Why You Need End User Security Training (Making the Business Case)

Everything you need to make a solid case for end user security training. Why its necessary, what training looks like and how to quantify cyber risks.

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End users (or just people) are critical in shaping cybersecurity outcomes.

The actions of individuals can make or break security defenses.

Unfortunately, many end users fall victim to cyber threats, often via the very devices they use for work.

The most effective way to protect yourself or your team against these types of attacks is through security training.  

But what is end user security training?

Well, it’s about keeping you and your workforce updated on the latest cybersecurity dangers, knowing what to look out for, and what to do if a potentially dangerous interaction occurs.

No matter how good your IT department is at putting up firewalls, multi-factor authentication, and IP-based logins, according to a landmark study by IBM - 95% of all cybersecurity breaches happen because of human error.

Quick overview: What is end user security training?

End user security training is the process of educating your employees about cybersecurity best practices, potential threats, and how to mitigate risks in their day-to-day jobs.

The basic goal is to empower end users to recognize and respond to security risks so that you can reduce the likelihood of security breaches and enhancing the overall security posture of your organization.

Here's why end user security training is necessary

Cyber threats can be costly

Cyber attacks can have devastating financial consequences for organizations of all sizes.

While it's tricky to provide exact estimates due to the varying nature and impact of cyber crime, here are some rough benchmarks for the financial costs...

Recovery costs

Businesses often incur substantial expenses in responding to and recovering from cyber attacks. This could be due to hiring cybersecurity experts, conducting forensic investigations, restoring compromised systems, and implementing enhanced security measures.

These costs can range from tens of thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the severity and complexity of the attack.

Lost revenue

Cyber attacks can disrupt your day-to-day operations, which means downtime, productivity losses, and missed opportunities for revenue generation.

Estimates put the average cost of downtime due to a ransomware attacks at around $274,000 per incident.

Legal costs

Your businesses could face legal and regulatory repercussions following a cyber attack, including fines, penalties, and litigation expenses.

The costs of legal defense, settlements, and regulatory fines can run into millions of dollars for organizations found liable for data breaches.

Reputational damage

One of the most significant costs of a cyber attack is the damage to your company's reputation and brand image.

Studies have found that the average cost of a data breach related to reputation damage can exceed $4 million (not including the loss of customer trust and loyalty).

And the landscape of cyber attacks is constantly changing

The threat landscape is always growing, driven by advancements in technology, changes in the tactics of malicious actors, and shifts in the wider digital ecosystem.

Attacks are getting more sophisticated

Attackers are now leveraging advanced tools and tactics to bypass traditional security defenses.

From highly targeted spear-phishing campaigns to complex ransomware attacks, cyber threats are becoming more and more difficult to detect and mitigate.

(This is why you need security awareness training that will keep your employees up-to-date with the latest threats).

Remote working can increase human risk

The rise of remote working generally means more security risk.

Unsecured home networks and personal devices significantly boost the risk of unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyber attacks.

Ransomeware is evolving

Ransomware attacks continue to grow in both sophistication and scale, with new tactics such as double extortion and ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS).

Need help quantifying cybersecurity risks? Here's some examples of real-world attacks and their cost

SolarWinds supply chain attack: In late 2020, the SolarWinds supply chain attack compromised the software build process of SolarWinds' Orion platform, resulting in the distribution of malicious updates to thousands of organizations worldwide. Estimates suggest that the total cost of the SolarWinds attack could exceed billions of dollars.

Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack: In 2021, the Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest fuel pipelines in the United States, fell victim to a ransomware attack carried out by the DarkSide cybercriminal group. The attack forced Colonial Pipeline to shut down its operations temporarily, leading to fuel shortages, price spikes, and disruptions in supply chains across the eastern United States. While the exact financial impact of the attack is undisclosed, Colonial Pipeline reportedly paid a ransom of $4.4 million to the attackers to regain control of its systems.

JBS Foods ransomware attack: Also in 2021, JBS Foods, one of the world's largest meat processing companies, experienced a ransomware attack that disrupted its operations in North America and Australia. The attack resulted in production shutdowns, supply chain disruptions, and financial losses for the company. While JBS Foods did not disclose the exact amount paid in ransom, reports suggest that the company negotiated a payment of $11 million to the cybercriminals responsible for the attack.

Common causes of security breaches

Phishing and social engineering

Phishing attacks remain one of the leading causes of security breaches in companies.

According to the 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), phishing attacks were involved in 40% of breaches.

These attacks typically involve tricking employees into clicking on malicious links or providing sensitive information.

End user security training outcomes
Source: IBM / Ponemon Institute Cost of a Data Breach study

Weak passwords

Weak or stolen passwords continue to be a significant security risk for organizations.

The 2023 Cybersecurity Insights Report by Keeper Security found that 65% of businesses experienced a cyberattack caused by a compromised password.

Unpatched software

Failure to patch or update software can leave your organizations vulnerable to exploitation.

The 2023 Global Threat Intelligence Report by NTT Ltd. found that 38% of all attacks observed were related to vulnerabilities in software and applications.

Insider threats

Insider threats (e.g. malicious insiders and negligent employees) pose a significant risk to your company's security.

According to the 2023 Insider Threat Report by Cybersecurity Insiders, 72% of organizations reported experiencing an insider attack in the past 12 months.

These attacks can involve employees intentionally stealing data, accidentally exposing sensitive information, or falling victim to social engineering tactics.

Lack of security awareness training

According to the 2023 State of Privacy and Security Awareness Report by MediaPRO, 92% of surveyed employees lacked at least some knowledge about cybersecurity best practices...

And even just raising awareness isn’t enough.

This is why here at Hoxhunt, our solution uses interactive, bite-sized trainings that employees that measurably reduce risk and unsafe behaviors.

How does security training actually work?

End user security training breaks down into three easy steps:
1. Changing behaviour
2. Using common sense
3. Maintaining awareness.

The first step can often be the hardest: employees might resist a change to their usual patterns and may view training in general as a chore.

It’s important, in this step, to make the overall end user security training apparatus as inclusive and positive as possible.

A good recipe for achieving this is to reward for participation and success, and not punish for failure.

The second step, common sense, might seem like the easiest step, but it’s important to remember that hackers and phishers often use social conditioning techniques to make themselves appear to be someone they most certainly aren’t.

  • Domain spoofing can make an enduser think they’re on a safe website.
  • Social engineering methods can make an end user think they’re talking to a safe person.
  • Simply using a false sense of urgency or authority can trick an end user into performing how a hacker wants them to, such as clicking on a link or sharing their login info or personal details.

The third step of 'maintaining awareness' is the most crucial step, as this is where most end user security training apparatuses fall apart.

Most companies will train in one big unfulfilling training session... but this often leads to a false sense of completion.

Once an end user completes this type of training, they’re left to fill in the gaps of knowledge themselves which can lead to big holes in your company’s cybersecurity efforts. 

Our data shows that only after 6-10 microtrainings (with an average 10-day cadence), cybersecurity behavior undergoes dramatic and sustained improvement.

The benefits of end user security training

Reduced risk of security breaches

Well-trained employees will be better equipped to identify and mitigate potential security threats, such as phishing emails, malware downloads, and social engineering attacks.

A study conducted by IBM in 2023 revealed that organizations with comprehensive end user security training programs experienced a 50% reduction in the frequency of security incidents compared to those without such training initiatives.

Increased security awareness

According to a survey by Ponemon Institute in 2023, organizations that provided regular end user security training reported a 60% improvement in employee awareness of cybersecurity risks and best practices.

Improved compliance

Compliance with industry regulations and data protection laws is critical for organizations across most sectors.

Failure to comply can often come with hefty fines often reaching into the millions, so investing in training is absolutely necessary.

Enhanced incident response

A cybersecurity incident response exercise conducted by a technology company in 2023 revealed that employees who had undergone end user security training were able to identify and report security incidents 30% faster than their non-trained counterparts.

Saved costs

According to a report by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in 2023, organizations that invested in end user security training experienced an average cost savings of $200 per employee per year due to reduced security incidents and associated remediation costs.

Corporate reputation protected

A case study conducted by a public relations firm in 2023 demonstrated that organizations that prioritized end user security training saw a 25% improvement in their Net Promoter Score (NPS) following a security incident.

Building a business case for end user security training

Quantify the financial impact of security breaches

Quantifying the financial impact of cybersecurity breaches is crucial for understanding the true cost of these incidents and hammering home why end user training is so essential.

Here are some steps you can take to assess the financial impact of security breaches:

  • Direct costs: Consider expenses related to incident response, forensic investigation, and remediation efforts. This may also include hiring external cybersecurity experts, purchasing new security software or hardware, and conducting user awareness training sessions.
  • Lost revenue: Determine the financial impact of any downtime or disruption to business operations caused by the breach (lost sal
  • Reputation damage: Factor in the potential loss of customer trust and loyalty following a security breach. This can lead to customer churn, decreased sales, and damage to your organization's reputation.
  • Legal and regulatory costs: Make note of any potential legal and regulatory consequences of a breach, including fines, penalties, and settlements resulting from non-compliance with data protection laws and regulations.
  • Insurance coverage: Determine the extent of insurance coverage available to mitigate the financial impact of the breach.

Factoring in these costs will help to demonstrate the ROI of a security awareness training program.

Showcase success stories

Provide examples of companies that have successfully implemented end user security training programs and the positive impact they have experienced.

Look for evidence of measurable improvements in incident response, cost savings, or customer satisfaction.

Collaborate with key stakeholders

Involve key stakeholders, such as IT managers, HR professionals, and executives, in the decision-making process.

You may need to demonstrate the impact training will have on their role and objectives.

This collaboration helps build consensus and ensures that the training program aligns with the organization's goals and priorities.

What makes an end user training program effective?

Relevant for your employees and organisation  

Training content should be relevant to employees' day-to-day activities, location, role and skill level.

It should address realistic cybersecurity risks and threats that employees are likely to encounter in their work environment.

Engaging training content

You don't want to bore your employees with long, boring training content.

The best results tend to come from digestible, gamified security awareness programs.

Measurable results that can be tracked and reported on

Make sure to choose a vendor that has performance metrics to assess the effectiveness of the training program and measure changes in employee behavior over time.

How to choose the right training vendor: questions to ask yourself

Compliance and certification

You'll want to check the industry standards and regulatory requirements that apply to your organization.

Look for certifications, accreditations, and compliance certifications, such as ISO 27001, NIST, GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS, to ensure that the training program you go with meets legal and regulatory obligations.

Do you need to analyse and report on effectiveness?

If you're responsible for reporting on cybersecurity metrics at your organization, then you'll need to choose a vendor that can track and measure how well your training program is working.

Look for features such as real-time dashboards, customizable reports, metrics tracking, and benchmarking tools that provide insights into employee engagement, performance, and behavior change over time.

Are there any hidden costs?

When weighing up pricing, consider things like implementation expenses and any additional fees for customization, support, or maintenance.

Do you need a vendor that can scale with your organization?

Choose a vendor that can scale with your organization's evolving needs and growth trajectory.

Look for vendors that offer flexible scalability options, including the ability to accommodate increasing user volumes, expanding training content libraries, and integrating with other security tools and platforms as your organization grows.

Measurably change behavior with Hoxhunt 📈

Hoxhunt's security awareness training for employees is purpose-built to deliver interactive, bite-sized trainings that employees genuinely enjoy.

Boost engagement, ensure compliance, and coach away risky behaviors.

  • 20x lower failure rate
  • 90%+ engagement rate
  • 75%+ detection rate
Hoxhunt end user security training

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