Best Practices for Cybersecurity Awareness Training


Many experts are predicting a recession in 2023. The extent of the recession is up for debate—it ranges from mild to severe. Regardless of what the recession looks like, IT professionals often agree that a recession regularly means higher occurrences of cybersecurity concerns. According to Accenture’s State of Cybersecurity Report 2021, cyber-attacks per company rose 31% between 2020 and 2021. That means that hackers may be more active as the economy heads toward a downturn—which is certainly bad for business.

When businesses combine a workforce operating from anywhere and a recession, the combination may result in big opportunities for hackers. Companies need to consider their cybersecurity awareness training now, ahead of economic predictions. By creating best practices and training, companies can avoid costs & downtime associated with a cyber-attack.

The Basics: What Is Cybersecurity Awareness Training?

While it’s common knowledge that businesses and individuals do what they can to avoid cyber-attacks, implementing the right cybersecurity is often overlooked. That is where cybersecurity awareness training can make a tremendous impact—it puts cybersecurity on each employee’s radar.

Cybersecurity awareness training helps employees recognize potential problems and threats and act on them. That action can be avoidance (such as not opening a suspicious email) or as simple as reporting a concern to management.

As a business manager or owner, your team is often the first line of defense when it comes to cybersecurity. In fact, the IBM Security Intelligence Index indicates that upwards of 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. Cybersecurity awareness training enables employees to drastically minimize security risks simply by being aware of best practices and procedures.

Best Practices for Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Creating a Good Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program

Not a one-size-fits-all, cybersecurity awareness training looks a little different for each business. Companies may have certain areas that need to be addressed, or they may have unique threats that are specific to their industry. For instance, a carpet cleaning company will have very different security concerns than an accounting office.

Regardless of the differences among cybersecurity needs, a successful cybersecurity awareness training program often has the same foundational components.


1. Full Participation

The best cybersecurity awareness training programs involve everyone in your company. While some roles might not have access to sensitive information compared to others, ensuring that everyone is trained on cybersecurity basics is critical in preventing and addressing threats.

Having full participation from everyone creates buy-in across the company. It promotes a culture of safety and security. It also ensures that when employees are promoted or change roles, they have this basic training level necessary for their new position.


2. Open Communication

Some employees get discouraged when they are confused by their requirements. They also might be nervous about speaking out about a concern, fearing that they will be dubbed less “tech-savvy” compared to their peers. Although these concerns may seem silly, they are very real for some team members.

Encourage everyone to communicate about cybersecurity concerns, whether those concerns are about clarifying requirements or reporting suspicious activity. Keep employees updated on cybersecurity effort.

By imparting the value of cybersecurity to your whole team and emphasizing each person has a role to play, you empower employees to take action—strengthening your human firewall.


3. Make Training an Ongoing Process

While one-off training is helpful, having a full program of training is even more beneficial. Initial training can start at the onboarding process, but it should be updated from time to time. Periodic updates and related training allow a business owner to pass along new cybersecurity concerns and improve on methods to address those concerns. It also gives employees an opportunity to ask specific cybersecurity questions and clarify their role in addressing concerns.

Having more than one training or making cybersecurity a regular part of safety training will also make it clear to your team that cybersecurity is a critical part of their job. It is a serious matter that should be considered every time they touch a computer or sensitive information. Further, ongoing training creates a culture of safety that permeates into other areas of their work as well.


4. Incorporate Testing into Security Training

Trainings that have assessments or testing afterward often help information “stick” better compared to only sitting through a training. Quizzes after training not only encourage employee participation and attention but can also be a great way to determine if training is getting necessary information across. For instance, if several employees miss the same questions, you may want to reevaluate how it is presented or provide additional training on that specific topic.

Test runs or context training can be a good way to “issue spot.” For instance, training can consist of real-life phishing scams so employees can practice what they have learned while also receiving some practical information.

Phishing is a good area in which to practice this type of practical assessment because over 8 in 10 small businesses experienced a successful phishing scam in 2021. According to, a single phishing email costs about 28 minutes of IT time or about $31 per email.


5. Make Training Fun

Some of the best cybersecurity awareness training programs are interactive and fun. Cybersecurity is not necessarily the most glamorous topic, but it is very important. Incorporating some social aspects of the training or making a game out of finding potential cybersecurity concerns can help employees retain the information, and it can make the training a bit more tolerable for any team.

For example, you could give out a prize for those who spot all of the phishing scams in a stack of emails. You might also provide awards for anyone who reports potential threats. Top prizes for quizzes or assessment results might also be a fun way to encourage participation in those assessments. Announcing that an employee “protected the company” by reporting an issue can be a good way to recognize those who take the issue seriously, even long after initial training.


Security Training: Identifying Your Risk

Getting a security assessment now to identify concern areas can help you address them long before they become an issue. An assessment gives you insights into security gaps to address in team training. Understanding the risks yourself will go a long way to help others identify and avoid those concerns.

A professional risk assessment can be a great starting point for creating a tailored, in-house cybersecurity awareness training program. It provides a solid training foundation, allowing you to address current problems immediately & prepare your team for future threats.