Employee Security Awareness Training: Combine Employee Motivation with Digital Security

Ransomware can hit anyone, so you should take precautions to secure your IT infrastructure. But security is about people and the right practices, not just technology. Prevention means more than just upgrading your security systems - the need for training to protect against ransomware and phishing attacks is critical.  

Well-designed security training begins with a thorough assessment of the threats, objectives, and the perspectives of target users. However, if the training is less-than-interesting, it will most likely be forgotten and disregarded. So, why waste money on ineffective security training that won't even help your organization reduce the number of cyber-threat victims?  

To increase learning output, companies have started incorporating gamification into their training programs. This is a stimulating tactic to engage users, make it fun, and remind them of security practices in a productive way.  

In this article, we will look at how to conduct awareness training properly - so no one falls asleep and takes something away from it - and how to use it in your day-to-day work. 

Why is Security Awareness Training Important?  

Security awareness training enables firms to defend their brand and reputation while securing their entire IT infrastructure amid growing cyber security threats. The threat is significant, and can translate into financial losses. In 2021, the average cost of a ransomware attack was $4.62 million. According to IDC's "2021 Ransomware Study," around 37% of worldwide enterprises were victims of some type of ransomware assault that year. Much of this loss is caused by people forgetting to take caution of unknown links and phishing campaigns. 

That's why you should hold regular training sessions to help people maintain their knowledge and make it a habit to apply this information in practice - ransomware attacks and campaigns tend to be very manipulative, and you can fall victim to them if you are not careful - even if you consider yourself a smart digital user. If you do it right, interactive, content-rich, and personalized awareness training can save your company a lot of money It all boils down to this: when companies engage in cybersecurity and security awareness training, it decreases the threats to security by 70%. It is therefore, worth it.  

At the same time, be careful not to overwhelm your employees with too many lengthy, boring, information-packed sessions all at once - which is far too often the case. So how do you manage not to bore people to death? How do you make them remember the knowledge and apply it in a practical way?  

Gamification comes to the rescue here. 

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The goal of safety awareness is to create a workplace where employees are encouraged to take charge of their own safety and not just be passive observers. Unfortunately, most safety awareness training is boring and repetitive. They do not become regular and active knowledge or a habit for people. 

What is needed is a comprehensive and immersive training program that includes interactive learning. Gamification has been shown to improve safety training performance. Typically, people do not look forward to mandatory safety training - but that can change with the use of gamification strategies.  

We all know the feelings of getting hooked to an online or a mobile game - be it among us during pandemic, Candy Crush or Pokemon Go, right? The truth is, we can harness that in a professional setting, too.  

Imagine: What if we combined an engaging game mechanic with a serious issue like security awareness? Let us find out! 

The Answer is Gamification of Security Training 

Gamification is a technique that uses components of game design for purposes other than games to increase participant motivation. Using motivational aspects such as unlocking levels, reward systems, storytelling, interactive videos, leaderboards, and levelling bars, you can encourage people to really engage on a deeper level during the learning process. More than simple multiple-choice tests or passive blocks of text or childish videos. 

Many companies use gamification for their training. Did you know that gamification is used by up to 70% of of the world's top 2,000 corporations? Gamification mechanisms used in training, onboarding, or even everyday tasks have been proven to create real change and add real value in many work environments. Thanks to gamified but effective delivery of information, employees can use safety prevention knowledge in their daily tasks and do not dismiss it as useless corporate training. Below, we will share some ideas on how gamification can increase the effectiveness of employee safety training. 

Lay Foundations for Cybersecurity Habits

If you want to make your employee security training a real thing, it's about changing employee behavior for the long term - not just filling out a meaningless quiz and then forgetting about it. Only when employees develop solid habits of handling and responding to email, do they really care about mobile device security, or create wifi and passwords outside of the training environment. That's when can we declare that training actually worked. 

So use gamification to make it real. If your employees learn to recognize the threats in, say, a phishing simulation game, and then make it a habit to report suspicious behavior to their supervisors because they get gamified incentives, a sense of accomplishment, or a leaderboard in return, it's very likely they'll do the same in real life. It's all about repetition and instilling healthy safety habits and practices.  

Incorporate a Reward and Competition System  

Curious about what else can contribute to effective cybersecurity training? User engagement is encouraged by including a ranking and reward system in awareness training. When each employee earns points for completed training sections and competes with others for badges and perks, their engagement and knowledge are bound to increase. When you build in healthy competition, engagement goes up - your staff will benefit much more from awareness training if they pay close attention to each section. If you want to move up in the rankings, you will need to pay a lot of attention. 

For people who are not motivated by status, there are always other forms of rewards that can be incorporated into a well-designed security awareness course - badges for achievements, unlocking levels, or even an extra day-off or e-vouchers.  

Diversify the Learning Techniques 

Most cybersecurity awareness programs follow a similar format reminiscent of lectures. And no one wants to go back to school, right? However, if you mix it up and use a gamified design, you can ensure that people actually remember the security policies that are so important to the organization. That’s why it is worth the effort to use a gamification platform that allows you to create new training materials and enhance existing ones with various gamification mechanisms. 

We like video games because they are engaging. And gamified training can be too! Employee safety training courses benefit from a variety of learning formats, such as advancing from Level 1 to Level 10 while completing story games and simulation tasks. An interactive comment section to exchange knowledge with others, or the task of applying and documenting what you have learned in real-life sounds much more motivating, does it not?  

You could also include a 'whodunit' scenario where users have to track down a ransomware criminal through interactive movies and progress checks that let you know when the course is complete. The possibilities are endless!

Use Gamification in Your Security Awareness Training  

As you can see, gamified elements in security training make a big difference when it comes to retaining real knowledge and applying it on a daily basis - which in turn minimizes your company's financial and reputational loss related to security threats. 

If you really want to stand out from the crowd, however, keep in mind that gamification needs to be carefully embedded into the learning path in a way that is not intrusive, but helps motivate people to engage in Your training. 

Still undecided about which platform to use for your interactive and engaging safety training? Grow Uperion will be happy to help.