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August 25, 2021

10 Security Awareness Questions CISOs Can't Answer

Facing challenges implementing and measuring your security awareness training program? Whether you’re struggling to prove its overall return on investment or pulling hair trying to get your team interested, we suspect you’re here because you’re not getting the buy-in you need.

The good news is, you’re not alone. While 73% of CISOs say security culture is a top priority, fewer than half believe they have a positive security culture that allows for the changes they need. But what’s to blame?

Here are 10 security awareness questions you may have trouble answering, with some tips for cybersecurity program owners and CISOs alike to push your security initiative to its full potential. 

Do You Know the Answers to these Cybersecurity Security Questions?

What are the strengths of our current human cybersecurity program? What about our weaknesses?

It’s not uncommon to overlook the ways your employees are supporting your security initiative. A staff member who reports a possible phishing email or consistently stays on-top of software updates should be praised and recognized. Consider a few ways your team members are currently boosting your security.

On the other hand, sometimes the worst human threats are avoided or ignored to avoid costly and time-consuming adjustments. For instance, an employee who skips setting up multi-factor authentication to bypass a step in the login process or a management board who decides against investing in security awareness training because of budgetary reasons are both prime examples of weaknesses in your defenses. Ask yourself, what have you been avoiding addressing and why

Where are we struggling? What departments and regions are most vulnerable?

“Good question!” you may think… Because many companies have no or little security monitoring or reporting, they simply don’t have data or insights into their vulnerabilities. Since they’re not auditing their processes or monitoring gaps in their security, they’re not sure where to improve.

If you have a few ideas about your bottlenecks, jot a few down. Note the department who are struggling and why you think you’re experiencing those hurdles or risks.

What areas of threats are my end users unaware of? What blindspots are my end users vulnerable to?

New cyber threats are emerging regularly— and it’s your responsibility to keep your team informed and working together to protect your assets. But organizations that don’t invest in security training often have no clue what their employees know and don’t know about security. If you’ve noticed a few gaps in your security, write down the problems and a few reasons why your employees may be unaware of or falling victim to said threats.

How can I get more buy-in internally on our security culture?

It’s no secret that many employees and managers alike high-tail it at the sound of cybersecurity awareness training, assuming that the program will be time-consuming and simply a check box for compliance that won’t actually make a difference. Consider a few ways you can get staff and managers excited about the training again.

How can I get other departments on board with my security awareness program?

While cybersecurity program managers and CISOs understand the importance of educating employees across the entire organization about threats and reducing human risk, internal teams have their own department initiatives and usually don’t have time for yours. How can you convince your team leads that your company security matters and empower them to help support your initiatives?

How do I get department heads to be willing to participate?

Other departments are busy with their own projects. To get them involved in your security goals, you have to make your requests easy for them to do. Brainstorm a few ways you could give managers the tools they need to help their teams, without putting extra work on your department heads’ already full plates.

How do I get this to be more than merely a compliance box to check off?

Often, employees and managers are making security adjustments because they have to, not because they actually want to or see the real value in making changes. Really ask yourself, “why should they care?” Start thinking in terms of their motivations and how you can make security awareness more attractive and less menacing or laborious.

How do I provide training that doesn’t taste like medicine?

Pitching a mandatory training program can leave a bad taste in your teams’ mouths. To them, the whole thing just doesn’t seem worthwhile (and it sounds a lot like extra work). Ponder a few ways you can make your educational programs appealing, such as the way you internally market the initiative and how you’ll reward participants for their time and effort.

How do we provide content my end users love?

Most of today’s purchased cybersecurity awareness training programs aren’t well put together, making the lesson plans or videos tedious to get through. Consider a few ways you can make the educational resources genuinely interesting and engaging to really get your company involved.

How do I have training so good that end users own it, look forward to it and tell other employees how awesome it is?

Whew, that’s a tough question, isn’t it? Even if you get your employees and management interested in your security security training and initiatives, how do you get them personally invested— or to feel positively responsible for security? Dare say, how do you make them eager to keep learning and encourage others to help maintain your security in the future? Write down a few ways you could turn your everyday staff or department heads into an advocate for your data protection 

Why You Don’t Have the Answers

If you’re struggling to answer these questions, you’re not alone. 

Let us ask you a few revealing follow-up questions... 

  • Do you paint your employees or managers as your biggest security weakness?
  • Do you blame them for your company’s vulnerabilities and make them feel like the “bad guys?”
  • Have you given your team a reason to care about your security, beyond the “you have to” demands and compliance checkboxes?
  • Have you provided your team with the resources they need to learn more about cybersecurity, in an exciting training package that’ll actually interest them?

Your Solution to Measurable Security Awareness 

The first step to getting your team invested in your security is making them feel powerful—in a good way! No one wants to walk on eggshells, fearing that one wrong move will get them into trouble. Instead, advocate your users as your greatest asset. After all, they hold so much power in protecting your brand, and should be praised and rewarded for their contributions to your security. Give your team the tools they need to learn and make them feel appreciated— only then will they become long-term advocates for your security.

Beyond adjusting the way you view and approach your team, it’s time to properly monitor and improve your security by bringing real metrics to the table. Choose a security training program that factors in risk scoring, training data, data around human action, and security threats to give you tangible results and ROI.  

security awareness training data dashboard

With the right analytics and reporting tools, you can stop hoping your security awareness program is making a difference and know it is with certainty. This puts you in control of your risk management again to make better-informed decisions and prove your hard work is paying off.

Turn Human Risk into Human Strength

The first step in reducing human risk within your organization is understanding all the risks your team is vulnerable to— so you can empower your employees with the knowledge and tools they need to advocate your security. 

Download the guide 7 Essential Trends of Human Risk Management for 2021 for some data-driven ideas for getting your team truly as invested in your security posture as you are.

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