Boosting Security Compliance Training in 2019

Security compliance is an essential element in any business’s fight against cybercrime. Why? Because in 2019, the threat to data protection is greater than ever — from phishing and other types of email scams to new and evolving viruses, malware and other cybercriminal activity that puts your confidential business information at risk.

Effective compliance comes from training, though for many businesses, the best strategy isn’t always clear. How can you engage employees and reinforce the importance of training so they take a more active role in maintaining data security at all times?

Firstly, it’s essential that you demonstrate to your workers that cybersecurity is a top priority. This helps ease any reluctance toward training, but it also illustrates the vital role employees themselves play in awareness, compliance and commitment to data security. Without this buy-in, your security efforts are likely to fall flat.

Of course, emphasizing this point applies not only to your staff (full time, part time, contract, interns, etc.), but just as importantly, to your top-level team. Everyone must participate in training and awareness programs for your company to succeed.

Read on for the key actions to take in security compliance today.

Know Where Risks Originate

Cybercriminals are constantly refining their efforts to breach your company’s data safeguards. As part of the training protocol, clearly identify ways in which cybercriminals seek to obtain proprietary information and how they use social media platforms to introduce malware and other security threats by getting people to click on a link they thought was sent by a “friend.”

Create an Accessible and Relevant Training Program

Too many security compliance training programs struggle to overcome these issues:

  • Overwhelming employees with high-tech information (and jargon).
  • Failing to adequately communicate established company policies.
  • Providing too much training in too short a time frame.
  • Relying on passive absorption of information.
  • Irregular scheduling of training sessions and webinars.

Probably the most effective approach to counter these errors, notes Fast Company, is making sure to answer three key questions:

  1. What actions do you want employees to take as a result of training?
  2. How will these actions result in a safer workplace?
  3. What “cues” should prompt employees to take action that ensures security?

Focusing on the answers to these questions will make the experience more memorable for those taking part in the program.

Engage Employees in Training

Though some employees may find training a bit frustrating, finding ways to engage them directly could help.

For example, rather than relying on digital instruction alone or expecting employees to wade through a trove of printed materials, create one-on-one sessions with a knowledgeable instructor (such as an IT person who knows how to translate cybersecurity language into accessible content).

Another approach involves simulated exercises that start with a recognizable security threat and then ask employees to take the appropriate steps to report and contain it. Your instructor can also walk employees through the consequences of a data breach in their personal lives — how these threats can negatively impact their own financial status, domestic privacy concerns and other dangers. Most employees can easily make the conceptual leap from a bad outcome in their own lives to the ramifications their employers face in the marketplace.

HR Technologist also suggests appointing “cybersecurity coaches” in every department — knowledgeable individuals whom other employees can go to for quick answers to questions and who can also “suggest security improvements whenever they notice something is wrong with current policies.”

Incorporate Compliance Training in Onboarding

Long-time employees should be brought up to date in terms of modern training, but the most effective technique is starting from a new hire’s first day on the job. During the onboarding process, compliance training could cover:

  • The full spectrum of your company’s established cybersecurity protocols.
  • A listing of in-house resources to assist with compliance, such as an IT help desk or HR consultant.
  • An outline of what to do when a security risk appears.

With both new hires and your current staff, invite feedback on the program’s effectiveness. The answers and insights employees provide can help you refine training content and techniques so that the focus remains on accessibility and engagement – two elements that are absolutely essential to effective compliance.

Keep It Ongoing

Compliance training should never be a one-time event. As threats continue to evolve, new training sessions should be regularly scheduled so employees never fall behind in security awareness.

Training should also reflect any changes in company policies regarding data security and privacy. Where employees are concerned, it’s crucial that their understanding is documented and retested as a part of compliance planning.

Build a Culture of Cybersecurity Appreciation

Many companies have established employee recognition and rewards programs that focus on sales performance, work initiative and other traditional indicators of success. By adding cybersecurity awareness and effectiveness to your reward and incentive efforts, you help to foster a culture of cybersecurity appreciation.

Recognizing each employee’s commitment to training with a tangible reward (i.e., a small bonus or extra day of PTO) supports the security compliance efforts that are so essential to your company’s growth. Highlight individual employees or project teams for their adherence in this area and watch buy-in grow throughout the organization.

Working Together to Protect Your Data in 2019

The more your workforce understands the value of compliance training, the better the results. This year, make ongoing communications on this topic a key element of your data protection strategy. Share with employees how their efforts in this area result in fewer data breaches as a result of human error, how a strengthened company reputation assures prospective customers they can trust you with their data, and how the business sees savings in time and money when cybersecurity is routinely enforced and theft is reduced to an absolute minimum.

Lee Polevoi
Lee Polevoi
Lee Polevoi is a veteran freelance business writer specializing in exploring the opportunities and challenges facing small businesses in the U.S. today. A former senior writer for Vistage International (a global membership organization of CEOs), Lee regularly produces articles, white papers, blog posts and more for the diverse small business audience.

See all posts by Lee Polevoi
  • All views expressed on the published articles at are those of each of the authors, and do not in any way represent the opinions of Mastercard International Incorporated or any of its affiliates (“Mastercard”). Mastercard is not responsible of the information contained in these articles.