How inconvenient: why some cyber awareness training programs fail, and what you can do to make it a success.

We are all very used to instant gratification when it comes to our online interactions – both at the office and at home, but with it comes an ever-evolving array of cyber threats. As organisations scramble to fortify their cyber defences, one key element often gets overlooked: the human element. No matter how robust your firewalls or encryption tools are, a single employee clicking on a malicious link can render them useless.

The human element isn’t a new vector and it’s something most organisations have identified as a risk, so many companies have rolled out cyber awareness training programs, aiming to educate their staff about the dangers lurking online.

A significant number of these programs fail to make a lasting impact
Here's why:

1. Lengthy, Overwhelming Modules

Many security awareness training programs are dense and overwhelming. The security awareness team will have a huge list of training and needs, and if there isn’t a great delivery system, it means the rollout can be clunky.

When confronted with a 2-hour module, employees often zone out or rush through without absorbing the content. This is where Phriendly Phishing’s bite-sized training excels. By breaking down the content into digestible chunks, learners can absorb, understand, and retain information more efficiently.

2. Lack of Localised Content and Real-World Applications

Theory without practice is ineffective. Some programs provide heaps of theoretical knowledge but lack real-world simulations. Phriendly Phishing incorporates phishing simulations, giving users hands-on experience in identifying and avoiding threats, reinforcing the learning process. Much of our training also incorporates quizzes and interactive elements that engage the learner. We also customise the content to Australian, New Zealand and UK information.

3. One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Different individuals have different learning curves. Some may grasp concepts quickly, while others might need more time or repetition. Training programs that do not cater to these differences risk alienating or boring their audience. Getting the same old obvious phishing simulation will cause fatigue and real threats can be missed, getting a training module that doesn’t apply to you will cause distrust and scepticism of the whole program. Role based, assessment and level-based training is a necessity to keep employees engaged and learning real skills.

4. No Continuous Learning

Cyber threats evolve continuously. A training program done once a year won't suffice. Regular updates and refreshers are crucial, something that a solution like Phriendly Phishing understands and incorporates. Our training is delivered in the moment after a missed phishing simulation, and the rest of the training can be scheduled in advance.

5. Absence of Feedback Mechanisms

For training to be effective, instant feedback is crucial. The Phishing Reporter Button is an innovative tool by Phriendly Phishing that allows users to report suspicious emails with a single click, giving them immediate feedback on their actions and decisions. Learner feedback on individual courses is also important so you can schedule different training in the future, or for the provider to update the content.

6. Inadequate Handling of Reported Incidents

When employees report a suspected phishing email, the follow-up process can be cumbersome and slow in many organisations. This demotivates employees from being vigilant. Phriendly Phishing's email triage product Phish Focus streamlines this process, ensuring that reported threats are dealt with efficiently in an automatic quarantine, real threats are globally deleted using Phish Clear, and Phlipper can turn the malicious email into the next simulation.

7. Neglecting Organisational Culture

Training should not be an isolated event. It should be part of an organisation's culture. When cyber security becomes an integral part of the company ethos, employees are more likely to take it seriously. A positive culture of ‘we’re all in this together’ is crucial, as well as not demonising mistakes when they happen – the last thing you want is fear to ensure nothing is reported or talked about.

For cyber awareness training to be effective, it needs to be engaging, continuous, and relevant. Solutions that offer bite-sized lessons, real-world simulations, and regular feedback are the future of cyber security training. As cyber threats continue to evolve, so must our approach to cyber security education. The key lies in not just informing but actively engaging and empowering our workforce to be the first line of defence.

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