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The Secret to Building a Great Security & Compliance Awareness Training Program

May 13, 2022

A Strong Start is Vital for a Successful Training Program 


Establishing a comprehensive, effective security awareness and compliance training program is critical for reducing risk and fostering security success. Why? Because security and compliance awareness training works. Companies that engage in regular security awareness training have 70% fewer security incidents. Empowered employees that feel confident about their security and compliance knowledge are an invaluable resource that saves businesses time, money and headaches – and an effective training program is a great way to make that happen.  


Excerpted in part from our eBook How to Build a Security Awareness Training Program. GET IT>> 


Establish a Strong Foundation for Your Program  


Running a great security and compliance awareness training program starts with establishing a strong foundation. It’s also an essential pillar of building a strong security culture, a vital asset for reducing risk. Without that, employees can be confused and complacent about security. Approximately 45% of respondents in a HIPAA Journal survey said that they don’t need to worry about cybersecurity safeguards because they don’t work in the IT department, a sure path to a security disaster. Training is essential to eliminate misconceptions like that, and by following a few simple steps, any organization can develop and implement an effective security and compliance awareness training program.   

Start by familiarizing yourself with NIST Special Publication 800-50 “Building an Information Technology Security Awareness and Training Program”, an industry-standard guide that delineates the lifecycle of an effective security awareness training program. Your security and compliance training program should follow the general framework recommended in that publication, adjusted as needed to fit your organization. By dividing the nuts and bolts of your program into the four phases NIST recommends, you can ensure that you’re covering all of the bases.  


The Four Phases of Program Development 


  1. Awareness and Training Program Design 
  1. Awareness and Training Material Development 
  1. Program Implementation 
  1. Post-Implementation 

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Prepare for Success 


Starting strong is the key to getting positive training results and accomplishing your training goals. NIST advises that a successful IT security program consists of:    

  1. Developing IT security policies that reflect business needs tempered by known risks    
  2. Informing users of their IT security responsibilities, as documented in agency security policy and procedures   
  3. Establishing processes for monitoring and reviewing the program 

Get tips for developing a security awareness training policy in this infographic.


Choose Your Model 


Three common models can be used for structuring a security and compliance awareness training program. Every organization is unique, so the model you choose may need adjusting to fit your organization’s needs.  

Centralized: All responsibility for training and program development rests with a central authority like the CIO or IT Security Manager 

Partially Decentralized: Training policy and strategy lie with a central authority, but implementation responsibilities are distributed throughout the company.  

Fully Decentralized: Only policy development resides with a central authority. All other responsibilities are delegated to various departments and managers. 


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Start Your Awareness and Training Program Design 


In this step, an organization-wide needs assessment is conducted, enabling you to develop a training strategy. Using the results, you’ll be able to create a formalized strategic planning document that identifies the tasks that should be completed to ensure that your program successfully accomplishes your security training goals


Phase 1: Develop Your Program Structure to Fit Your Needs 


Every organization has a unique set of resources and limitations to consider when architecting the structure of a security awareness training program. Your company may also be required to follow certain regulated procedures or be subject to cyberattack threats that don’t exist in other industries. Asking yourself a few questions off the top will help you narrow your focus when determining your program structure.  

  • Is one model more in line with your company’s management style? 
  • Who are the stakeholders?  
  • Who has the skills to implement a program?  
  • Who has the bandwidth to handle this project?   
  • How will implementation work? 
  • Are there geographic or other barriers that must be accounted for? 
  • How much funding do you have for the program? 

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Phase 2: Conduct a Risk and Needs Assessment 


Figuring out your program’s strategy, requirements and goals hinges on knowing what risks you’re training employees to avoid and what compliance procedures you want them to follow. Start out by noting your risks, the problems that you’re intending to solve and the behaviors that you’d like to encourage like “better password habits” or “HIPAA compliant data handling”. Gathering data like this can help you get to the bottom of your company’s true security and compliance picture and design the right program to improve it. 

  • List recent security incidents, their origin and their consequences 
  • If your company has had recent compliance failures, list them too including causes and penalties 
  • Determine if there are unique needs for training of employees or executives based on job type, duties and risks 
  • Analyze the feedback and metrics from any current or past training programs  
  • Be sure to include security and compliance needs for everyone from interns to the C-suite in your assessment 
  • Loop in key stakeholders and solicit honest feedback about the risks they see 
  • Review any existing assessments from regulators, oversight bodies, internal surveys and similar tools 

Phase 3: Develop Your Strategy 


Gather all of the results of your research into a working document for easy reference. Analyze the data that you’ve collected and use it to create your strategy. Once you’ve got that laid out, codify it in detail to ensure that all stakeholders in the effort are on the same page. You should include these elements: 

  • Requirements of any local, national or industry compliance standards 
  • The scope of your program 
  • The roles and responsibilities of everyone involved with the program like who chooses training materials and who makes sure everyone is being trained 
  • Your program’s exact, defined goals like “understanding PCI-DSS compliance” or “detection of phishing emails” 
  • Any essential factors that must be accounted for like compliance examinations, organizational impact, critical project dependencies, availability of training resources, geographic or time constraints, etc.  
  • Your target audiences and the composition of your training groups 
  • The courses or training types that are mandatory and optional for each group 
  • The objectives for the program 
  • The topics that the program will address 
  • The frequency of training 
  • How you will deploy the training 
  • How to document feedback and learning accomplishments 
  • How training materials and procedures will be evaluated  
  • When the program’s success will be evaluated 
  • Available funding and resources 
  • Your KPIs 
  • The metrics that define success 

Check out part two of this series for more tips on 05/19/2022!


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Conducting Effective Training is Easy with BullPhish ID 


Training is easy when you choose the right solution to support your training goals. BullPhish ID has all of the tools that you need to successfully conduct effective and affordable security awareness and compliance training that’s painless for everyone.  

  • Gain access to a large library of training videos to educate employees on how to avoid cyber threats like phishing and ransomware.  
  • Simplify compliance training with video lessons that make complex requirements easy to understand.  
  • Train your way and on your schedule with plug-and-play phishing simulation kits or customizable content that can be tailored to fit your industry’s unique threats.  
  • Be confident that you’re educating employees about the latest threats or compliance requirements, with at least four new training videos and fresh phishing kits added every month.  
  • Training videos are available in eight languages: English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish (Iberian/European) and Spanish (Latin).  
  • Leverage in-lesson quizzes and simple, easy-to-read reports to see the value of training and know who needs additional support.   
  • Simplify the training process and make it convenient for every employee with a personalized user portal.   
  • Automatically generate and send reports to stakeholders.  

Want to learn more about security awareness training and how BullPhish ID can help secure your company and save you money? Explore the benefits of training with BullPhish ID today.  Or, book a demo and see BullPhish ID in action


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