Reduce Human Error: How To Build A Successful Employee Awareness Program

How to ensure you have a security aware workforce


According to the Harvard Business Review, breach of cybersecurity is the biggest internal threat to your company. If your business is in financial services, manufacturing, or the healthcare industry, you want to pay particular attention to this article because these are the three industries most likely to be under attack. Here we have detailed a step-by-step process you can implement for your employees to protect against internal cyber threats. Personalize this information to develop the employee awareness program that best serves your industry and needs.

Step 1: Develop an Awareness of the Issue

Before you can implement any cybersecurity changes as part of the awareness program, you need to identify threats. Your company must make clear the security issues threatening or currently affecting your employees.

Are employees becoming lax with password security? Do they access personal social media accounts from work computers? Are you concerned that employees are making errors that may lead to malware breaches?

Find out where your company’s weak cyber links are so that you can create an awareness program based on these areas first. In the future, you can always upgrade the program to meet new cybersecurity threats.

Step 2: Make Awareness Programs Fun

From IBM Security Intelligence, the recommendation for a security awareness program involves gaming. If you want to get, and maintain, the attention of your employees you will need to create a stimulating and rewarding program. How do you do this without sidestepping the importance of cybersecurity?

Easy. Since you already have selected the top cybersecurity risks for employees, you have a goal for them to reach. For example, if you want to reduce the number of suspicious emails, make it into a contest to see who can report this activity most often. Remember to include some form of reward to generate more participation.

Step 3: Simulate Mock Cybersecurity Threats

How can you test your employee awareness program? By creating cybersecurity threats that you control in a test situation. For instance, let’s say you have implemented a program in which employees are required to log out of social media when using company devices. Devise a simulation that showcases what could happen if someone hacked into one of these employee’s accounts and stole secret information related to the company.

To maintain control of the situation, choose one of your managers or security awareness leaders as the guinea pig. Before you proceed with a mock threat to your employees, Trustwave recommends giving your team plenty of notice. Just make sure it is far enough in advance that your employees are still able to maintain the element of surprise.

Step 4: Reminders, Resets, and Repeats

Now you have targeted potential security risks and created a fun and stimulating employee awareness program for cyber threats. Your team has simulated a threatening situation to test the results. What next? Here are a few options.

Option 1 involves sticking to the existing program while providing ongoing training and refresher courses. Option 2 consists of updating the plan to reflect new cybersecurity threats.

A well-rounded awareness program implements both options as needed. Cybersecurity threats will continue to pop up either because of human error, new hire situations, lax cybersecurity, new technologies and the list goes on. Your awareness program should evolve around these needs to remain effective.

Step 5: Choose a Critical Alerting Service

What happens if your company experiences a genuine cybersecurity threat? How are you connecting to each of your employees? If you do not have a rapid time threat notification system in place, it is time to enact a critical alerting service. This tool is instrumental in establishing and initiating a cyber awareness program. Critical notifications give your employees the information they need to step in with a security management system.


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