According to one report, 82% of data breaches involved the human element, from social attacks to misuse of technologies. These errors are not always entirely preventable, as some level of human error is inevitable, but proper training in cybersecurity awareness can greatly decrease the likelihood of human mistakes leading to data breaches. Due to the increasing use of digital tools for business operations and reliance on employee conduct to ensure security, new solutions are required.
While cybersecurity awareness training can take many forms, most training programs are computer-based. It is important when developing and implementing these programs to be aware of what methods of education work best. This training must reach users who may not have any background or knowledge in cybersecurity, and it must be effective enough to ensure that security is “not only top of mind, but a fluent language.”
In service of that end, gamification is a highly effective tactic. There are many benefits to gamifying your approach to cybersecurity awareness training, all of which contribute to the goal of educating employees and decreasing risk. Gamification incentivizes and motivates employees to be more engaged, participate more actively, retain information, and implement behavioral changes moving forward.
Below are five tips to gamify your cybersecurity awareness training program.
1. Visual Aids
One of the most basic elements of gamification is the use of visual aids. Visual aids such as graphs, charts, pictures, or videos are a quick and efficient way to convey information that might be harder to understand in text format. Statistics and numerical data are easily transferable into a visual format, and other information can also be translated into this context. These visual aids can help to keep employees engaged with the content by breaking up what could otherwise be a monotonous block of text. They are also often more easily remembered.
Offering rewards for completion or performance is an incredible motivator. Whether the rewards are simply in-game points or real-life prizes like gift cards, the possibility of receiving something back for their hard work is a good incentive for employees to not only do the training, but pay attention and perform well. While there have previously been policies in place to administer consequences to employees who do not adhere to security measures, the implementation of positive repercussions is just as important in ensuring maximum retention and compliance.
Multiple results can be achieved with one simple tool in the form of quizzes. Quizzing employees on their training necessitates them paying attention to the training and retaining information that is vital for cybersecurity. It also presents them with a situation where their performance determines their score, and performing well on a quiz might earn them a reward. If quizzes are leveraged for healthy competition, employees can be even more motivated to do well.
There are many different ways to deploy simulations in cybersecurity awareness training. Putting employees in a situation that mirrors a real-life attack, whether it be phishing emails or data breaches, gives them an opportunity to practice how they would respond should the real thing occur. This is similar to the idea behind fire drills: it is one thing to be told how to respond in case of an unfortunate event, and another thing entirely to actually go through the process of responding to it. Additionally, simulated security events are helpful for impressing upon employees that their training is not merely theoretical and that they will be expected to know what to do in a real-life attack.
5. Team Exercises
Adding social elements to your cybersecurity awareness training is a good practice because it allows employees to work together just as they would have to in the event of an attack. Employees who feel isolated during their training may not trust their colleagues to be reliable in this area, whereas employees who have worked together in training are more likely to be able to work together in practice. Cooperation is key, not just for security breaches, but for all aspects of a business. Employees who understand their role in a team and know how to work together to solve problems are not just better prepared in terms of cybersecurity awareness, but also better prepared to carry out their normal operations.
The digital landscape is constantly changing, and cyber threats are evolving as well. This, combined with the human tendency to forget information or push it to the back of our minds after a while, means that ongoing training is vital. Refreshing information that employees have previously learned and providing new information that has emerged in the intervening time will help employees to understand that their cybersecurity awareness training is always relevant and present, rather than a distant concern. Depending on the frequency of training and the methods used, this can also allow you to track employees’ progress over time and potentially bestow rewards for consistently good performance or improvement.
As with many things in life, cybersecurity awareness training is often considered a necessary evil. While it is necessary, it does not have to be an evil at all. Gamification is a highly effective tactic to make sure that employees understand and internalize important information, and possibly even look forward to their training sessions. By leveraging simple concepts of rewards, teamwork, simulations, quizzes, and visual aids, you can give your employees an experience that is more engaging, more entertaining, and more effective than traditional methods.
About the Author: PJ Bradley is a writer on a wide variety of topics, passionate about learning and helping people above all else. Holding a bachelor’s degree from Oakland University, PJ enjoys using a lifelong desire to understand how things work to write about subjects that inspire interest. Most of PJ’s free time is spent reading and writing. PJ is also regular writer at Bora.
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(SecurityAffairs – hacking, cyberSecurity)