Security Awareness Program

How to Measure the Success of Your Security Awareness Program

In Security by Alex PattersonLeave a Comment

Security Awareness Program

In order to justify spending thousands of company dollars on a security awareness training program, you need to measure its success. To do that, you must move beyond simple training and jump into the world of metrics and testing.

Basic Training Isn’t Enough for Security Awareness Program Effectiveness

CSO said it best, “Training in and of itself is not enough. A successful awareness program will have training in conjunction with the testing.” Most security awareness programs combine periodic instruction with quizzes or one ‘exam’ to measure the knowledge employees gain and retain. Most organizations measure success by the pass/fail rate of these tests. However, this stagnant training doesn’t create new awareness of ever-growing threats.

According to CSO, “Completing a mandatory course of varying time and quality does not do much to actually demonstrate whether or not the students understand the materials, and more importantly, put the training into practice by changing their behaviors. It does however account for compliance requirements, which generally say that an organization must provide awareness training, without regards to effectiveness or results.”

It’s impossible to measure the success of your program based on a simple, periodic training session and quiz alone. After all, the realm of cybersecurity changes rapidly, with new threats surfacing often. There are better methods of measuring your success, starting with the use of the right metrics.

It’s All in the Metrics

To truly gauge the success of your program, you must move beyond focusing on the percentage of employees who are able to pass a simple security test each year. Instead, you need metrics that show how the knowledge gained from training is leveraged every day within your organization. First, consider what components are involved in your security awareness program. Examples may include:

  • Periodic educational email newsletters about cybersecurity
  • Posters and print material throughout the workplace
  • Quarterly security awareness events or meetings

How many of your employees are engaging with these offerings? These are the metrics that demonstrate the worth of your security awareness program. For example, you can use data analytics to show how many employees are opening the security awareness email. Or, track attendance for security awareness meetings to show a percentage of employees involved.

According to CSO, “These metrics indicate where your successes or failures are. Time and money can therefore be adjusted accordingly.”

Other Success Measuring Methods

Along with collecting metrics to help measure your success, there are other methods you can employ as well. For example, social engineering exercises are a great way to test your employees’ reactions to different cybersecurity attack methods. As they react, you can collect metrics to show areas that need improvement.

Awareness surveys are another measure that can be invaluable to your efforts. Differing from the typical basic test, these surveys are updated with current threats, keeping your employees up to date on changes in the cybersecurity realm. After answering questions involving the latest dangers, you can gauge your employees’ success rates for insights on where to improve.

Proving the Value of a Successful Security Awareness Program

In summary, no matter what your security awareness program costs, if successful, you’ll save more in reduced security threats. Once you begin to record metrics, you will see the areas in which your program is working and provide proof of the value of your program. For more information on comprehensive security awareness training review Inspired eLearning’s Security First Solutions.

The original version of this article was first published on Insipred eLearning.

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