Circle 01
Circle 02
Circle 03

Join our mailing list

Subscribe to the TSC newsletter to receive exclusive news and advice
  • 26 October 2023
  • 10 min read

Understanding targeted & role-based security training

Dive into the nuances of targeted & role-based security training. Understand the significance, benefits, and strategies for robust cyber defence.
Blog Banner remote role based training

Whilst it is unquestionable that cyber security and awareness must be a part of your organisation’s infrastructure, have you considered drilling in with more precision via targeted and role-based security training and awareness?

According to Lorman, 85% of employees want to choose when their training occurs to fit their schedule and a whopping 91% want their training to be personalised and relevant.

In this article, we will explore the advantages of targeted and role-based security training and awareness.

We will also delve into the use of behavioural science models in the pursuit of culture change and discuss how organisations can assess their security culture.

What is Targeted and Role-Based Security Training?

In an era where cyber threats constantly evolve, organisations need tailored solutions that consider their distinct challenges and the roles within. Targeted and role-based security training offers this precision, ensuring both the collective and individual needs are met with expertise.

Targeted training zeroes in on specific vulnerabilities and risky behaviours within an organisation. It's like having a tailored suit—each training module is designed to fit the organisation's exact needs, ensuring that potential gaps are addressed effectively. This training stems from detailed evaluations, pinpointing vulnerabilities and offering targeted strategies to strengthen those specific areas.
Role-based security training specifically tailors cybersecurity education and awareness to the distinct challenges of each job role within an organisation. For example, while a junior marketing executive may primarily face social engineering threats, a senior IT manager might be focused on defending critical network systems. In varied settings, from healthcare to finance, this training approach ensures that every individual receives guidance aligned with their specific responsibilities and potential risks.

Role-Based Training: Tailored Cyber Awareness

Not all employees within an organisation face the same level of risk or deal with identical cyber threats. Role-based training, a key pillar in a comprehensive cyber security awareness program, acknowledges these nuances, tailoring training content to address the unique challenges faced by different groups of employees.

Understanding the Varied Risk Landscape

Within any organisation, the landscape of cyber risks is multifaceted. Different departments handle distinct types of sensitive data and have specific responsibilities. A junior marketing executive might be more exposed to social engineering attacks. In contrast, a senior IT manager is responsible for safeguarding critical network infrastructure.

Consider a large healthcare organisation. The clinical staff, who access patient records and healthcare data daily, are at heightened risk of ransomware attacks and data breaches. Conversely, the administrative staff, while also handling sensitive information, may face a different set of threats, such as phishing scams targeting payroll information. Role-based training recognises these differences and ensures that the training content is tailored accordingly.

Customising Training for Departmental Needs

Different departments often necessitate training that aligns with their specific roles and responsibilities. For example, a legal department may require training on data privacy regulations, while the IT department might focus on incident response procedures.

In a medium-sized law firm, the legal team's role-based training might delve into the intricacies of attorney-client privilege, emphasising the secure handling of confidential documents. Meanwhile, the finance department may receive specialised training on safeguarding financial transactions and preventing cyberattacks targeting client funds.

Seniority-Level Considerations

The hierarchical structure of an organisation also plays a pivotal role in determining the extent of cyber risks. Senior executives typically have access to critical decision-making information and are often targeted in spear-phishing attacks. Meanwhile, junior employees, while having lesser access, might be targeted due to perceived vulnerabilities.

In a large corporation, senior management could be exposed to CEO fraud attempts, where cybercriminals impersonate top-level executives to manipulate lower-ranking employees into transferring funds. Role-based security training would equip these senior leaders with the knowledge and skills to identify and respond to such threats.

Recognising Attack Surface Variation

The term "attack surface" refers to the points of vulnerability within an organisation. It varies according to department, job role, and seniority. Some employees may have a more extensive attack surface due to their access to critical systems and data, making them attractive targets for cybercriminals.

In a medium-sized software development company, software engineers who develop and maintain critical applications have a broad attack surface. Role-based training for them may concentrate on secure coding practices, while employees in non-technical roles may receive training on secure password management and email best practices.

Role-based training acknowledges the intricate interplay between department, seniority, and attack surface, ensuring that employees are equipped to defend against the specific cyber risks and threats they face. It fosters asecurity-awareness culture that empowers individuals to take proactive measures to protect the organisation's digital assets.

Targeted Training: Precision in Cyber Defense

For organisations of all sizes, proactively identifying and addressing vulnerabilities and risky behaviours is foundational to robust cybersecurity. Through detailed cybersecurity assessments, targeted training hones in on potential security gaps, effectively addressing lax behaviours and strengthening an organisation's security stance.

Identifying Security Gaps Through Assessment

Effective cyber security begins with a keen understanding of an organisation's current state. Cybersecurity assessments methodically review an organisation's technological infrastructure, data handling procedures and the cyber awareness of its employees. These evaluations use various approaches, such as behaviour assessments and compliance audits, to pinpoint vulnerabilities and weak spots.

Imagine a medium-sized financial institution seeking to bolster its cyber security defences. By conducting comprehensive assessments, they uncover that a handful of employees access corporate emails on personal devices due to a lack of training, which could be exploited by malicious actors. Targeted training is then initiated to address these specific issues, ensuring that employees receive training focused on secure device practices and the latest security threats relevant to the unsafe behaviours they have displayed.

Countering Casual Security Oversights

Lax behaviours within an organisation can range from casual password-sharing practices to a lack of awareness about social engineering tactics. These behaviours can inadvertently open doors to cyber threats. Targeted training not only identifies these behaviours but also provides tailored solutions to mitigate them.

For example, if evaluations show that a significant portion of the staff is susceptible to phishing due to unawareness, targeted modules can focus on detecting and responding to such attempts. By using real-life scenarios from the organisation, the training becomes more engaging and relatable. Additionally, this training may include real-world phishing attack simulations, providing hands-on experience in identifying and reporting these incidents.

Tailored Training for Specific Weaknesses

Once security gaps and lax behaviours are identified, the next step is to design training modules that precisely address these issues. These modules should be tailored to cater to the specific needs of various departments, job roles, and seniority levels within the organisation.

For instance, a finance department may require training on securing financial transactions and sensitive customer data. Whereas an IT department may need guidance on configuring cloud networks and patch management. Role-based training can then be implemented to provide employees with the skills and knowledge essential to their responsibilities.

Sustaining Cybersecurity Vigilance

It is important to recognise that cyber security is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 employees say their organisation’s training is out of date and has not caught up to current and emerging threats. Security assessments should be regularly conducted to adapt to the ever-changing threat landscape, ensuring that new vulnerabilities are swiftly identified and addressed through targeted training.

The proactive approach of targeted training based on cyber security and awareness assessments not only helps organisations identify and mitigate vulnerabilities but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement in cyber security practices. By addressing security gaps and lax behaviours with precision, organisations can significantly enhance their resilience to cyber threats and safeguard their critical assets.

Cyber Security Training and Awareness Behaviour Models

Effective cyber security training extends beyond the mere transmission of information. It demands a deep understanding of how employees learn, stay motivated, and, more importantly, adopt and apply secure practices in their daily roles.

This section explores how these behavioural science models can be applied to enhance training effectiveness:

ARCS Model of Motivation

The ARCS model, comprising Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction, provides a structured framework for understanding and enhancing learner motivation. This model underscores the importance of capturing learners' attention, making the content relevant to their roles, boosting their confidence, and ensuring they derive satisfaction from the training experience.

In role-based training, capturing learners' attention could involve real-world scenarios specific to their job roles, while relevance can be ensured by addressing their daily challenges. Building confidence is achieved through interactive simulations, and satisfaction may come from recognising their progress and accomplishments during the training.

COM-B Model

The COM-B model stands for Capability, Opportunity, and Motivation. This model emphasises the need to enhance learners' capabilities, create opportunities for behaviour change, and motivate them to adopt secure practices.

In role-based training, enhancing capability could mean providing employees with the specific skills and knowledge necessary for their roles, while creating opportunities involves aligning the training with their job responsibilities. Motivation can be achieved by illustrating the personal and organisational benefits of cyber security practices.

The Bandura Effect

The Bandura Effect, rooted in social learning theory, highlights the role of observational learning. Some individuals respond and learn from watching others, especially if they can relate to the person modelling the behaviour. Role-based security training can incorporate interactive activities and webinars where scenarios are simulated and observed, rather than read and ingested.

The Spacing Effect:

The spacing effect is a cognitive psychology principle that suggests that information is better retained when learning is distributed over time. It underscores the importance of reinforcing training at intervals to improve retention. In role-based and targeted training, periodic refreshers and follow-up sessions can be integrated to reinforce key concepts and behaviours. For instance, quarterly reminders for specific security practices relevant to particular roles can help maintain awareness and retention.

The Kirkpatrick Model

The Kirkpatrick Model assesses training effectiveness through four levels: Reaction, Learning, Behaviour, and Results. It serves as a valuable framework for evaluating the impact of training on behaviour change and organisational outcomes. In role-based training, organisations can use this model to track the progression of employees from simply reacting to the training to demonstrating behaviour change, thereby measuring the training's real-world impact.

The Fogg Behaviour Model

The Fogg Behaviour Model outlines the factors that drive behaviour change: Motivation, Ability, and Triggers. It suggests that for a behaviour to occur, it must align with all three elements. In targeted training, identifying the right triggers, enhancing ability, and bolstering motivation are essential. Tailored training content must encompass these three aspects, encouraging desired security behaviours.

The ABC Model

The ABC Model, consisting of Antecedents, Behaviour, and Consequences, helps in understanding and modifying behaviour. It identifies the triggers (antecedents), the behaviour itself, and the outcomes (consequences) related to that behaviour. Role-based training can focus on altering antecedents, so employees respond differently to security threats. By demonstrating the potential consequences of risky behaviours and illustrating the benefits of secure practices, organisations can drive behaviour change.

The Phillips Model for Training Evaluation

This model evaluates training effectiveness in terms of Return on Investment (ROI), emphasising the importance of assessing the value of training initiatives. In role-based training, organisations can use the Phillips Model to measure not only the cost-effectiveness of training but also its impact on reducing security incidents and potential financial losses.

Incorporating these behavioural science models into role-based and targeted cybersecurity training and awareness not only enhances the learning experience but also increases the likelihood that employees will internalise and apply the security practices relevant to their specific roles.

The Benefits of Role-Based and Targeted Training and Awareness

By focusing on these tailored approaches, organisations can unlock a multitude of benefits that extend beyond traditional one-size-fits-all training methods.

Let us delve into these advantages and explore how they contribute to a more resilient and secure organisational environment.

Increased Engagement

Role-based and targeted training captures the attention and interest of employees by addressing their specific job responsibilities and challenges. 95% of employees say training programs have a positive effect on their engagement when well-planned. This tailored approach increases engagement significantly, as employees are more likely to connect with content that is directly relevant to their roles. Engaged employees are more receptive to learning and are more likely to retain and apply the knowledge gained.

Better ROI of Time and Resources

Tailoring training content to meet the unique needs of distinct roles and departments ensures that time and resources are efficiently allocated. Training programs that address specific vulnerabilities and behaviours are more cost-effective and yield a higher return on investment. Organisations can reduce spending on unnecessary training redundancy, whilst lowering overall training costs and time expenditure.

Improved Security Culture

Role-based and targeted training initiatives actively contribute to the development of a robust security culture within the organisation. When employees understand that cyber security practices are tailored to their specific roles, they are more likely to perceive security as a shared responsibility. This, in turn, fosters a culture of vigilance, responsibility, and collective awareness.

Demonstrates Organisational Value

When an organisation invests in role-based and targeted cybersecurity training, it sends a clear message to its employees: "We value your contribution and well-being." This acknowledgement enhances employee morale and loyalty. Lorman data reveals that 45% of workers would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development and 68% of employees say training and development are the most important company policy. Employees who feel supported and valued are more likely to be invested in the success of the organisation, including its cyber security efforts. You can also expect higher employee retention rates and strengthened organisational commitment and loyalty.

Use of Relatable and Engaging Examples and Scenarios

By presenting real-world situations specific to each role, employees can connect with the training content on a personal level. These relatable scenarios make the training more memorable and applicable increasing comprehension and retention of security principles.

Enhanced Regulatory Compliance

Role-based and targeted training ensures that employees are educated about and adhere to industry-specific regulations and compliance standards. This, in turn, minimises the risk of regulatory violations and potential legal repercussions, whilst enhancing reputation and trust among stakeholders.

Mitigation of Insider Threats

By promoting a culture of responsible reporting and awareness, employees are better equipped to recognise and respond to potential internal threats.

Assessing Your Security Culture: The Path to A Resilient Organisation

Assessing the security culture within your organisation is a vital step in fortifying your defences against cyber threats. It is an integral part of understanding how well your employees embrace and apply cybersecurity principles. By effectively evaluating your security culture, you can pinpoint lax behaviours, identify vulnerable departments, and recognise potential cyber risks.

The Security Awareness and Behaviour Research (SABR) tool offers a comprehensive and structured approach to assessing your security culture. This tool stands out for its ability to produce high-quality quantitative data, providing a solid foundation for shaping future awareness and training campaigns.

Assessing your security culture is an essential step in building a resilient organisation. By employing tools like TSC's SABR, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your organisation's security strengths and weaknesses. This, in turn, allows you to develop highly effective and targeted strategies for improving your security culture, reducing risks, and safeguarding your organisation's digital assets.

At The Security Company, we specialise in boosting cyber awareness, targeted training, customised projects and role-based solutions. Through our tailored subscription services, targeted and customised eLearning and awareness materials and our behavioural assessments, we're committed to helping organisations like yours instil long-term, security-conscious behaviours.

Our method is distinct. We begin by diving deep into your team's current mindset, pinpointing lax behaviours, security gaps and departments in need of focus and attention. From there, we craft tailored solutions that encourage better cyber practices from your employees. With comprehensive training and seamless integration into your current systems, we're here to fortify your team against modern cyber threats and be your trusted cyber security and awareness partner.

Ready to take the next step?

We can help you to formulate an effective and comprehensive cyber security training and awareness program for your organisation.

Do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

Written by
Nas Ali
Cyber security and awareness content creator focused on emerging threats and the next wave of cyber security risks like AI, deepfakes and tech 4.0 initiatives in order to build towards a more secure organisational culture.
View Profile

See how we can help you protect your organisation today?

Circle 01
Circle 02
Circle 03

Join our mailing list

Subscribe to the TSC newsletter to receive exclusive news and advice