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5 Myths About Security Awareness Training

Larkin Anders

The need for security awareness training

Cybercrime is growing at an alarming rate. 90% of healthcare organizations (the number one target for hackers) have suffered security breaches over the last three years. There are drastic economic implications. The average cost of a data breach in 2020 was almost $4 million. 

Companies are aware of these terrifying statistics and a key element of their cyber defense strategy is security awareness training for their workforce. Security awareness training is the process of educating the workforce about security best practices. 

Elements of a good security awareness training program

A good security awareness training program should: 

  • change people’s attitude towards security and heighten their security awareness
  • inculcate good security hygiene by teaching people about the required tools and skills
  • be tailored for people depending on their role in the organization
  • reduce support effort by making employees more responsible and aware

However, training is often not effective because of various myths and misconceptions. So we've outlined some of the top misconceptions when it comes to security awareness training:

Myth 1: Compliance is the only measure of security awareness training

Security awareness training programs, in some companies, are checklist and compliance-driven. The overarching goal is to conduct a training program and make sure that everyone attends it. 

Although compliance training may be a reasonable starting point, it shouldn't be the final aim. 

A security awareness training program should be in place to educate your employees on how to spot and avoid cyber attacks. This can only be confirmed by measurement. These metrics should be collected before and after the training in order to see how well your training program is working.

One good metric is the volume of user-reported security incident data. After attending the program, do more employees report suspicious emails? Do they bring more security concerns (strangers hanging around the office, for instance) to the attention of the security staff? 

Another handy measure of training effectiveness is employee feedback. Did they like the training, or find it unhelpful? Employees may also have ideas on what content to include in future sessions.

Myth 2: Security awareness programs are useful only for low-level employees 

In many companies, security awareness training is restricted to junior employees and others who are hands-on with technology. These are usually programmers, IT, and operations folks. There is a feeling that senior employees and non-technical people, like Sales, Marketing, and HR, do not need to be concerned about security or even attend security awareness training.

This assumption can be quite dangerous. Everyone, from the CEO to interns, must attend security awareness training in order to reduce the risk of data breaches and attacks. Senior executives are privy to sensitive information that makes them attractive targets for hackers. Junior employees have access to the nuts and bolts of the systems on which the business runs. Hence, why security awareness training is beneficial to everyone within your organization.

Training content should cover all aspects of cyber security no matter the roles and responsibilities of employees. Anyone can fall victim to a cyber attack. Therefore all employees should be trained on the risks and precautions when it comes to cyber incidents.

Involving employees of all ranks and departments in the training program creates a healthy, equitable security culture. It also makes the company more secure at all levels.


Myth 3: All Security Awareness programs have the same content 

Not all security awareness training is created equal! While some are created for those looking to check a box, there are ones designed specifically to change employee behavior and encourage a healthy security culture. These behavior-focused security programs often incorporate skits, quizzes, and talks in order to mix things up and keep employees interested. Your training should not just be a Powerpoint on phishing attacks, social engineering, or password hiding. The training material should be appropriate and engaging on all levels. The awareness training program should be interesting, relatable, and compelling.

Although security awareness training is about teaching employees tactics and techniques, it all comes down to modifying behavior. #PsySec

Myth 4: Employees already understand their role in keeping the Company secure

While there are some who understand the importance of security awareness training, not all are properly educated on the cost and disastrous effects poor security may have on their organization. A good security awareness training program needs to be in place in order educated employees, reduce user risk, and align employees with the organization’s security goals. 

Organizations should emphasize the link between the individual employee’s actions and the company’s well-being. They should explain the importance of security practices to the organization’s bottom line. The training should instill in the employees a sense of personal responsibility for security.

For example, careless comments made in a bar might result in the loss of a multi-million-dollar contract. The theft of a laptop containing proprietary source code could blunt the company’s tech edge. Employees should be mindful that their poor security practices might affect the company’s financial and business reputation. 

Employees should also be cognizant that good security practices don’t end when they head out of the office door. Employees, and their families, should be made aware of the security precautions to be taken when using company-provided laptops and smartphones.

Myth 5: You have created and rolled out the Security awareness training so now you are done

No, this is only the start. Security awareness training should not be a one-off activity. It should be a continuous process.

Companies are unlikely to get their training “right” at the beginning. They should continuously work to improve how they release and respond to training incidents and reports.

It's also important for programs to reflect the latest developments in the field. For instance, any recent cyber-attacks or breaches should be covered. Hackers are getting smarter by the day and security awareness content should reflect this change. With cyber criminals' tactics and techniques evolving every day, it's important to provide employees training solutions that are up to date with what tactics cyber criminals are using. There should be a discussion on why these incidents happened and how to prevent them.

Organizations should think beyond canned once-and-done presentations. Instead, they should focus on finding a program that keeps their content relevant with security news and updates.

The latest metrics collected on security incidents inside the company should also be reviewed, addressed, and disseminated. 

Companies should not have an NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome when it comes to security. Key personnel should attend security seminars and participate in all awareness training.


Many security awareness programs fail for the reasons given above. But you can prevent this from happening. By addressing the misconceptions listed here, you will succeed in rolling out a security awareness program that is an inexpensive and effective counter-measure against attacks.

With Hook Security, you can easily launch, measure, and automate your security awareness training program and create an effective training program that works.

Click here to get a free preview of our training and kick-start your security awareness training program!

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