How to Measure the Effectiveness of Cybersecurity Awareness

How To Measure The Effectiveness Of Cybersecurity Awareness
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As businesses globally continue to increase spending on cybersecurity products and services, many are beginning to question the effectiveness of their security awareness programs. And while these campaigns do help minimize attacks to some extent, cases of sophisticated data breaches are constantly rising.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, it’s estimated that cyber-attacks will cost businesses worldwide an average of $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from around $3 trillion in 2015. Part of what will cause a rise in frequency and impact of cybercrime is human errors.

How to Measure the Effectiveness of Cybersecurity Awareness

Investing in cybersecurity awareness programs is one way of minimizing human errors and keeping the workforce ready to mitigate any attacks. However, for the last couple of years, most organizations have been trying hard to prove that security awareness programs are helping reduce organizational risks.

In most cases, these programs are limited to training sessions, conducting employee surveys, and reporting on training attendance and participation. The truth is that these metrics aren’t enough to prepare employees to face the current state of affairs, leave alone what’s in front of them.

For many, cybersecurity is a priority, and sticking to a strategy that doesn’t work isn’t an option. That is why CISOs of forward-looking companies are rethinking their approach to cybersecurity awareness training. Here’s how you can think differently and prepare your organization to appreciate its investments in cybersecurity awareness programs.

Have a Strategy in Place

Before measuring the effectiveness of cybersecurity awareness, it’s necessary to establish a vision that resonates with all the stakeholders. In other words, you should know what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it.

Metacompliance states that human error remains the number one cause of cyber-attacks. This statistic makes prevention and education one of the primal focuses in company strategy right now. Companies are better to focus on integrating security awareness into workplace culture to achieve this understanding of how significant a data breach is. Developing a security strategy will aid in the prevention and protection of sensitive data leaks, maintain the reputation of the business and reduce the level of threat for the organization.

For example, identify your security goals and the practices or actions necessary to achieve them. Highlight how these goals are to be achieved across the various departments in your company. If you want to educate end-users about phishing attacks, for instance, explain in detail the risks of clicking unsolicited URLs.

Cybersecurity Awareness

Cybersecurity Awareness

You can then create a clear vision statement that supports that particular security awareness goal. What follows is to introduce new practices that guide everyone involved on the right channel of communication. This should also detail the right action to take in case of suspicious emails and links.

When creating a cybersecurity awareness strategy, you should also pay attention to three key aspects: awareness, behaviors, and culture. In other words, what do people understand about staying safe in the online world (awareness)? How do they behave before, during, and after a potential attack (behavior)? How do they perceive cybersecurity, and are they confident enough to mitigate potential risks (culture)? As mentioned above, it is critical for your business to make sure not only you and experts are aware of cyber-hygiene, but everyone in your organization – and embedding this into your culture is an extremely helpful way to do so.

Layout Your Metrics

For years, organizations have relied on awareness training platforms that report on obvious metrics such as training completion rates, phishing simulations, click rates, and employee performance on security awareness tests.

While such metrics are still helpful, they aren’t comprehensive and perhaps not as effective as they were once designed to be. It appears that human monitoring cannot be solely relied upon, where attackers today are taking great advantage of the fact that most cyber-attacks are a result of human error. Today, the best awareness programs link performance metrics to employee behavior. They use artificial intelligence and machine learning to further recommend the possible actions needed to ensure improvements.

If you are to set up your in-house metrics to measure the effectiveness of security awareness programs, stick to the three aspects we highlighted earlier. Here’s how to go about it.

  • Measure Awareness

Give your employees cybersecurity questions regularly and gauge their performance. Poor scores mean that people are less aware of the fundamentals of cyber security, and perhaps more education is needed.

  • Measure Behavior

Simulate attacks and see how people respond to cyber-attacks. You should track if there is behavior improvement as you continue to launch simulated attacks. Try to incentivize good behavior and get more employees to pay attention to the right code of conduct before, during, and after potential attacks.

  • Measure Culture

Use surveys to measure employee feedback. Leverage intelligent insights to predict motivation behind people’s behaviors, then use this data to inform strategies that must be implemented as part of the organization’s security culture.

  • Link Insights to Business Drivers

After collecting insights from the performance metrics, you want to translate them to relatable business outcomes. In other words, what does poor cybersecurity awareness mean in terms of the quality of awareness training programs? What can be done to improve on this, and how will this reduce cyber risks in the future?

The goal is to relate every insight you get from the metrics to actionable business steps that can help improve cyber security awareness in terms of general knowledge, behavior, and culture change.

Security Awareness Start With the Right Tools

Security awareness training is fundamental for any business looking to mitigate user risk. For employees, it is necessary to be able to understand cyber hygiene and combat information security breaches, with the ever-increasing security risks today. However, whether you are implementing security awareness training or tracking its impacts, your success will largely depend on the tools you are using. A rule of thumb is prioritizing governance, risk, and compliance when looking for the best security awareness training and monitoring platform.

Some of the popular tools in the market come with customizable dashboards and user-friendly reporting metrics and insights. That way, you can create a comprehensive security awareness program that’s unique and compatible with your organization.

Thank you for reading!