How to make cybersecurity training more engaging

September 23rd, 2020
How to make cybersecurity training more engaging

Most employees dread security awareness training. It’s understandable too, at least if they’ve so far only been exposed to lackluster presentations and boring workshops.

But while cybersecurity might not be a source of fascination and excitement for your average employee, that doesn’t mean training has to be boring and repetitive. You can make training enjoyable and effective through the following ways:

1. Make it relevant

If training sessions are riddled with jargon that nobody’s familiar with, people will lose interest in no time. The last thing anyone wants to do is sit through a lengthy talk on the complexities of advanced persistent threats (APTs) and other technicalities. Similarly, nobody wants to hear a dull talk that entirely revolves around the company and what they need to do to protect it.

Cybersecurity is everyone’s concern, not just in the workplace, but also in their personal lives. Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, social engineering scams, and a raft of other threats. Awareness training should never take an academic approach, but instead revolve around real-world, practical activities that are relevant to employees both at home and at work.

2. Use gamification

Gamification combines the interactive mechanics of competitive games with tailored learning experiences that are both addictive and enjoyable. It’s a proven way to get people to engage with hands-on activities that stay in memory.

In cybersecurity training, gamification exposes employees to a realistic simulation of a specific threat and then engages them with interactive elements to help them solve it. It’s a practical, hands-on activity that works much like a video game and works wonders for taking the tedious elements out of conventional training programs.

3. Reward success

You can take the concept of gamification further by turning it into a competitive, points-driven experience. For example, just like in many modern video games, trainees might collect experience points, ranks, or badges, which denote specific achievements. Even if this sounds superficial, it’s a proven psychological trick to get people to engage regularly and consistently.

Although rewarding success is highly effective in cybersecurity training, it doesn’t necessarily need to involve material goods. Most employees are happy being recognized for their efforts and achievements. For example, you may highlight them as exemplars of doing the right thing in a monthly cybersecurity newsletter.

4. Gather feedback

You can’t expect to maintain a successful security awareness training program if you aren’t open to employee feedback. Still, a lot of businesses just mandate training without caring what their employees think about it. This is the wrong approach, simply because people who don’t want to learn rarely retain information.

Gathering feedback by way of polls, surveys, and open discussion groups reveals insights into how you can improve your training program. Feedback is also vital for measuring success. It’s also important to vary your training materials and formats to accommodate different learning styles as much as possible.

5. Prioritize teamwork

Cybersecurity threats come in many different forms ranging from simple phishing emails to highly sophisticated attacks sustained over extended periods. But there’s one thing that every threat has in common: they can target any business and any individual. All members of staff need to be ready to put in a collective effort in keeping the business, and themselves, safe.

Monolithic training videos and textbooks aren’t going to keep anyone engaged. It’s fine to offer a solo learning experience to those who prefer it, but teamwork is still an essential part of the process. After all, maintaining a good cybersecurity posture is just as much about creating a company-wide culture of accountability where people work together to overcome the threats.

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