The "New-School" Approach to Security Awareness Training

Unless you’re talking about homemade apple pie or Don Draper’s favorite cocktail, “old-fashioned” isn’t a flattering description, particularly when it comes to your security awareness training program.

It can be tough to equip your teams with the knowledge and skills they need to combat ever-evolving cybersecurity threats. Unfortunately, the same old-school security awareness programs simply won’t cut it.

Luckily, new-school security awareness training has emerged that drives higher engagement and yields better results. Let’s take a look at what’s changed from then to now:


What Is “New-School” Security Training?


What’s the difference between the old-school way and the new-school approach, you ask? It’s very simple. Consider a traditional security awareness program. The training is stagnant; it’s often conducted as a one-time course aimed at basic compliance. There is little to no follow-up, and your trainees are typically unengaged or taught to be fearful of ominous cyber threats.

New-school security awareness training takes a new approach, one that dives deeper. It encourages a higher level of preparedness through continuous learning, assessing participants through simulated attacks and other security scenarios, leveraging interactive design, and always teaching with compelling content that users find engaging.  


New-School vs. Old-School


Let’s say you stick to an old-school security awareness training program. Likely you’ll have your teams sit through static, boring Powerpoint presentations that occur only to check off the periodic employee training requirement. Then they will go on with their day and immediately forget the vast majority of material covered during the training. (We’re getting sleepy just thinking about it!)

Suppose you decide to take your security training efforts to the next level and give the new-school method a try instead. Now your trainees are learning compliance and best practices regularly with ongoing testing and practices. You’ll have a better understanding of who may need more training through consistent simulations of phishing, vishing, and smishing attacks. Your IT and security teams will sharpen their skills through repeated exercises and cybersecurity education.

Which would you rather?


What You Typically Get With the New-School Approach


The new-school approach promotes a higher level of readiness and security for your organization. A training platform that pushes a new-school cybersecurity awareness training approach typically includes:

  • Baseline Testing. Most new security training platforms will include a baseline of testing that often involves automated phishing attack simulations. This testing helps you determine which users are more vulnerable to these attacks and prepares your organization for defense against a real threat.
  • Content Libraries. Most new-school security awareness programs will offer a library of training materials to simplify and accelerate cybersecurity education.
  • User Management. You can easily store information, manage your end-users, and assign roles and permissions within a new-school platform.
  • Reporting Tools. Reporting features provide valuable insight into end-user performance and metrics that assess the efficacy of your training programs. Based on the actionable report findings, you’ll improve your process and better assist your teams. 


What the New-School Approach Is Often Missing


New-school security awareness training drives preparedness through continuous learning, testing, and data-driven tools.

This is excellent news for CISOs, right? The solution to an ineffective old-school approach is to implement a new training program and move forward. 

Not so fast!

While the new-school approach provides significant improvements over older methods, there are a few critical components to a successful program that even the newest-school approach doesn’t directly address.


1. Human Risk Management 

What is the driving force behind traditional security training? Fear. That might sound dramatic, but it’s true. Consider the fundamental concept woven into most compliance and cybersecurity education programs: participants are taught to fear that if they make a mistake, the consequences will be disastrous. They hear that they are the weakest link in the line of defense, which is stressful and discouraging. 

Human risk management is an approach to cybersecurity training that instead, empowers users through positive encouragement, motivational tactics, and experiential, customized learning. Human risk management, combined with the tech of a new-school security awareness program, offers the highest ROI for cybersecurity training today.


2. Personalization & Targeted Campaigns

Content libraries are no doubt helpful, especially for basic compliance education. But each company is unique, and CISOs have goals beyond the material that typical training platforms stock in libraries. 

The most effective way to educate your teams is through targeted campaigns, explicitly crafted for your organization’s needs and IT setup. The combination of a robust library of general training courses plus the capability to craft company-specific items drives the best results.


3. Experiential & Team-Based Learning

New-school security awareness training programs do offer valuable testing, attack simulations, and large content libraries. However, few include interactive and gamified content as well as videos, documents, and training modules. According to research conducted by the eLearning Industry publication, adult learners who participated in gamified learning sessions scored 14% higher on skill-based assessments.


Human Risk Management Transforms Cybersecurity Training


If you’re considering an upgrade to a new-school security awareness training platform, remember that humans are your greatest asset when it comes to security, not your biggest weakness. 

It’s almost impossible to change your culture around cybersecurity without understanding human risk management. And as cyberattacks continue to grow more sophisticated, it’s critical to inspire and motivate your team to succeed in protecting your organization.

Want to stay up-to-date on human risk management trends and best practices? Download the 7 Essential Trends Of Human Risk Management for 2021 guide today. 

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