How To Gamify Cyber Security Training In 3 Steps

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Sebastian Salla August 12, 2023 (Last Updated: December 13, 2023)

Gamification is the process by which we empower learners to educate themselves. In cyber security, gamification is typically done by simulating phishing attacks, assigning short bite-sized training, and using friendly competition between colleagues. In this article, we'll outline how any organization can implement these techniques to provide a fully gamified learning experience.

What You'll Learn In This Article.

  • How to train employees to spot phishing attacks by using simulated phishing exercises.
  • How to use micro-training modules to provide learners with a memorable learning experience.
  • How to use learner badges to initiate friendly competition between colleagues.
  • How to combine phishing, training, and friendly competition to gamify cyber security training.

How Do You Gamify Cyber Security Training?

Cyber security training can be gamified by following a simple three-step process. First, we need to simulate real-world threats. Second, we need to assign relevant, engaging, and bite-sized training. Finally, we need to add an element of friendly competition between learners.

Let’s delve into these steps and see how we can operationalize each.

Step 1. Simulate Real-World Cyber Security Threats.

When it comes to cyber security, seeing is believing. This statement particularly holds true when it comes to educating employees. For example, if we want to teach employees how to spot phishing emails, we're best off sending them simulated phishing that is as close to the real thing as possible. This allows employees to hone their skills and learn from their mistakes.

Phishing is tricky, and learning how to spot phishing can be even trickier. It often comes down to a gut feeling. Still, employees can use specific techniques to detect whether an email is likely to be phishing before they perform an action, such as clicking a link, downloading an attachment, or responding to an email.

These techniques include inspecting the domain used to send the email or hovering over URLs to see the intended destination. Employees should also always question whether they were expecting the email, if they recognise the sender, if they're being asked to bypass a standard procedure, if the email contains typos or grammatical issues, and finally what action is being asked of them.

An image describing a simulated phishing email.

The best thing about simulated phishing is that it's an active learning process where learners can hone their skills in a safe environment with minimal time investment.

Step 2. Assign Relevant, Engaging, And Bite-Sized Training.

Naturally, simulated phishing on its own won't always provide the best experience for learners. If we don't provide feedback on what could've been done to spot the phish, we're setting learners up for failure.

This is where the second part of gamified phishing training comes in by assigning relevant, engaging, and bite-sized training. This training should relate to a topic that the learner needs to know and will directly benefit them.

Because these learnings take time out of the day, we want to ensure they're clear, concise, and to the point. The training should be designed to be completed in 10 minutes or less. Anything longer, and the learner will shut down, with knowledge retention going downhill with each minute that passes.

An image depicting employees being assigned cyber security training.

It's also essential to switch the training material up. Don't just follow a single pattern, where there's a series of statements followed by a series of questions.

Use a mixture of videos, statements, and images, ensuring questions are spliced between each of these. This forces learners to engage with the educational material and ensures they retain as much knowledge as possible.

Step 3. Add An Element Of Friendly Competition Between Learners.

One of the most essential pieces to gamification is competition. Healthy competition can help to motivate even the most stubborn of learners, and this should be factored into gamified cyber security training programs.

This typically involves a leaderboard where learners are tracked based on positive measures, such as completing training on time on their first attempt, dodging phishing attacks, and much more.

An image depicting an organizational security awareness training leaderboard

Reward programs can then be established for those with the highest scores while reinforcing those with lower scores to perform positive behaviors in the future.

It's important to refrain from implementing any lasting penalizations, and just because someone has scored lower historically doesn't mean they should be disadvantaged in the future.

How Does CanIPhish Gamify Cyber Security Training?

CanIPhish has developed its entire platform around providing a genuinely unique and gamified phishing training experience. To provide this, we incorporate many of the techniques discussed above.

An image that says By following the outlined gamification process, you'll see higher levels of engagement, knowledge retention, and satisfaction with security awareness training in your organization!

You Can Gamify Phishing Simulations.

We provide a completely managed phishing simulation platform. We host the phishing email servers and websites and provide all the management capabilities around delivering simulated phishing campaigns, tracking statistics, and providing executive reporting.

Every phishing email leads to some form of secondary payload (e.g., a phishing website, attachment, or simply enticing a response), so we can provide learners with the real-world experience of how an attacker may compromise their computer, harvest their credentials, or perform a business email compromise attack.

You Can Assign Training To Those Most In Need.

We integrate security awareness training with simulated phishing. When a learner falls for a phishing attack, we automatically assign relevant training to help the employee better spot phishing in the future.

Suppose an employee is particularly prone to phishing. In that case, we increase their business risk score, which is then used to dictate the frequency with which they receive future simulated phishing emails and training assignments.

An image depicting the employee risk scoring process.

You Can Reward Good Behavior Through A Points-Based Badge System.

When positive or even negative actions are observed, we assign badges that carry points. These badges are assigned based on up to 20 different observed behaviors across both phishing and training assignments.

An image depicting example badges that can be earnt by exhibiting good or bad behaviors.

You Can Track Learners On An Organizational Leaderboard.

To incentivize employees, adding an element of competition is a must. As humans, we're incredibly competitive by nature, and by tracking employees on a leaderboard, we can reward those who consistently demonstrate good behaviors.

Wondering How You Can Get Started?

Simply sign-up for a free account, onboard your employees, and schedule a recurring simulated phishing and security awareness training campaign. From here, the platform will automatically deliver phishing and assign training to those who are compromised. More frequent phishing and training can then be assigned based on the risk profile associated with employees.

An image describing the benefits of using gamification to conduct cyber security training.

Gamification is built-in and requires no additional configuration. You just need to monitor the leaderboard and periodically reward your highest-scoring learners! By following the outlined gamification process, you'll see higher levels of engagement, knowledge retention, and satisfaction with security awareness training in your organization!