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Top 5 Challenges Faced in Security Awareness Training

Archana Dasa

Proper security awareness training is crucial to safeguarding company and client data. Employees should be well-educated about the importance of data security and how to protect sensitive information. Cyber awareness programs covering key topics like email security, intellectual property protection, handling security incidents and so on should be prioritized.


However, issues like administrative difficulties or poor employee interests may impair the ease of running training programs. Whether you’re running a physical or digital workplace, knowing how to deal with such challenges will help you to successfully stay ahead of cyber threats.


Keep reading as we dive into the five most significant security awareness program challenges. We’ll also look into some ways to tackle them.


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1. Difficulty engaging employees from the get-go


Piquing employees’ interest enough for them to attend cyber security awareness training sessions can be difficult. No one wants to get stuck listening to lectures about complex security concepts, after all.


How can you get your employees’ attention then? Show them your training sessions are fun. Promote your training by highlighting its unique and engaging features.


For instance, in your emails urging employees to attend, highlight that your training doesn’t involve the use of traditional delivery methods that see instructors merely lecturing their audience. Instead, say it leverages interactive videos, for example, that show employees real-life examples of security risks and how to handle them.


You can give them a glimpse of these videos that incorporate humor, suspense, or other storytelling techniques. Post your teasers on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram then include their links in your emails. This can also be a great way to generate Tiktok likes, Facebook shares, and Instagram comments for your brand.


You can also announce your training sessions have one or more of the following to get employees interested in your sessions:


  • Trivia or quizzes - Your cybersecurity trivia or quiz game should be fun while prompting users (employees) to answer some questions about cybersecurity.
  • Cybersecurity simulations - Platforms like Kaspersky and Onebonsai allow you to create virtual reality simulations that employees can use to practice handling security threats like malware infections or phishing attacks.
  • Leaderboards and progress bars - If you’re using a learning management platform (LMS), you can set up leaderboards and progress bars that allow employees to track their course completion rates and see how their teammates are doing.
  • Rewards to employees - Bonuses, paid vacations, or shopping vouchers are good incentives for people who finish the training.


These final four strategies above bank on people’s inherent competitive spirit and love for games and rewards. They can also be effective ways to get people to attend and learn about the importance of maintaining a strong security posture.


2. Content relevancy challenge


Here’s another significant challenge you can face when it comes to security awareness training: how to keep your content updated and relevant.


You want to ensure that your employee awareness training aligns with their specific needs and contexts of use from the get-go. For instance, to an accountant, you could explain how a financial data breach could lead to lost revenue or legal fees for the organization. With a sales agent, on the other hand, you may explain how your corporate phone number or business email address may be exposed to hackers if necessary security measures are ignored.


Note, though, that cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving. As a result, employees may not be armed with the necessary information or resources for handling some cybersecurity incidents even after previously undergoing training. For instance, Cofence acknowledges that advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms can create new security threats for organizations.


So, how do you ensure you also address these new security awareness program challenges?


Implement a continuous training program. For instance, employees may be expected to retake an updated training course after a while, say 3-6 months. This way, it's easier to keep them aware of new threats to look out for.


Also, update your training materials on an ongoing basis—it’ll help you address new threats and best practices in preventing cybersecurity attacks.


Don’t forget to follow cybersecurity experts and subscribe to updates so that you know what’s new. Google Alerts can help you here. You can set up notifications about new information on cybersecurity or phishing attempts. This way, you’ll know about rising threats early enough to prepare more relevant resources for your workforce.


Consider segmenting your employees into various groups based on their roles, responsibilities, or awareness levels as well. With this, you’ll be able to deliver more relevant and targeted training to each group.


As a final tip, conduct surveys with tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. The focus of these surveys should be understanding how relevant the training material was to the participants.


3. Management overwhelming for administrators


Managing security awareness training programs involves a lot of activities like user management, course selections, reminders, and performance tracking. These can be quite burdensome for administrators.


To make the training implementation less overwhelming, use learning management platforms to automate some administrative tasks like sending notifications, tracking progress, and delivering course materials. Your administrative staff will only need to run the initial setup and configurations, and then everything else will be a breeze. Thankfully, these platforms also come with support staff that can help you set up with ease.


Course curation can also be a time-consuming task for security awareness professionals. But there’s good news! You can put generative AI tools to work here. You only need to present specific prompts about the type of material you want to create and you’ll have decent content to use. This works if you’re creating content for a video script or even a training manual for your team.


4. Decline in employee interest


We mentioned a while ago that security awareness training programs should be done on a continuous basis. In other words, your job doesn’t end after engaging your employees the first time around. You’ll need to sustain their interest as well.


The good news is, you can avoid a decline in employee interest. Aside from actually implementing the strategies mentioned in Tip No. 1, don’t make your training delivery redundant, repetitive, and uncreative. Also, don’t implement strict training schedules that might overwhelm your employees.


To sustain your employees’ interest, you should also split the entire program into shorter training modules they can complete within a few minutes. Present new concepts using real-life examples your employees can relate to as they progress through the training program.


As a final tip to address a potential decline in employee interest, you want to have a training process that’s flexible and accommodating. Give room for employees to personalize their learning schedules. It may help to reduce the pressure on them and potentially keep them interested in completing the courses


5. Employee tendency to lose acquired knowledge


The goal of security awareness training isn’t just about getting employees to learn the information provided. It’s also about getting them to remember the acquired knowledge. German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus is well known for his “forgetting curve” theory which suggests that people may forget up to 75% of what they learn after a day or two.


Some reasons why employees may not recall acquired knowledge include:


  • The learning material was poorly presented
  • There was an interference in the learning process
  • The learner did not understand what was being taught


So, how do you ensure that employees retain the acquired cyber security knowledge after a thorough security training program?


Always break down complex terms during your training sessions. Avoid jargon that may be hard to follow. Instead, use plain and simple English.


Additionally, create a conducive learning environment (both virtual and physical) for your employees. When choosing a hosting platform for your resources, go for one that’s easy to navigate.. For physical work environments, ensure that employees have access to distraction-free spaces where they can take the training. You want to remove any possible disruptions to the learning process.


Another way to help employees retain the acquired information would be to consistently remind them about these learned security practices even after the training program. For instance, you can share short email snippets to remind your employees about specific security measures like using strong passwords and secure browsers. An enterprise generative AI platform can help you create these emails if you don’t have the time to write.




Data breaches and weak security systems can cost you a lot of money. While installing the right software is a reasonable step, it’s also crucial that you train your employees on basic and advanced security measures. This doesn’t come without some hurdles.


Potential security awareness program challenges to watch out for include difficult employee engagement from the get-go, content relevancy, administrative overwhelm, declined employee interest, and loss of acquired knowledge.


Some ways to address these challenges include using interactive content, virtual simulations, trivia, quizzes, automation, and continuous implementation.


By putting these measures in place, you can create an enjoyable and less challenging security training program for your employees and administrators. Good luck!

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