Imagine a knight sent into the battlefield, clad with the finest armor, steed, shield and sword, but with one problem – they don’t know how to hold a shield, direct a horse, swing their sword, or what their enemy looks like. This soldier, despite having the kingdom’s best tools at their disposal, is at a grave disadvantage without the proper knowledge and practice in how to apply them. Similarly, in the world of cybersecurity, even the most advanced defenses will fall short without well-trained individuals behind them.

The solution to this problem is relatively straightforward – users need to be trained, and this is typically done on a regular, ideally annual (at minimum!) basis. People hear of these annual security trainings often and some come to think of it as just some ritual, but that’s anything but the reality; keep in mind that often times, this annual training is the most hands-on education standard users ever get on security, and is almost always the most digestible and thus most effective.

Results speak for themselves that these training sessions are effective, but some questions we often see revolve around what should this training encompass, and how can it be tailored to meet the unique threats and challenges of the present day versus yesteryear. In this post we’ll discuss what types of content you should consider including to get the most out of your training, and thus, your staff.

Evergreen Content

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a newcomer to the world of cybersecurity, there are certain principles that never lose relevance. These foundational topics form the bedrock of an effective training program, earning their slots year-by-year by way of their sheer importance in effective day-to-day security. By revisiting these concepts annually, long-standing team members reinforce and keep up-to-date their understanding, while newcomers to the company get exposure on these vital topics. Topics that typically fall into this evergreen category can vary depending on your company and what’s most important to it, but will generally include:

  • Phishing Awareness – Recognizing deceptive emails and messages.
  • Incident Response Procedures – Steps to take when a security incident occurs.
  • Password Management – Using strong, unique passwords and proper storage.
  • Secure Browsing Habits – Safe web navigation and avoiding risks.
  • Data Protection Principles – Safeguarding sensitive and confidential information.
  • Social Engineering Awareness – Thwarting manipulation attempts for information.

Emerging Topics

While the evergreen content sets a strong foundation for training, we can’t forget ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity topics and threats. Novel technologies and threats are constantly emerging, and our training must keep pace by addressing them in the year they pop up in relevance. For example, this year has seen a surge in AI usage, introducing both an increase in AI-generated cyber attacks as well as user utilization of generative AI, which demands attention in training as to how to recognize/respond to cyber attacks and how to safely handle data and output from AI products. Staying alert to these industry-wide changes ensures that your team is not only grounded in fundamental principles but also up-to-date with the external cyber world.

In addition to the broader industry perspective, internal changes within the company often can require their own focus. Introducing new policies or tools, such as a data classification scheme, necessitates training for users in how to effectively parse and utilize them. These additions help your team more adroitly adapt to company-specific changes, ensuring a smooth transition and alignment with the unique culture and requirements of your organization. By balancing these two aspects, you forge a comprehensive training program, poised to face both universal cyber threats and the shifting nuances of your internal environment.

Form Factor

Laying out the content for a cybersecurity training program is just half the battle; delivering it in a manner that resonates with the audience is equally vital. Whether it’s through live sessions, offering a personal touch and real-time interaction, or learning modules that provide flexibility for asynchronous environments, the form factor must align with the needs and preferences of your staff. Quizzes and assessments are often suggested to be coupled with these methods to verify that users not only understand but can apply the content effectively. Often it also helps to have either a Q&A section of a live talk or forum in an online course, where users can get clarification on anything they might have missed or were confused by in training. Ultimately the ideal form factor varies depending on the company’s specific needs and culture, but a thoughtful blend of these methods creates an effective and engaging training experience, which goes a long way in ensuring that users are digesting and capable of implementing the topics covered.

Training in cybersecurity isn’t just about arming your team with the right tools; it’s about teaching them how to use those tools effectively. Like a knight sent into battle, the shield and sword are only as strong as the one who wields them. Through a well-rounded and adaptable training program, you equip your team with the skills to navigate both timeless principles and emerging threats. Build the knights of your cybersecurity realm; prepare them not just for today’s battle, but for the ever-changing landscape of tomorrow.

Looking to sharpen your team’s skills with annual user training? Let us guide you in creating an engaging training program that fits your businesses unique posture and needs. Contact us now for a free consultation and to learn more about our services.