How To: Make Security Awareness Training Effective

Security Awareness Training (SAT) is a growing requirement for many businesses across multiple industries and is one of the most effective ways to address your largest risk: employees. Educating your team to detect, avoid, and respond to potential security threats is pivotal to protecting your client data and information systems.

But simply completing a training program isn’t the end of the story. For SAT to truly work, it needs to be effective. Employees need to be able to follow their training and incorporate what they’ve learned into their everyday routines to ensure that best practices are being followed.

So, how do you do that? How do you make Security Awareness Training actually effective for your team? How do you know when it’s working or not?

We discussed this very topic in a webinar with Angela Adams, where Rhodian’s own Ryan Smith came up with the following list of top ways to make SAT more effective.

Stick with smaller bite-sized training

Let’s face it, attention spans are shrinking year over year. But more than that, overloading your team with important information that will help them protect sensitive data is not a good way to get that information to stick.

Instead, we recommend breaking up the training into smaller sessions focused on particular topics. This way, information is presented in a more digestible way, and questions can be asked to flesh out those particular topics piece-by-piece.

Do training BEFORE busy seasons

When we get busy, we’re more likely to be in a hurry and make a mistake, be distracted, or fall victim to other types of employee-based attacks. By getting training addressed ahead of these times, you ensure your staff will be sharp on the most recent types of attacks, what to watch for, and will have an extra reminder to be more diligent before things get out of control.

Consider launching your training before various business cycles or general periods where we’re busy as a society. Many attacks tend to happen ahead of 3-day weekends, before holidays, or other times where we’re all off in our own world.

Speaking of attention spans, when we’re busy with important projects, any new information will inherently get put on the mental backburner. When your team’s inboxes are overflowing with requests and to-do lists, their primary goal with training will be to get it over with as soon as possible to return to their work instead of focusing on crucial details.

If you know that certain times of the year are going to be busier than others, carve out time well before those dates to make sure you have your team’s full attention for training.

Explain the WHY

“Because” wasn’t a satisfying answer when we were children, and it’s not gotten any better as adults. If you want your coworkers to follow security procedures that might be less convenient than their usual operations, you need to tell them WHY they’re doing it. Tell them how poor security can lead to a serious breach, which in turn can create serious consequences for your clients and damage your company’s reputation, not to say anything of regulatory fines and potential closures.

When they understand how easy it is to compromise passwords, and how an account with no MFA can be accessed at that point, it will help them understand why they are having to jump through extra steps when they log in – it’s harder for employees but it’s much more difficult for hackers when you use these kinds of practices.

This explanation will connect the dots in their head of why this small inconvenience is a necessary part of protecting your clients and your company.

Bring it home

When you teach your staff how to be secure at home, and encourage them to do so, you teach them the foundations that will also help protect your office.

Make sure your staff understands things they can do to protect their identity, how to lock up social media and financial accounts, protect minors, and secure their home office networks and devices.

If it hits home, it’s more likely for us to adopt new behaviors and practices that will stick with us when we show up at the office. As you pursue cybersecurity education and training with your team, think about ways to make the training personal to them and their lives outside of the office.


Knowing is only half the battle with cybersecurity– now you need to test your team to make sure their lessons are sticking!

One of the most popular and effective ways to see if training is working is phishing email simulations. These simulations involve sending emails that mimic real-life phishing attacks, wherein recipients are tempted to click on links to scrape their personal and company information.

The results from this simulation can be invaluable. Are your users clicking links they shouldn’t be? Are they giving up credentials? Do you have repeat offenders? The answers to these questions and others can tell you what areas your team still struggles with, where they need extra training, or if other styles of training are needed. You’re better off finding your weakest links through testing versus finding out with the real deal!

What now?

First, we highly recommend checking out our full webinar with Angela Adams, where we go into depth with this topic and other related cybersecurity issues for independent agencies.

Second, we recommend finding a trusted cybersecurity vendor to help you start working on your Security Awareness Training plan if you haven’t already. To help with this process, we’ve created a handy Cybersecurity Vendor Guide and Checklist to help you find the right match.

Lastly, reach out to us for a free Cybersecurity and IT Consultation using the contact form below. We’ll help you determine where you’re at now with cybersecurity and the best course of action to get to where you need to be. Feel free to ask us about our Security Awareness Training service. We can also answer any other questions you may have!

Rhodian is here to help!

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Our experience with hundreds of businesses across diverse industries provides us with the expertise to understand your unique challenges.

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Our experience with hundreds of businesses across diverse industries provides us with the expertise to understand your unique challenges.