Creating a Culture of Cybersecurity: Security Awareness Training 101

As the world becomes increasingly digitized, the need for security awareness training programs has skyrocketed. These programs are designed to help individuals, organizations, and businesses understand the risks and dangers of cybercrime, and how to protect themselves and their sensitive data.

A security awareness training program is a comprehensive approach to educating people about cybersecurity. It includes all aspects of cyber threats, such as phishing scams, malware, ransomware, identity theft, and more. Such programs typically include courses, workshops, and simulations that teach individuals how to recognize threats and how to respond to them.

In this article, we're going to explore in-depth the basics of security awareness training and why it's essential.

Why Security Awareness Training Is Important

As cybercrime continues to rise, it's become more important than ever to educate people on how to identify and prevent threats to their personal and professional data. Security awareness training helps to reduce the likelihood of an attack and mitigate its impact. By providing formal cybersecurity training to employees, companies can better protect themselves from the ill-effects of cybercrime.

The following are some of the top reasons why security awareness training is crucial:

1. Reducing the Risk of Data Breaches

According to the Breach Level Index, there were over 5 billion records breached in just the first half of 2018. More than 90% of these records were compromised by hackers, illustrating the need for a well-rounded security awareness program. Through these programs, company employees can recognize unauthorized access attempts, such as phishing emails, and take swift action to prevent a breach.

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2. Enhancing the Culture of Security

Security awareness training helps to create a culture of security within an organization. As more and more people become educated in cybersecurity best practices, they are better equipped to identify potential threats and act accordingly. This creates a more secure work environment and promotes greater communication around the subject of cybersecurity.

3. Ensuring Compliance

Many companies are required to follow strict regulations and laws regarding data privacy and security. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European Union (EU) regulation that mandates companies protect the personal data of EU citizens. Failure to comply can lead to huge fines, damaged reputations, and a loss of customer trust. Security awareness training can help ensure that employees understand their role in compliance and how to mitigate any related risks.

Components of a Security Awareness Training Program

To be effective, a security awareness training program must include several essential components. These include:

1. Analysis of Threats

The first step in establishing a security awareness training program is to conduct a thorough analysis of the types of threats that a company is likely to face. This can include an assessment of the business's current security posture, gaps in that posture, the regulatory environment in which the business operates, and potential threat actors.

2. Education on Cybersecurity Best Practices

Once the threats have been identified, the next step is to educate employees on best practices in cybersecurity. This may include topics such as phishing, ransomware, password management, and more.

3. Training in Incident Response

Even with the best security policy, it's impossible to prevent all cybersecurity incidents. A security awareness training program must also include training on how to respond to an incident, including who to notify, how to secure systems, and a clear line of communication that ensures that all necessary personnel are aware of the incident.

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4. Regular Testing

To ensure that employees remember what they have learned, regular testing is crucial. This may take the form of simulated phishing attempts or other forms of social engineering. If an employee fails a test, a refresher course should be administered.

Real-World Examples of Security Awareness Training Programs

There are several impressive examples of security awareness training programs that have had incredible success in reducing the risk of cybercrime. Let's take a closer look at some of these programs.

1. KnowBe4

KnowBe4 is a platform designed specifically for security awareness training. It's a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that delivers a broad range of cybersecurity courses, phishing simulations, and testing. KnowBe4's courses are interactive and engaging, which helps individuals remember what they've learned.

2. Wombat Security

Wombat Security, which has since been acquired by Proofpoint, is another cloud-based learning management system that offers a wide range of cybersecurity courses. Wombat's unique approach to training is to focus on cognitive conditioning, which has been shown to help employees remember the training better than traditional methods.

3. SANS Institute

The SANS Institute is one of the most respected and renowned cybersecurity organizations in the world. Among its offerings is a program called SANS Securing The Human. This program includes classroom training, web-based courses, and phishing simulations. It also offers a free resource library that anyone can use to improve their security awareness.


The impact of cybercrime on businesses, individuals, and society as a whole cannot be overstated. Security awareness training programs represent a crucial piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. These programs must be comprehensive, engaging, and regularly updated to be effective. With the right program in place, organizations can reduce the likelihood of a cybersecurity incident and minimize its impact if it does occur.

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