Think cybersecurity training is just a snore fest of jargon and compliance checkboxes? Think again. Welcome to the new era of Cybersecurity training, where ‘boring’ is a forbidden word and engagement is the name of the game.
This guide is all about flipping the script—from just ticking off ‘compliance’ boxes to actually being ‘competent,’ and we’re doing it with training techniques that are as engaging as they are effective.
01 Use Interactive Scenarios
Interactive scenarios are not just about ‘what you should do,’ but also about ‘what happens when you do it.’ They make training interactive, teaching employees the consequences of their actions in a simulated but realistic environment. For example, a scenario could walk employees through a ransomware attack, providing them choices at each step.
- Develop a branching video: Create scenarios where users must decide whether to open a suspicious email, click a link, or download an attachment. Depending on the choice, the scenario can unfold in various ways, providing immediate feedback.
- Instant feedback: Once the scenario is complete, present a detailed breakdown explaining the potential consequences of each choice made, such as a data breach or financial loss for the company.
02 Utilize Gamification Techniques
Adding gamification elements like badges, points, and leaderboards can transform an otherwise mundane training program into an interactive experience. Studies have shown that a competitive environment enhances learning and retention. For example, Deloitte University saw a 46.6% increase in daily users after implementing gamification in their training programs. – source
For Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we at RiskOptics are leveling up our training program by hosting a competitive trivia game. It’s not just fun; it’s an effective way to reinforce best practices and cybersecurity awareness among our team.
- Incorporate periodic quizzes: Incorporate questions throughout the training module and offer instant rewards for correct answers, such as digital badges or certificates.
- Showcase a leaderboard: Gamify the training program by showing who has scored the highest on quizzes or completed modules the quickest.
03 Incorporate Microlearning Modules
Given the busy schedules and short attention spans in today’s workplace, long training sessions often lose efficacy. Microlearning addresses this by providing bite-sized, focused content that can be easily consumed and applied.
- Break down complex topics: Transform 45-minute sessions into a series of 5-10 minute modules, each focusing on a specific aspect of the topic.
- Implement “just-in-time” training: Send out microlearning modules in response to emerging cyber threats or regulation changes, so that employees can quickly adapt to new scenarios.
04 Facilitate Peer-to-Peer Learning
Learning isn’t just top-down; it often happens horizontally. Peer-to-peer learning is a powerful tool for organizational knowledge-sharing, and can be as simple as a weekly team huddle where everyone shares a cybersecurity tip they learned that week.
- Train the trainer: Identify ‘knowledge champions’ within departments who are trained first. They can then disseminate the information, tailoring it to the specific needs and vernacular of their team.
- Use internal social networks: Leverage platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams for sharing tips, articles, and best practices related to cybersecurity, creating an environment of continuous learning.
- Cybersecurity Newsletter: Craft an internal cybersecurity newsletter, with a twist! Spread new information and best practices featuring comic strips, memes, and interesting stories for colleagues. Delivering the information in a fun or goofy manner through a colleague may help make the concepts more memorable.
05 Host Cybersecurity Challenges
How about hosting regular Cybersecurity Challenges? These internal challenges can range from phishing awareness quizzes to complex ethical hacking tasks for those who are more advanced. Not only do they foster a culture of constant learning, but they also make for a more interactive and engaging experience.
- Internal Hackathon: For your engineering teams, consider hosting an internal hackathon focused on identifying vulnerabilities within your own software or system. This practical experience provides engineers an opportunity to understand how vulnerabilities can be exploited, leading to more informed decisions for future security enhancements.
- Phishing Simulation: Conduct a company-wide phishing awareness simulation. Use fake emails to try and trick employees into giving away login details. After the simulation, provide a breakdown of common mistakes and tips for recognizing phishing attempts. This can be a real eye-opener and reinforces the importance of cybersecurity vigilance.
06 Obtain Executive Buy-In
Training programs will be far more successful when they have the backing of the organization’s leadership. A top-down focus on training emphasizes its importance to the entire organization. A classic example would be Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, advocating for a ‘learn-it-all’ culture, which set the tone for the entire organization. – source
- Include video testimonials from C-suite executives emphasizing the importance of cybersecurity.
- Offer “executive summaries” of the training modules that can be consumed by higher-ups in under 5 minutes, to ensure they understand what’s being taught at all levels.
Changing the narrative around cybersecurity training from ‘necessary evil’ to ‘exciting learning experience’ isn’t pie-in-the-sky thinking; it’s totally doable. From interactive scenarios and gamification to microlearning and peer-to-peer exchanges, the options are endless. So, let’s toss the ‘boring’ label in the trash, and make cybersecurity training a highlight, not a hassle.