5 Best Practices for Training Your Staff on Cybersecurity Awareness

By Guest Author | cybersecurity | February 2, 2022

Cybersecurity has become an essential part of running any business. With cybercrime rising and businesses relying more on digital data, every company needs to take security seriously. One of the most important measures in that effort is to train your staff.


Studies show that 85% of all data breaches involve a human element, and many of these are unintentional. It only takes one weak password or one click on a malicious link to let a cybercriminal slip past your technical defenses. If you hope to stay safe, you’ll have to ensure your employees know security best practices.

Here are five things to consider when training your staff on cybersecurity awareness.

Emphasizing Cybersecurity’s Importance

The first step is to help your workers understand why this is such a pressing issue. If they think it’s trivial or blown out of proportion, they won’t likely follow the practices you suggest. Point to hard data from relevant cases that show how damaging cyberattacks can be and how easily they can occur.

It may help to emphasize personal losses that could stem from a data breach. Statistics about how much cybercrime may cost the company may not motivate employees, but they’ll likely care about how it may affect them. Figures like the fact that the average victim loses $4,476 per crime may be more engaging than those about business losses. They may also empathize knowing that data loss overwhelmingly affects the customers they care about as well as themselves — particularly in industries such as retail, which accounted for nearly a quarter of cyber attacks in 2020.

Being Specific About Best Practices

When you begin outlining recommended actions, be as specific as possible. If employees don’t know how to achieve the goals you present, they may not do anything at all. Giving them specific direction helps avoid inaction from confusion and takes the burden off of the worker for discovering which practices are best.

For example, saying to use strong passwords and change them often leaves a lot up for interpretation. Instead, remind them to use at least eight characters, mixed cases, symbols, and numbers, and to change them every three months. That way, there’s no confusion around what “strong” means or how often is often enough to change passwords.

Avoiding Technical Jargon

Along similar lines, staff will understand your direction better if you avoid being overly technical. Cybersecurity involves many unique terms like phishing, distributed denial of service (DDoS), credential stuffing, and more. If you’re not in a tech business, your employees may not be familiar with this jargon, so using it could alienate or confuse them.

Describe cybercrime types and recommended actions instead of relying on their industry terms. It’s okay to introduce workers to these words and phrases to streamline future communication, but be sure to define them on an easy-to-understand level. If your explanations are too technical, you likely won’t get your point across.

Making It an Ongoing Conversation

Cybersecurity is a continually evolving field, so staff cybersecurity training should likewise be an ongoing conversation. At least 66 attacks in 2021 were zero-day exploits, meaning they used a previously unknown vulnerability. New cybercrime methods and security measures to stop them emerge all the time, so regular training is necessary to ensure ongoing safety.

Training sessions should be at least an annual occurrence. Re-cover the basics like password management and spotting phishing attempts to ensure employees remember them, then explain any newly adopted practices. Make sure these sessions are a two-sided conversation, too. Ask if anyone has questions, then set up a way for them to seek cybersecurity advice whenever they need it.

Leading by Example

Finally, remember to lead by example. No matter what other steps you follow, your training won’t be effective if employees see management disregarding it. If the people at the top don’t follow cybersecurity best practices, why should people with less access and sensitive data do so?

In contrast, if you follow all of the practices you recommend in training, it may inspire others to do the same. Companies today must create a workplace culture of cybersecurity, and defining your culture starts at the top. The more careful you are about cybersecurity, the more you’ll encourage others to be.

Keep Your Staff and Company Safe

Cybersecurity training will help protect your company data as well as your employees. These five best practices can help you create the most effective security awareness training program, ensuring cybersecurity is a company-wide effort.

Since cybercrime is so dynamic, no cybersecurity policy will ever be perfect. However, if you follow these steps and create a cohesive group effort for better security, you can stay safe from many threats.