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14 Common Misconceptions About Security Awareness Training

Larkin Anders

The Allianz Risk Barometer suggests that cyber incidents are the number one risk for businesses in 2022. Barely a day goes by when you don’t hear about some ransomware or phishing attack or, worse still, a significant data breach. Whatsmore, the rise of remote work has created extra vulnerabilities. 

Security awareness training is one of the best ways to fight these threats. But, some organizations and employees haven’t embraced these solutions. This situation is due, in part, to a lack of understanding about cybersecurity education in the workplace. 

 

 Let’s take a look at the 14 most common misconceptions about security awareness training so we can put the record straight.

#1. It’s Boring

Perhaps the biggest misconception about security awareness training is that it’s boring. Many organizations think learning about cybersecurity means being bombarded with facts, figures, charts, and endless statistics. Or worse still, it will involve a day in a poorly air-conditioned office with a droning instructor.

Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Cybersecurity companies have been grappling with this issue for years. They understand that the average employee’s appetite for security awareness training can be low. As a result, the industry has found ways to deliver punchy, engaging training via video, interaction, and fun.

The best security awareness training creates a positive and personalized way for employees to learn. 

#2. It’s Time-Consuming

Again, many people’s perception of security awareness training is somewhat outdated. For example, some employers worry that getting employees up to speed on cybersecurity will require a productivity-draining day off.

But, like a lot of enterprise training, security awareness training mostly happens remotely these days. Instead of taking a day once a year — where employees absorb only a percentage of the information — modern training techniques break things down into structured, bite-sized modules that employees can absorb over time.

This approach means that employees can be up to date on the best practices and behaviors to keep your business safe with just a little time each month.

Additionally, dynamic security awareness training programs can identify which employees lag behind and target them for further engagement. This means that up-to-speed employees won’t need to spend unnecessary time on training.

​​#3. It’s Expensive

Some businesses believe that security awareness training is just another expense they can’t afford. However, in reality, it’s an expense that they can’t afford to do without. Even top-tier packages cost less than the price of a cup of coffee per month for each user. 

Also, any money spent on security awareness training needs to be put in context. Security breaches of any kind can cost a company significantly. Cyber attacks cost businesses between $25K to several million. Additionally, when you factor in the loss of trust and reputation, it can take years for the company to bounce back.

The return on investment on security awareness training is considerable. IT downtimes, fines, and loss of business and reputation will cost far more.

#4. It’s Optional

Some people believe that security awareness training is entirely optional for every business. But, that misconception is dead wrong. Many industries, regulators, and compliance programs require security awareness training. There are strict rules that govern companies that hold customer data.

Some of the industries that mandate security awareness training to meet compliance are:

  • Banking and Finance
  • Accounting
  • Law 
  • Insurance
  • Health Care
  • Education
  • Government and Private Sector Contractors

Failure to ensure employees have received adequate training can lead to fines or a loss of license.

#5. Employees Won’t Remember the Training When it Matters

Some employers think security awareness training is pointless because their employees won’t remember what they’ve learned when it matters. Unfortunately, this observation runs counter to what most people in the cybersecurity industry know.

Training helps your employees see and identify risks, and helps them understand what behaviors lead to vulnerabilities. Additionally, it forces them to examine and understand their behaviors in the context of threats. 

Frequent training (i.e., monthly) helps employees keep what they’ve learned fresh in their minds. 

#6. Training is Ineffective

Many voices in the community argue that if companies do some form of security awareness training but still suffer from occasional attacks, that training must therefore be ineffective.

However, this only applies to poorly thought-out training.

Well-planned security awareness training, with defined goals and milestones, is effective. Whatsmore, when education is interesting and fun, employees are more engaged and soak up more information.

Security awareness training is a long-term process. It’s about changing behavior through regular interactions and learning. When done right, it’s very effective.

#7. Employees Already Understand Cybersecurity

Some bosses believe that their employees already understand cybersecurity risks and have adequate security awareness knowledge. Therefore, believing training is unnecessary. But, again, this kind of thinking demonstrates a severe misunderstanding of the nature of cybersecurity threats.

While some team and staff members may be familiar with threats, they constantly evolve and increase in sophistication. Dynamic training programs that intervene when an employee, for example, fails a phishing test, are an excellent way to ensure they’re staying on top of things.

#8. A Handbook or a Few Emails are Enough For Employees To Understand Cybersecurity

Some enterprises’ approach to training is to conduct an info dump on their employees and hope for the best. Sometimes, this is born out of naivety about how people learn and engage. In others, it’s about covering their own backs. 

For example, if a cybersecurity attack happens, they can say that staff was emailed a document they were told to read. Unfortunately, many of us have worked in offices where such practices were standard.

It isn’t realistic to dump information on employees and expect them to absorb it all. People learn in different ways and at different speeds. So they need to be able to ask questions and run through scenarios.

#9. Security Awareness Training Needs To Happen In the Office

Some people believe that security awareness training needs to happen in the office. But, of course, that’s not true. As the pandemic showed, we can all get a lot done remotely, including training.

Employees can access security awareness training from anywhere, thanks to videos and training programs. This process eliminates scheduling issues or getting everyone together and means employers can deliver training frequently at a fraction of the costs.

Additionally, because of the nature of evolving cybersecurity threats, accessing regularly updated videos and training means that employees can stay up-to-date.

#.10 Technology, Not People, Is Your Only Defense

Some employees believe that ramping up security is the best way to stop cybercrime. However, while installing monitoring systems, firewalls, and virus checkers, is a big part of reducing vulnerability, it’s only part of the solution.

Humans are your biggest defense when it comes to any business’s fight against cybercrime. To give yourself a chance, you must ensure your employees are aware of threats and which behaviors and practices put the company at risk.

It’s not an either-or situation. Technology and training need to be combined to mitigate risk.

#11. One Annual Training Program Will Keep You Safe

Cybercrime is constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated. While annual training is better than none, it’s still not enough for several reasons.

The first, as we mentioned, is that things are continually changing. New threats and strategies emerge weekly. 

Secondly, most people retain the information they learn but slowly begin to forget it after 4 to 6 months.

Frequently refreshing what you learn helps keep best practices at the top of your mind. Additionally, monthly security awareness training means new hires can speed up on practices.

#12. The Best Way to Teach Employees Is Through Fear

Fear is a powerful motivator. As a result, it’s frequently used as a way to change behavior. Cybersecurity deals with threats and risks, so it’s relatively easy for communications to veer towards fear-mongering.

However, fear isn’t always the best way to educate. Security awareness training — when performed right — doesn’t need to spook people out about the consequences of their actions. It can still be positive, fun, and engaging by encouraging people to develop better habits.

#13. Someone Will Always Mess Up — So It’s Not Worth Doing

There is no such thing as being fully cyber secure. There are too many moving parts, too much human error, and too many new and more sophisticated threats out there.

Some bosses take a fatalistic approach and think that because it’s hard to stop all threats, it’s just not worth doing at all. 

However, this is frankly irresponsible. Bosses have a duty to their employees and customers to ensure the company is well run. One part of this is ensuring that data and the future of the business are protected.

#14. It’s Too Complicated For Workers Who Aren’t Tech Savvy

One persistent misconception about security awareness training is that it will be too complicated for people who aren’t that tech-savvy. However, this is a myth. If someone can use a computer, they can easily understand security awareness training.

The other thing to consider is that employees have different experience levels. Therefore, security awareness training programs should be designed so that anyone can understand them. Additionally, security awareness training programs should be dynamic enough to identify and target users who are most in need of training. 

Summary

By addressing the misconceptions listed here, you will succeed in rolling out a security awareness program that is an inexpensive and effective counter-measure against attacks.

With Hook Security, you can easily launch, measure, and automate your security awareness training program and create an effective training program that works.

Click here to get your personalized demo and kick-start your security awareness training program!

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