Written by: Daniel Haurey on 02/12/24

One simple, affordable step that any business can take toward better cybersecurity is establishing a cadence of security awareness training sessions. Your best line of defense against cyber attacks is often sitting right inside your company. By educating employees about threats, common vulnerabilities, and the right steps if faced with a threat, you’ll improve your cybersecurity posture tremendously.

Because nearly every major data breach starts with human error, and 90% of cyber attacks start with a phishing email according to industry leader Hook Security, taking a systematic approach to training your team can have a big impact quickly. Employees are bombarded with phishing emails every day, and as bad actors continue to refine their attacks, identifying and avoiding those traps is growing increasingly difficult.

Effective security awareness training should check several boxes:

  • It incorporates into your employee’s daily work tasks
  • It doesn’t punish but instead educates
  • It’s simple and engaging (maybe even a little humorous)
  • It teaches employees new habits
  • It applies to everyone (yes, even the C-suite)
  • It’s personalized

How Much Should You Invest in Security Awareness Training?

Security awareness training is most often outsourced, with many vendors offering programs that retrain employee thinking about email, passwords, and access points. If you partner with a managed IT services provider, that business likely offers a training program or can recommend one. While many cybersecurity vendors have simple, DIY training programs, those programs are often static and lack specifics about new types of threats.

Training your team in cybersecurity best practices is an ongoing effort and should be part of your annual budget. Because of the ongoing evolution of cyber threats and the creative, persistent nature of bad actors, security awareness training is never really “complete.” Most programs are priced per employee and include an annual contract. Expect to pay between $10 and $40 per employee for a reputable and thorough program.

When considering security awareness training, remember this: Effective security awareness training improves your company’s cybersecurity culture and reduces phishing email clicks by your employees by as much as 70%.

Compliance Standards and Cyber Insurance Often Require Security Awareness Training

As the impact of cyber attacks continues to grow, more and more regulatory agencies and cyber insurance companies are requiring organizations to invest in security awareness training. If your business is regulated by any of the following mandates, you will likely be in violation of the standards if no training is in place:

  • SOX
  • 23 NYCRR 500
  • ISO/IEC 27001
  • ISO/IEC 27002
  • GDPR and other privacy laws

Businesses interested in cyber liability insurance, which can offset the staggering financial impact of a data breach or other cyber attack, will likely want to start security awareness training before shopping for coverage. Nearly all insurance companies look for a security training program before considering your organization for coverage.

Listen to our educational webinar about securing cyber insurance

With heightened cybersecurity awareness, you are protecting not only business assets but also your organizational reputation. When customers can’t be serviced and your employees are sitting idle, your organization loses money. When customers hear that your business was the point of failure that allowed their personal information to hit the Dark Web, you’ll likely also lose clients. Don’t let that happen.

How Does Security Awareness Training Work?

When you engage with reputable, effective security awareness training, your team will start to receive automated phishing emails, simulating real-life methods. This allows employees to respond in their own environment and puts the training into action at the point of infraction. If an employee clicks on a phishing test, they are redirected to a landing page with a quick training experience, which includes a short, educational video along with tips on how to spot and avoid phishing emails in the future. Over time, employees’ habits evolve, their awareness grows, and the chances of a breach decrease. 

For more effective prevention, be sure to work with your IT provider to create a security awareness training policy. Exigent offers training policy guidance as part of our solution, Vigilant Awareness, as well as help with crafting a thorough incident response plan to help in the case a bad actor manages to thwart all your cybersecurity defenses.

Download our incident response template and checklist

Interested in learning more about security awareness training? Let’s talk.