Empower Your Employees to Become Security Awareness Champions

Many companies treat security awareness training as an optional exercise or a superfluous operating expense, while others craft their programs for the sole purpose of compliance. In fact, a security-aware workforce is a vital component of revenue preservation and is necessary to protect the company and its partners, customers and employees.

The key to crafting a successful security awareness program lies in how the material is presented to the workforce. Training materials should be clear, timely and localized, and they need to encourage employees to own calls to action.

Invest in Employee Empowerment

Security leaders should hold their employees accountable for the collective security of the company. Insist that the IT team is not solely responsible for security — we all own it.

Security awareness education should empower employees to do the right thing when confronted with security events. Give employees the tools they need to make better security decisions, and encourage them to reach out to experts within the organization when a given situation is beyond their skills.

Security Training Materials and Resources

We all learn differently. Scan the web and you’ll find security awareness training programs available as webinars, computer-based trainings, short videos, posters, long and short narratives, audio learning and more.

Videos seem to work well for most. The SANS Institute offers security awareness videos under the “Securing the Human” series. The institute release its most recent video in May 2017. SANS, a nonprofit, is widely recognized as the gold standard in security awareness training.

Newsletters, posters and email updates work well to constantly remind employees of security issues. SANS offers a variety of free materials in this regard, including weekly newsletters that are suitable for sharing. The Infosec Institute even offers a tutorial on how to create your own security awareness newsletter.

Physical training courses are also important. While most companies address security and privacy during orientation programs, that is usually an inopportune time to conduct important training. Security leaders should present new employees with a quick overview of the security expectations and follow up this introduction with a more thorough training the following week.

For leaders seeking turnkey training materials, The Security Awareness Company offers enough artwork, personalized emails and videos to conduct a year’s worth of training with multiple touch points.

Some organizations may need to focus on a specific topic such as phishing, which one of the most common entry points for malware and ransomware. Anti-phishing training company PhishMe offers 17 computer-based training modules for free.

Security Awareness Is Contagious

Put all those materials together, and you will have a security awareness program to write home about. Next it’s time to empower your employees and managers to recognize the security champions within their departments. These individuals should be recognized for making the company more secure, perhaps on a quarterly basis. Security should also be acknowledged as a key performance indicator during annual reviews.

Security awareness is contagious, and soon your efforts and those of your employees will foster a culture of security where every individual strives to protect the company every day. Every action makes the company more secure, and every security champion plays an important role.

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Christopher Burgess

CEO at Prevendra

Christopher Burgess is the CEO of Prevendra, a security, privacy and intelligence company. He is also an author, speaker and advocate for effective security strategies, be they for your company, home or family. Christopher co-authored "Secrets Stolen, Fortunes Lost: Preventing Intellectual Property Theft and Economic Espionage in the 21st Century" (Syngress, March 2008) and authored the e-book, "Senior Online Safety" (Prevendra, March 2014) and is the voice behind the website, "Senior Online Safety." Prior to the founding of Prevendra, Christopher held a variety of private and public sector positions, which included, chief operating office and chief security officer of a big data analytic company, Atigeo; Senior Security Advisor to the CSO of Cisco, a Fortune 100, and 30+ years within the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA awarded him the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal upon his retirement. Christopher resides in Woodinville, WA with his family, two dogs and two horses.