If one thing is for sure, it's that cyber security is constantly changing. You think you understand it one day, but the next, it can seem like everything has changed.
The unfortunate side-effect is that employees have a difficult job when it comes to remaining cyber-safe. Cyber criminals are always coming up with new and innovative techniques to target businesses and their employees alike.
Because of this looming threat, it's crucial to ensure that employees are trained against a variety of security-related topics that are relevant to their day-to-day work.
To help with this, we'll showcase the 10 most popular security awareness training topics. But before we do that, let's briefly recap what security awareness training is.
Jump To The #1 Security Awareness Training Topic Of 2023
What You'll Learn In This Article.
- What security awareness training is and why it's important.
- What the most popular security awareness training topics are.
- What education employees receive when they undertake security awareness training.
- How you can get started on your employee training journey.
What Is Security Awareness Training?
It's a training exercise where employees are educated on various cyber security best practices.
Because cyber security is such a large domain, security awareness training is commonly broken into bite-sized topics, where instead of overwhelming an employee on all things cyber security, we focus on what's important to them, which could be just a subset of topics.
The Most Popular Security Awareness Training Topics
Now, let's get into what we're all actually here for. The trainings shown below have been carefully curated based on statistics gathered from the CanIPhish Cloud Platform throughout 2023.
#1 Phishing Awareness Training
It's no surprise that this is the most popular topic!
Phishing is a threat that every business is facing, and with such a reliance on communication protocols such as email and SMS, it's only becoming more popular!
In this training, employees learn about a variety of phishing-related subject matter, such as:
- What is phishing? It's a type of social engineering attack commonly used to steal sensitive information, compromise computer networks, or directly steal money.
- What should you do if you receive phishing? Report the email to your IT or Security team for analysis.
- Why is phishing so common? Phishing is viewed by attackers as low effort, highly effective and low risk.
- How can you spot phishing attacks? Look out for spoofed sender addresses, urgent subjects, requests for personal information or a request to perform an action.
Tip: Couple phishing simulations with phishing awareness training to reinforce education from this training topic!
#2 Ransomware Awareness Training
Coming in at a close #2, ransomware is a threat that worries every executive!
These attacks are designed to extort companies out of their hard-earned revenue. In some cases, the effects of these attacks have even put companies out of business.
In this training, employees learn about a variety of ransomware-related subject matter, such as:
- What is ransomware? It's a type of software that maliciously encrypts files and demands a ransom.
- Why should we care about ransomware? Ransomware is growing in popularity and can cause serious disruptions to business operations.
- How do cyber criminals spread ransomware? Through a combination of social engineering and exploitation of system vulnerabilities.
- How can we prevent ransomware Keep systems up-to-date with security patches, understand how to spot phishing, and maintain system backups.
- How can we recover from ransomware Before restoring from backups, ensure the cyber criminals have been removed from your environment.
#3 Cyber Security Awareness Training
Cyber security is often viewed as a complex and ever-evolving topic. While this is true in some respects, there are a variety of easy-to-learn fundamentals that every employee should know.
In this training, employees learn about various cyber security concepts, such as:
- What is cyber security? It's the practice of protecting computer systems from digital attacks, theft, and other forms of malicious damage.
- What types of cyber attacks are there? At a high level cyber attacks can be bundled into phishing, malware, and denial of service attacks.
- How can you protect against cyber attacks? By implementing a defense-in-depth approach to ensure employees know how to detect and prevent cyber breaches.
- Why is cyber security important? It helps to protect against financial loss, reputational damage, and other negative consequences associated with cyber attacks.
#4 Secure Internet Browsing Training
To ensure businesses are primed to take full advantage of the benefits that the Internet provides, we need to ensure that employees can remain safe and secure while accessing it.
In this training, employees learn about several secure internet browsing practices, such as:
- What does it mean to browse the internet securely? It's taking steps to ensure your personal and sensitive information is protected while using the internet.
- How can you practice secure internet browsing? By using unique passwords, avoiding suspicious emails and websites, and by using up-to-date antivirus software.
- The types of online fraud. Internet fraud typically involves credit cards, malware, or stolen credentials.
- Using a secure web browser. Web browsers should detect websites associated with phishing and malware, provide ad-blocking measures, and implement encryption.
#5 Multi-Factor Authentication Training
Multi-factor authentication is a technology that's been growing exponentially in popularity over recent years. It helps to protect businesses against a wide variety of cyber attacks and provides assurances that the person logging into a service is who they say they are.
In this training, employees learn about a variety of multi-factor authentication subject matter, such as:
- What is multi-factor authentication? It's an authentication mechanism where users need to enter two or more different types of authentication credentials before gaining access to a system or resource.
- What types of multi-factor authentication are there? Something you know (e.g. a password), something you have (e.g. a physical one-time-password token), and something you are (e.g. fingerprint).
- Why is multi-factor authentication important? To mitigate against cyber criminals compromising accounts through abuse of password brute-forcing or purchasing password dumps on the dark web.
#6 Physical Security Awareness Training
Whether employees are in the office, working from home, or working from a library, a lack of physical security can have significant consequences if physical devices are stolen or compromised.
In this training, employees learn a variety of physical security subject matter, such as:
- What is physical security? It's all about protecting people and physical assets from physical threats.
- How can someone protect themselves? Through a mixture of perimeter security, access controls, and surveillance, you can protect against physical threats.
- What's needed to get started? Operationalizing physical security controls requires documented policies and procedures.
- Are there any privacy, liability, or cyber security considerations? Implementing certain protection mechanisms may have unforeseen impacts on other areas of concern.
#7 Remote Working Training
Remote working training is only becoming more and more popular.
During the COVID pandemic, many businesses were suddenly thrust into a remote working environment. Ensuring employees can work both remotely and securely is a two-way endeavor. Businesses need to ensure that remote workers have the necessary tools and equipment, while employees need to ensure they follow industry best practices for securing their remote working environment.
In this training, employees learn about a variety of remote working subject matter, including:
- Remote working arrangements. How do you enjoy the benefits of flexible work while also doing so securely?
- Creating a secure workplace. Choose a secure location, protect your devices, and encrypt your traffic.
- Remote communication best practices. Use consistent communication methods that offer end-to-end encryption.
- Work travel best practices. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks and always use a VPN if you must use one.
- Mobile device best practices. Enable screen locks, patch regularly and backup your data regularly.
#8 Device Security Training
On any given day, employees could use a myriad of devices such as mobile phones, laptops, desktop computers, server infrastructure, printers, etc.
Ensuring we handle these devices safely and securely is paramount.
In this training, employees learn about a variety of device security subject matter, including:
- What is device security? It's all about protecting devices such as computers, smartphones, and other internet-connected devices from threats.
- How do we secure devices from physical access? Lock devices when not in use, protect devices from theft, and use privacy screens.
- Can we protect devices against malware? Install antivirus software, keep devices up to date, and learn to spot the phish.
- What types of devices need protection? Smart home devices, IoT devices, and networking equipment such as routers and switches need to be protected.
#9 Situational Awareness Training
Ever had a gut feeling that proved to be correct? This is what situational awareness is all about.
Situational awareness can apply to all aspects of an employee's work, from walking around the office to browsing the internet to commuting home with work equipment.
In this training, employees learn about various situational awareness subject matter, including:
- What is situational awareness? It’s the understanding of when and where to look for potential threats with the ability to use this knowledge to make informed decisions.
- Why is situational awareness important? It can empower people to remain confident in their abilities to stay cyber-safe.
- How can you increase situational awareness? By staying vigilant against phishing, staying informed of threats, and securing physical devices.
- How situational awareness can detect threats. Awareness of one's surroundings can equip them to quickly detect and recognize suspicious activity.
#10 Insider Threat Training
Insider threats are the most dangerous type of threat out there. These are trusted individuals who abuse their position of trust with malicious intent.
In this training, employees learn about various insider threat subject matter, including:
- What is an insider threat? Any employee or trusted individual who has access or knowledge of a business's inner workings and intends to maliciously abuse this access or knowledge.
- What motivates an insider threat? Various factors can motivate insider threats, including personal gain, financial incentives, revenge, ideological beliefs, coercion, and curiosity.
- How can you protect against insider threats? By trusting your instincts, classifying documents, and fostering a culture of security.
- Why are insider threats so dangerous? They have intrinsic knowledge or access that can allow them to inflict serious harm on a business that an external attacker may not otherwise be able to do.
There you have it! That concludes the 10 most popular security awareness training topics.
While choosing popular topics to train employees on is important, it's not the only thing you should consider. We additionally recommend following these simple best practices when kickstarting your employee training program:
- Keep things short and simple. Training should be delivered in 10 minutes or less.
- Only educate employees on cyber security topics that relate to their day-to-day work.
- Focus on the positive, not the negative. Fear tactics can inhibit productivity.
- Train progressively and consistently. The mind is a muscle that is best trained over time.
If you're looking to get started, you can create a free account to access the CanIPhish Cloud Platform. We provide a fully functioning phishing simulator and eLearning platform to train employees against dozens of different cyber security topics.