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PHILADELPHIA, PENN. -- (ISC)2 World Congress 2012 and ASIS International 2012 -- End user awareness programs often fail to teach users much about security, and they frequently don't do much to improve enterprise security, experts said this week.In a new survey on security training, Trustwave found that while 56 percent of security professionals claim they train new users during orientation, only 32 percent of employees say they have been educated on enterprise security.

This training gap has resulted in serious problems for some companies, according to the Trustwave study. Enterprises experience some 14.4 incidents of data loss per year due to employee negligence, and 15 percent of them have reported an insider breach executed with malicious intent. The annual meeting of (ISC)2, one of the world's largest associations of security professionals, members and other experts agreed that so-called "security awareness programs," while often required to meet human resources guidelines or compliance mandates, are often poorly conceived or poorly executed.

One of the problems with user awareness programs is that they are geared toward giving users information, rather than changing their behavior, said Rohyt Belani, CEO of the security firm PhishMe, in a session here yesterday. "Giving users information is not very useful if it doesn't cause them to behave in a more secure way," Belani said. "They need to see the potential impact of insecure behavior and change what they do." Peeler agreed. "Sometimes awareness programs are developed by people who understand security, but don't know very much about learning theory," she said. "A lot of people don't learn very well with PowerPoint and an instructor. They might do better with a hands-on course, or more visual or auditory training. People learn in different ways."

Ideally, training programs should be developed by a security professional and training professional working together, rather than relying on one or the other, Peeler suggested. "You want somebody who knows security and what you're trying to teach, and you also want somebody who understands learning theory," she said.

The Trustwave study suggests that some organizations still don't have a policy in place to train users on. Some 87 percent of breached businesses did not have a security policy program that included user awareness when the breach took place, the study says.

Cross-posted from: Search Security



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