Getting Started with Security Awareness Training

Getting Started with Security Awareness Training

The threat of cyber attacks looms over the heads of every company out there, whether they are a big corporation or a small business. Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Report revealed that "43% of all data breaches involve small and medium-sized businesses." Unfortunately, a number of data breaches occur each year to businesses of all sizes.

The primary cause of most cyber attacks is human error. Enhancing your defenses through ongoing security awareness training is one of the best ways to mitigate security risks. Then, you will be able to prevent attacks by mitigating human error.

Here are some steps to implement a robust security awareness training program.

Assets and objectives

Getting familiar with your current security preparedness is a great place to start. You can establish this baseline through a variety of approaches, such as:

  • Surveying your employees for a sense of security awareness knowledge
  • Engaging in social engineering and other security drills
  • Encouraging awareness of the most common and pressing threats, such as phishing attacks


Our recommended method for baseline security awareness testing is to conduct a simulated phishing campaign. The campaign sends multiple phishing-like emails to everyone in the company over a period of time, such as a month. Collect data during this exercise, and report on which users have opened emails and clicked on the links. This simple test shows which users are likely to have poor internet behaviour and click on malicious links. 


With your current cyber security standing as a foundation, you can create a training program that addresses any major issues or concerns. 

Develop training content

The essential topics that should be covered are: 

  • How to detect and avoid phishing
  • How to detect and block ransomware
  • Password Management
  • Avoiding malicious and compromised websites
  • Removable media.
  • Understanding social engineering.
  • Physical security.
  • Mobile device security.

Consider leveraging free resources to build security awareness training for your business. Some free resources that are readily available are: 

  • Vendors or government sites.
  • Mastercard which provides cyber security for small businesses in Canada.
  • You can also use real world examples that have been used in case studies.

Deploy the training

It is important to set the tone and the culture of the workplace before proceeding with anything else. By promoting a supportive, security-minded company culture, it encourages employees to keep themselves and your business safe from cyber attacks. A supportive, security-minded culture is one where the employees take pride in their contribution to protecting the organization from ransomware and other dangerous attacks.


Consider choosing a training cadence that will give your employees useful information in a way that can be digested easily for optimal long-term retention. Many platforms exist that enroll staff in an online video-based security awareness training program. They are given along with tests at the end of the program to show you which employees have mastered cybersecurity. 

Maintaining your cybersecurity program

Start by developing a security employee awareness policy. Keep the policy up-to-date and plan to refresh your training program accordingly. This allows you to measure the effectiveness of your current program against your previous ones. Make sure to include thorough training for new hires as well as ongoing training for current employees.


When training new hires, make sure security awareness is first and foremost. This includes a streamlined version of the most pressing topics and common threats that your employees may encounter. We recommend offering not only training but resources for them to refer back to. New employees receive so much information that they may forget some of their training, which makes ongoing training and complete documentation so important.


Developing an ongoing training cadence for existing employees is a great way to ensure your team is prepared to meet any new threats. Monthly security training is one way to accomplish this. To make the most of your monthly meetings, do a deep dive on one topic at a time to encourage better overall retention and have resources and examples ready for your employees to take home.


In addition to monthly training or in lieu of it, periodic newsletters that train employees on risks and offer scenario-based exercises and quizzes are a great option to ensure that your employees are engaged in security awareness training over time. Additionally, gamifying simulated attacks to make them fun and engaging is another great option for security training. It encourages interest in the prevention of ransomware attacks, along with attacks from other malicious viruses, by breaking them up into different teams to better equip them with cybersecurity skills.


It is important to continue ongoing security awareness training as new threats and viruses emerge everyday which could pose a serious threat to your business.

Key takeaways to keep in mind:

Reducing the chance for human error puts your business in a much more defendable position against possible oncoming cyber attacks. Maintain an effective security awareness program that affords your employees and you the tools, resources, and opportunities needed to avoid the very mistakes that otherwise leave your company vulnerable to security threats.


While it is possible to effectively train your employees in-house, it can also end up feeling quite daunting to stand up and deploy ongoing training, especially when the reality of lean staffing and resources that many small businesses are accustomed to looms over your head. Your IT Provider  can be a solution by providing the right mix of tools and resources to this end, and the right IT Firm  will find an option that meets your needs and budget.


IT Force’s IT Insights can be a great compliment to your security awareness training. From Security Awareness Training and Phishing Simulations to Dark Web Monitoring and Security Training Policy, IT Insights will educate you and your employees to stay safe, secure and productive while protecting your online identity. 


Set up a consultation with IT Force to assess services to further realize the most effective and robust security awareness training possible in the price range you want. 


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