a work device off the counter and start online shopping, emailing friends and family, or finally getting around to baking that chocolate chip cookie recipe from Martha Stewart. However, accessing un-secured sites and opening personal, and potentially phishing, emails on a work computer puts companies at risk. As an HR manager, you must recognize this common occurrence and be able to speak to it with your staff. If a hacker is able to gain access to a business computer through an employee’s personal use, they gain access to all of the company information on that employee’s device as well.
  • Using personal devices to conduct business – The same can be said for using personal devices to conduct business. It can be difficult to “turn off” after work hours and many employees answer some work emails on their cell phone, or load a work document on his/her personal tablet or laptop. When company staff access potentially sensitive business documents on their personal device, they risk leaking that information to a hacker. To prevent attacks company-wide, HR pros must be aware of how often this type of behavior occurs and work closely with their IT department to learn how company networks are secured when remote access is granted to employees outside of home and work IP addresses.

HR managers: Spread good cyber hygiene!

Security awareness training is becoming increasingly prevalent at companies that know what it takes to have good cyber hygiene. According to a recent report by Infosec, about 53% of U.S companies have some form of security awareness training in place. While this is still barely over half, it’s a start. So what can you do to rank among companies leading the charge in cyber security?

  • Offer continuous training – Cyber security awareness training is not a “one and done” event. This kind of training should continue throughout the year, at all levels of an organization, and be specific to different job roles within the company. Technology is always changing, which means the threatscape is too. When you are battling a constantly shifting enemy, your employees need to be vigilantly trained to understand each shift.
  • Perform “live fire” training exercisesLive fire exercises (LFX) happen when users undergo a simulated cyber attack specific to their job or industry. One example is having your IT department send out a phishing email. See how many people click on it and show them how easily they could have been hacked. This data can be used to show progress, tailor problem areas, and train to specific threats as needed.
  • Stress the importance of security at work and at home – Showing employees the benefit of cyber awareness in the workplace translates to awareness at home as well. Help prospective and existing employees gain a wide breadth of understanding about cyber best practices by making learning approachable instead of unattainable or intimidating.
  • Reward good cyber hygiene – Reward employees who find malicious emails or other threats with your company’s IT team and share success stories of how employees helped thwart security issues with vigilant “eyes” on suspicious activity. Equally, it is important to also empathize with employees who make mistakes and give them the tools to learn from their mistakes. Many employees receive hundreds of emails each day, and while training tips and education are helpful tools, it is not a perfect solution.

Training employees to be cyber aware can be difficult unless a structured program and management strategy is in place. We’re here to help! Circadence’s security awareness platform, inCyt, is coming soon! inCyt allows employees to compete in cyber-themed battles and empowers them to understand professional and personal cyber responsibility. By cultivating safe cyber practices in virtual environments, HR managers can increase security awareness and reduce risks to the business.

To learn more and stay in the know for upcoming product launches, visit www.circadence.com

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash