No one doubts the value of cybersecurity, but unfortunately, organizations are often unaware of how to fully eliminate their cyber risk.

One element of cybersecurity, security awareness training (SAT), is particularly important for mitigating risk — especially given the fact that 57% of respondents surveyed by Cybersecurity Insiders said that insider attacks became more frequent in 2021.

But not all SAT is created equal; organizations need to really think about which program they pursue and how they deliver and reinforce the training that their employees receive. Ultimately, organizations need to utilize a program that offers more than check-the-box exercises — one that can form the foundation of a security-first culture.

Yet, a quick search for SAT options reveals an overwhelming number of options, approaches and styles, which can make choosing the right option for your organization’s needs and risk profile difficult.

To help your organization cut through the digital noise, here are three key things your team should be looking for in an SAT program that can turn your staff from the “weakest link” in your chain to your biggest security advocates.

1. Promote Learner Engagement

One of the main ingredients to making SAT stick long after delivery is choosing a method that is adaptive to your organization’s culture and that focuses on engaging learners.

Known as experiential learning, an SAT program that uses simulations of real-life scenarios that draw on your employees’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, delivers interactive content and even provides opportunities for gamification, can have a number of benefits.

Some of the most important include:

  • Increased engagement: Flipping traditionally passive SAT into active learning opportunities piques learners’ interest and holds their attention longer.
  • A boost in retention: Research shows that when experiential learning methods like a “choose your own adventure game” are used, information retention beyond two weeks more than doubles compared to other learning methods.
  • Accelerated learned behaviors: Realistic scenarios and engaging storylines paired with reinforcing decision-point interactions quicken learning and help to create positive, repeatable security behaviors so employees know what to do when faced with similar situations.

There has also been a rise in microlearning, which can include short training programs delivered directly to employees via a variety of digital platforms. These short bursts of learning can be used to reinforce key elements and can be tailored to the learner without taking up too much of their time.

2. Measure Program Impact On Security Culture

As with any other business process, select an SAT program that weaves in the ability to gauge the effectiveness of its training with objective metrics.

In addition to being able to communicate the value of your organization’s security culture with your stakeholders, being able to track metrics gives your team the ability to:

  • Refocus your program on specific job functions or topic areas.
  • Track engagement and remove areas of friction or hurdles holding employees back.
  • Collect feedback to pinpoint areas for improvement.
  • Monitor progress toward the five domains of cybersecurity culture: confidence, responsibility, engagement, trust and outcomes.

Together, metrics like these can help your organization to deliver training that improves security habits before it’s too late.

3. Find the Right Training Partner

As with other elements of cybersecurity, more doesn’t always mean better.

Instead, IT leaders should look to focus their time, budget and energy on platforms that can facilitate holistic (rather than patchwork) offerings. Not only will this change in approach help to streamline their training budget, but employees will also be met with a more consistent and organized SAT experience across their learning program.

Whether your organization is looking for its first SAT partner or is in the market for a new provider, the key elements that should be on your must-have list for a training partner include:

  • Experience: Training partners that have the technical and educational experience to deliver a comprehensive range of SAT programs, materials and engaging content that reflects the latest best practices.
  • Responsive Customer Support: The right partner views the beginning of your engagement as the beginning of a long-term relationship, offering support, expertise and additional tools every step of the way. Security awareness training is continuously evolving, so a partner with a customer-first approach will help to keep your organization ahead of tomorrow’s threats.
  • Flexible Content: The ability to customize your SAT training to meet your organization’s work environment can make content more accessible, relevant and digestible, promoting a more positive overall experience.

Bringing It All Together

Picking the right SAT partner involves a number of decisions — but taking the time to research and select the right partner can be key in securing your workforce and raising awareness at your organization.

In other words, instead of selecting a traditional one-size-fits-all security awareness training program driven by a focus on compliance and fear-infused content, choose a partner able to provide positive, empowering learning experiences paired with the metrics to strengthen your entire security culture.