The five most common pitfalls of cyber security awareness training (2024)

The most common pitfalls

Boring content

How it happens

One of the most common pitfalls is having boring, unengaging content. Training that is overly technical, dry, or repetitive can quickly lose employees’ attention, leading to poor retention and low engagement.

This slows the training completion rate and requires security managers to spend more time completing follow-ups and check-ins. Not only is it wasting your time, but it wastes the money invested in your program as employees retain little information.

What to do

  • Make it interactive: Incorporate interactive elements such as quizzes, simulations, and scenario-based learning to keep employees engaged.
  • Use natural competitive spirit: Leverage the natural instinct to win by adding competition into your training. Have leaderboards that show the top champions in your security training.
  • Relatable examples: Use real-world examples and stories that employees can relate to, demonstrating the relevance and importance of cyber security in their daily roles.
  • Make it short: Only require employees to complete training a few minutes per day throughout the year, rather than all at once. This increases retention and engagement time.

Impossible to customize

Although video content can be entertaining, it is impossible to customize without completely refilming. This means that any video training that you invest in, will cost you double the resources when you need to customize or update your content.

In an ideal scenario, your training is being constantly updated based on emerging external threats, new internal duties, and identified weaknesses. If training content is never updated, employees will be missing critical knowledge to fight against the newest and most prominent threats.

What to do

  • Regular audits: Routinely complete audits of new external and internal threats. Within the audit also analyze the employee’s performance in training to spot any particular weak groups or vulnerabilities.
  • Choose a flexible platform: Choose a platform and format that allows you to easily customize and update your content. Simulation-based training will enable you to update content regularly in a matter of seconds.

Takes too much time

What happens

Some businesses complete live phishing tests every week. That means 52 tests that a security manager has to create, schedule, and check. This time commitment is completely unnecessary and takes away from your availability to connect with team members and conduct regular audits.

What to do

  • Create a continuous practice environment: Instead of testing employees in their inbox, allow them to practice in a simulated environment. This stops you from having to schedule and analyze weekly tests.
  • Automatic feedback: Implement automatic feedback in your security awareness program so not only can employees implement their learnings immediately, but the security awareness manager also gets their time back.

Questioning usefulness

What happens

Does covering phishing, social engineering, and personal data once a year help your employees fight against cyber criminals? And what if it’s the same training as last year?

These are typical questions asked by security managers after hiring a vendor. They question if the limited and repetitive training is useful. This is a valid question, as we know people need to be trained more than once a year on diverse topics based on their knowledge and position.

What to do

  • Implement continuous training: Instead of one long yearly training session, implement shorter training sessions throughout the year. This will increase retention and reduce the workload for team members.
  • Conduct regular interviews and audits: Set KPIs for your awareness program and regularly audit to see the results. These may be more qualitative KPIs as one of the best signs of good security is having a positive security culture, which you can measure through interviews with employees.

Scheduling takes too much time

What happens

In some security programs scheduling courses, notifications, and reporting takes up too much time for security managers. The idea is that they want an automated program, but setting up automation takes up more of their time than expected. This can lead to overworking and burnout for the security awareness manager.

What to do

  • Work with a third party: Working with a third-party vendor can help take the scheduling and course building off your plate. Ensure that this is included in the package you choose before purchasing.
  • Centralized platform: Look for a platform that uses LMS to complete all the scheduling, notifications, and reports for you.

Cyber security training is crucial for protecting an organization against cyber threats, but it must be done right to be effective. By avoiding these common pitfalls – boring content, lack of customization, excessive time demands, questioning usefulness, and scheduling challenges – organizations can create engaging, relevant, and efficient training programs. With the right approach, cyber security managers can increase engagement and avoid constant switching between vendors.

The five most common pitfalls of cyber security awareness training (2024)
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