Information Security Trainings: Summer School Edition

Summertime and the living is easy! Though most of us may be years out of school, deep down, we still think of summer vacation as the time to let go a bit. People still usually take their actual vacations during the summer. Even if we can’t get away, a spirit of summer vacation is always in the air.

But cybercriminals do not take summer vacations. So what can we do to keep people on their toes during the lazy season? Information security trainings, if done right, can provide just a taste of summer school to help wake employees up and keep good habits from getting rusty.

Fresh Air and Fresh Skills

Security is a year-round challenge. Scheduling regular information security trainings should be an integral, ongoing part of the overall security awareness and education process. All the same, summer is a distinct season in the annual cycle of cybersecurity management as well as in the overall rhythm of business life.

As previously noted, winter lends itself to winterizing IT security to handle new threats and compliance rules, while spring is the time for spring cleaning your security environment. Ahead lies the fall; it’s the busiest season of the year, especially in retail, but also across nearly all lines of business.

The summer, when security team members may be taking their well-deserved vacations, is less suited to big, seasonal projects, including extended security training programs. But for precisely that reason, the summer is a good time for shorter information security trainings intended to combine heightened security awareness with, dare we say, a bit of fun.

Yes, Security Awareness Trainings Can Be Fun

The humor element in data security awareness is probably somewhat lost on security professionals. For them, the latest easily guessed password or carelessly clicked spear phishing link is just one more headache.

If you step back a bit, a lot of crucial security awareness issues are comical. People out there — and lots of them — really do decide that “12345,” “princess” or even “password” are just the way for them to safeguard not only their business accounts but, often, even their personal bank accounts.

Computerworld provided a handy annual summary of the most popular, and therefore most useless, passwords. From these bad examples, it is not hard to cultivate a one-afternoon training session that focuses on simple but effective methods of building (and remembering) strong passwords.

Other security threats have their own humor value. Nigerian princes have long since become part of pop culture lore, but spear phishing offers a whole window on human psychology. A few words from our Facebook pages, echoed back to us, can trick us into thinking that an email is from a friend or colleague. Again, while spear phishing is a big headache for security professionals, it also can include some pretty amusing trickery in its own right.

The key to successful information security trainings in the summer is to keep them short, vivid and focused on awareness. Awareness is the key element in encouraging people to follow sound security practices. Many employees just don’t realize the security risks they are taking. A bit of security summer school can be just the thing to wake them up.

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Rick Robinson is a writer and blogger, with a current 'day job' focus on the tech industry and a particular interest in the interplay of tech-driven factors and business considerations - think of the relationship between virtualization and cloud computing. Rick also blogs at Rocketpunk Manifesto on outer space, possible futures, speculative technology, and speculative literature. He has also had print articles published on aviation and military history.