What Is Cybersecurity Awareness Training?

Discover the importance of cybersecurity awareness training, best practices, and FAQs in this comprehensive article.


Unfortunately, there is no “silver bullet” solution to close the cybersecurity awareness gaps in your organization. Human error has always been a leading cause of cybersecurity breaches. It was noticed that 82% of data breaches involve the human element. Whether the breach results from stolen credentials, phishing, misuse or a simple error, people play the largest role in these incidents.

What is security awareness training and why is it important?

Security awareness training is a process that equips your employees with the skills to recognize and respond to cybersecurity threats. The goal is to equip employees with the knowledge and skills they need to protect the organization’s information assets.

It’s important because it reduces the risk of data breaches, financial loss, and reputational damage.

Training programs educate staff on essential practices like identifying phishing scams, securing sensitive information, and complying with regulations.

Overall, it strengthens your organization’s defense against cyber threats and fosters a culture of vigilance.

Why do your employees need security awareness training?

Your employees are the first line of defense against cyber threats. Security awareness training helps them identify and respond to potential risks, protecting your organization from data breaches and financial losses.

Building a Human Firewall and cyber-aware culture goes beyond implementing cybersecurity tools and solutions; it involves creating a collective mindset of vigilance and responsibility toward cybersecurity throughout the business.

Employees need to understand the value of the information they handle daily and how to protect it. They need to be aware of the common tactics used by cybercriminals and how to respond if they suspect a cyber attack.

How long does it take to build a security awareness training program?

Building a security awareness program is not a one-time event but an ongoing process.  Building an awareness training program typically takes several weeks to a few months. The duration depends on the size of your organization, the complexity of the content, and available resources.

Initial stages include identifying needs, developing materials, and arranging schedules. Regular updates and ongoing adjustments are crucial to address evolving cybersecurity threats and maintain effectiveness.

Therefore training should be an ongoing, iterative process to ensure continuous improvement.

What are best practices for how to approach awareness training?

To approach awareness training effectively, tailor your program to your organization’s specific needs.

  • Conduct regular assessments to identify employees’ vulnerabilities.
  • Use a blended learning approach, combining online modules with interactive sessions.
  • Make training relevant: Use real-world examples and scenarios that employees can relate to.
  • Make training engaging: Use interactive elements, such as quizzes and games, to keep employees engaged.
  • Implement regular and tailored cybersecurity training sessions for all employees, for IT staff and for senior management.
  • Utilize online training resources and simulations to reinforce learning effectively.

If your budget is limited, leverage free online resources such as cybersecurity blogs, webinars, and tutorials to supplement employee training efforts. Monitor and measure progress through regular assessments and feedback. Make adjustments as necessary to ensure continuous improvement.

 Components of security awareness training

Security awareness training program components you should follow typically include these steps:

  • Know your company
  • Perform a cultural assessment
  • Communicate effectively
  • Consider regulations
  • Partner with stakeholders
  • Team up with the marketing team
  • Avoid imposing on employees
  • Leverage new hire orientations
  • Empower through recognition
  • Measure effectiveness.

 Security awareness training FAQs

How often should you conduct security awareness training programs?

Conducting security awareness trainings regularly is crucial for maintaining a robust cybersecurity posture. It is recommended that enterprises hold cybersecurity awareness training every four to six months. At four months after initial training, employees are still able to spot phishing emails, but after six months, they start to forget what they have learned. To keep pace with the rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape, consider quarterly or bi-annual refresher sessions.

security awareness training
security awareness training

What Are Some Security Awareness Training Best Practices?

First, tailor the content to your organization’s specific needs. Use a blended learning approach that merges online modules with interactive sessions.

You may consider using classroom-based training (physical or virtual) or a learning management system (LMS) to automate the delivery.

Involve leadership to underline the importance of the training. Monitor your progress using assessments and feedback, making necessary adjustments to continuously improve the program.

What Is the Main Purpose of Security Awareness Training?

The main purpose of security awareness training is to equip employees with the knowledge and skills they need to protect the organization’s information assets.

With security awareness training, the main goal is creating and maintaining awareness about IT security risks and good digital habits. In other words, it doesn’t exactly require a super deep understanding of the subject matter. Your co-workers should simply be aware of the different risks out there and how to deal with them. For instance, they should know about common ways security breaches can happen and how they can avoid them. 
The aim to create an organizational culture of security-conscious behavior. Such a culture helps in minimizing the risk of data breaches, financial loss, and reputational damage.

What Are the Benefits of Security Awareness Training?

Benefits of security awareness training include reducing the risk of a security breach, complying with regulatory requirements, and fostering a culture of security within the organization.  Additionally, it minimizes human error, often a significant factor in security incidents. A well-informed workforce and company’s management leads to a more secure and vigilant organization.

What Should Security Awareness Training Include?

A comprehensive security awareness training program should cover several key elements:

  • Phishing awareness to help employees recognize and avoid phishing scams
  • Password management techniques to emphasize the importance of creating strong, unique passwords
  • Safe internet usage
  • Identification of social engineering attacks
  • Data protection practices
  • Physical security
  • incident reporting

Use phishing tests to increase security awareness

To increase security awareness, incorporate phishing tests into your training program. These tests simulate real phishing attacks to gauge your employees’ ability to recognize and handle them. Than, you can tailor training efforts to address specific groups of employees.

Phishing tests provide practical, hands-on experience, reinforcing the importance of vigilance and continuous learning.

What is GDPR awareness training?

This training focuses on educating employees about the GDPR and its implications for data handling and privacy. It covers essential topics such as the principles of data protection and the rights of data subjects.

It also explains the responsibilities of your employees. The training ensures that staff understands how to complying with GDPR.

This protects the organization from fines and reputational damage.

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