Employee Security Awareness Training Why It’s Important

Employee Security Awareness Training: Why It’s Important

Employee security awareness is paramount when protecting your company from security threats since staying secure goes beyond having a good IT department.

What is employee security awareness? Employee security awareness is training your employees to recognize potential security threats for an organization’s physical and digital assets. Security is not one single department’s responsibility but rather every employee of an organization’s responsibility.

Why Is Security Awareness Training Important?

When managing an organization of people, those people are typically the weakest link in your cybersecurity chain. This isn’t an accusatory statement: While inattention to cybersecurity practices is common, the complex security and compliance tasks are often hard to follow for employees attempting to integrate them into their workflows.

And business leaders cannot ignore this issue. Consider the following statistics:

These types of attacks are all intimately linked to user behavior and knowledge—the exact place where awareness of proper security practices could mitigate breaches. Employees might understand the basics of privacy and security, but do they put them into practice? Furthermore, do they understand the specific requirements needed by your organization to meet compliance requirements?

Security awareness training is important because it meets employees where they are (their daily workflows) to provide critical information about how to avoid security risks and why performing specific security-related tasks is critical for their organization’s success.

Information security awareness and training isn’t a task, it is an investment. According to IBM, security breaches in 2021 cost an average of $4.24M—up nearly 110% from the previous year.

Employee Security Awareness Tactics That Work

Employee security awareness tactics involve educating and engaging employees to better understand their role in protecting the organization’s data and resources. Tactics may include training employees to spot and report suspicious activity, handle confidential information, identify phishing emails/malware, use strong passwords, and navigate the internet safely. In addition, organizations should regularly conduct security awareness testing to evaluate how well employees recognize threats and how they respond in various simulated situations.

Businesses benefit from using employee security awareness tactics because it helps educate and prepare employees to recognize and mitigate malicious threats. Employees who receive comprehensive, periodic training have a higher likelihood of detecting potential cyberattacks and subsequently preventing their networks from becoming compromised. Additionally, employee security awareness can help build trust and confidence within the organization.

Without an educated and trained workforce, organizations may experience data breaches, security incidents, and other cyberattacks that can result in significant financial penalties and liability. Furthermore, these events can damage the organization’s reputation and lead to a loss of customer trust. In short, having a solid employee security awareness program is critical for any business’s overall security posture and continued success.

What Topics Should My Security Awareness Efforts Focus On?

While security threats are far ranging, there are several overarching categories under which attacks tend to occur. Your employees must understand the angles that attackers can take, from everyday emails to malware where users least expect it.

Some of the topics that an awareness program should focus on include the following:

  • Phishing Attacks (Spear and Whaling) and Social Engineering: Phishing is a hacking practice to fool employees into turning over private data and system access credentials. Generally, phishing comes in emails modified to appear as if they came from people in the organization. More focused forms of phishing use information related to high-level executives to fool these executives into turning over their own credentials. Employees must identify false messaging and understand how to report them to IT and security professionals in your organization. These skills should be trained for everyone in the organizational hierarchy, from temporary employees up to C-level executives.
  • Passwords, Authentication, and Access: One of the weakest points of an IT system is the identity and authentication management system, predominantly because many users will forego best practices. Training here should include creating and managing strong passwords, properly managing and securing passwords, and how to use different passwords for each account.
  • Physical Device Protection: With more employees using mobile devices and laptops, device security is critical. Training here means providing best practices for ensuring device security, including never leaving devices out in public, using secure Wi-Fi networks, and not sharing information between secure and unsecured devices.
  • Mobile Device Access and Protection: Additionally, mobile devices for work purposes are also increasingly common. Employees need testing and practice on what is appropriate to do and not do on work devices to avoid malware and traffic hijacking and how to identify malicious apps (if installing apps hasn’t been blocked by administrators).
  • Social Media and Email Engagement: Social media can be a treasure trove of information for hackers to access and use as part of social engineering attacks. And most employees give it away freely on their accounts. Knowledge of proper social media use would include vetting information before sharing and understanding what information should be left inside corporate walls.
  • Remote Work Tools and Practices: Remote work is more common, and interactions with personal and professional apps and services can threaten the security of a professional network. Employees should have information and other resources on how to manage their devices and connect to business networks.

Some of these topics will be more relevant than others (remote work, social media engagement, etc.). Others, like password management and social engineering, are important for everyone in your organization.

How Can I Get My Start in Cybersecurity Awareness Training?

The best way to get started with cybersecurity awareness training is to look for a certification program or training course provided by a reputable organization. Many different certification programs and practices offer training in cybersecurity awareness, so take some time to research and find the one that best meets your needs. Many organizations offer free resources and tutorials to help you get started. Finally, attending security conferences and events can help you broaden your knowledge and connect with professionals in the field.

Employees benefit from using cybersecurity awareness training in several ways. Training helps them become more familiar with the latest security threats and how to protect themselves and their organizations. It also encourages them to adopt safe behaviors when accessing or storing data. Finally, training increases employees’ confidence in their ability to keep their data secure.

How Can My Organization Implement Security Awareness Training?

Security awareness isn’t just about posters on a wall and some documents provided to employees during onboarding that they (may) read once before forgetting. It calls for regular, up-to-date training.

Some ways to approach your security awareness training include the following:

  • Assessing Current Training Standards: You must know where your awareness training efforts are at. It may be the case that preparedness in your organization is simply a bank of PDFs in an employee dashboard. This is a substandard approach, but it gives you a place to start thinking about what needs to be addressed.
  • Establishing Awareness Plans and Policies: When actually planning training materials and policies, you can draw from two significant places: the assessments that you’ve already conducted and any compliance standards you must meet. This can seem counterproductive if you don’t have to meet compliance standards, but consider the cost. If your organization works in an industry with clear information privacy and protection standards, those standards will most likely include training and requirements. If you aren’t following a compliance framework, then ask yourself, why not? Even following a framework like SOC 2 or ISO 27001 can provide a path toward developing best practices for training.
  • Create Training Materials, Courses, and Requirements Around Clear Goals: Put into place curricula, courses, and continuing requirements that meet both compliance needs and the demands of your business. If working in a rapidly transforming industry, then training and security awareness should be equally responsive to change with regular updates and education. Likewise, industries with technical security requirements should have training, documentation, and internal experts on hand to address security awareness for all implemented systems.
  • Staff Experts for Training: Training isn’t just a book exercise. Your organization should have dedicated managers and trainers in place to support awareness. Large companies might have entire teams tasked with managing awareness and documentation, but even smaller businesses can have people in place who know the infrastructure, who know compliance requirements, and who can either implement training or work with third-party vendors to provide it.

Email Security Training for Employees

Email security training for employees should include best practices for identifying and avoiding malicious emails, such as phishing attempts. Training should cover a few bases. First, training should include how employees can properly configure email security settings in their email programs and explain the risks associated with clicking on links in emails or opening attachments. Second, the training should provide instructions on how and when to contact their IT department for further assistance if suspicious emails are received or spam filters fail. Finally, training should include keeping email accounts secure by setting complex passwords and changing them regularly.

Businesses benefit from email security training for employees because it helps protect their systems from malicious attacks and attackers. Email security training enables employees to recognize potential threats and understand the risks associated with clicking on malicious links or opening suspicious attachments. Not only does this help to protect the company’s data, but it also helps to protect the employees’ private information, financial accounts, and other sensitive data they store on connected devices and systems. Email security training also increases employee awareness and their understanding of the risks associated with using email. This awareness also helps reduce the time the IT department has to spend responding to security issues.

Without email security training, employees may be more likely to fall victim to phishing scams and, as a result, may inadvertently leak sensitive corporate or personal data. This could lead to financial losses if attackers can use the information to access bank accounts or other financial resources. It could also lead to legal repercussions if the compromised data belongs to customers or third parties. Finally, not providing email security training may also harm the company’s reputation if word of a security breach makes it to the public.

Developing Awareness and Training for Secure Business Operations

Secure business infrastructure isn’t a luxury anymore. Not only are enterprises and small to midsize businesses facing rising cybersecurity threats, but the interactions between private businesses and public agencies create even more avenues through which malicious actors can destabilize U.S. interests. The cornerstone of protecting such infrastructure is security awareness training.

Security Awareness Training User Satisfaction

The focus of security awareness training user satisfaction is in the user’s opinion of the program and overall experience.

Companies can evaluate their security awareness training effectiveness with user satisfaction surveys. User satisfaction surveys can provide valuable feedback about the program’s content, setup, and delivery, as well as how likely users are to recommend the training to others. Companies can use this feedback to customize and improve the program, thus resulting in better user satisfaction. Survey questions should focus on topics such as the quality and helpfulness of the training content, how useful they found the training, overall satisfaction with the experience, and how likely they are to recommend the program to others.

After the survey, impressions, comments, and feedback can be collected and analyzed to identify areas for improvement. Organizations should also look for ways to solicit feedback into their training platform so that users can provide feedback during and after their training to ensure that their experience is positive and the training is effective.

Businesses benefit from using security awareness training and user satisfaction because it can improve the company’s security. Understanding users’ feelings about the training program can provide helpful insights for proactive improvement and revision. It also adds transparency to the security efforts of the business and allows the organization to protect its assets proactively. Additionally, when users are satisfied with the program, they are more likely to adhere to security policies and procedures, thus reducing risk and protecting the organization’s data. Finally, user satisfaction can provide a competitive edge by encouraging customer loyalty and trust.

Additional Resources

Get started.

It’s easy to start ensuring regulatory compliance and effectively managing risk with Kiteworks. Join the thousands of organizations who feel confident in their content communications platform today. Select an option below.


Avec Kiteworks, se mettre en conformité règlementaire et bien gérer les risques devient un jeu d’enfant. Rejoignez dès maintenant les milliers de professionnels qui ont confiance en leur plateforme de communication de contenu. Cliquez sur une des options ci-dessous.

Jetzt loslegen.

Mit Kiteworks ist es einfach, die Einhaltung von Vorschriften zu gewährleisten und Risiken effektiv zu managen. Schließen Sie sich den Tausenden von Unternehmen an, die sich schon heute auf ihre Content-Kommunikationsplattform verlassen können. Wählen Sie unten eine Option.

Get A Demo