The large-scale shift to distributed work came with significant consequences from a cyber security perspective.
Cyber crime saw a 600% increase in 2020. Distributed work increased the average cost of a data breach by $137,000. Businesses had to contend with exponentially larger threat surfaces as criminals began targeting home networks and videoconferencing services.
Suffice it to say, the past two years have been grim for security. And though some experts have predicted that 2022 will be the year we finally get a handle on things, that means little for businesses that do not have an effective cyber security training program in place. Because although the world has changed a great deal since 2019, human error is still responsible for the vast majority of security breaches.
Cyber security training labs are the answer to this problem — here are seven reasons your organization should already be using them.
There was a time when data governance and asset management were the sole domain of the IT department. Today’s landscape is defined by decentralization, from the cloud to the Internet of Things to distributed work. In this environment, a walled fortress approach to cyber security — where a small group of professionals are the sole arbiters of systems and data — is infeasible at best.
Security is now everyone’s responsibility, which means your security team must brainstorm a way to communicate the core concepts and principles to the entire organization. Cyber security simulation training offers a compelling means to achieve this. Rather than having to struggle through frustrating jargon and nebulous descriptions, employees can experience things firsthand.
Security awareness training has gained a (not entirely undeserved) reputation as boring and ineffective. The problem lies in the approach. Too often, security training professionals fall into one of the following traps:
How does hands on cyber security training address the points above, though?
“In the real world, some things can’t be learned by watching another individual do a task or have it explained,” reads a piece published in Forbes Magazine. “It actually takes performing the task in a safe, protected environment to learn how to do it right.”
There are certain subjects best learned through passive study. Some learners prefer hands-off training. However, as a whole, hands-on training is considerably more effective.
This is especially true with cyber security training. An understanding of the basic concepts is not enough for a training program to be effective. Trainees must also be encouraged to develop practical skills, which cannot effectively be learned through non-interactive materials.
Cyber security practice labs, on the other hand, provide trainees with an environment in which they can acquire, practice, and reinforce the core competencies necessary to keep corporate assets — and their own data — safe.
“To be blunt, many employees don’t care about your company’s cybersecurity. To them, that’s IT’s job — theirs is to focus on what you hired them to do. They’re not interested in learning about or upholding your security because they’re not invested in it.” — Living Security Blog.
We’ve already touched on the fact that most security training programs fail due to a lack of engagement. Security simulations are crucial to addressing this, and not just because hands-on training promotes more effective learning. They can also help you to gamify your security training, up to and introducing a bit of friendly competition to your trainees.
You might be surprised at just how effective a simple leaderboard can be at motivating trainees to care more about your business’s security posture. And that motivation is one of the foundational elements of promoting a culture of cyber security within your business.
The benefits of hands-on cybersecurity training extend far beyond educating the general workforce. Simulated environments allow businesses to practice, test, and refine their incident response plan for a range of different scenarios. The more realistic your virtual simulations, the better-equipped everyone within your organization will be if and when they encounter the real deal.
More importantly, such simulations can also help your business identify problems in its incident response plan prior to an incident.
For security teams themselves, hands-on training can also be invaluable. It can help security teams effectively make the shift from security to resilience. It can also equip your business with certification courses for professionals that want to improve their knowledge and skills.
Finally, because the training can be automated, it allows even lean security teams to promote widespread organizational awareness.
Hands-on cyber security training platforms equip your instructors with a valuable set of metrics for tracking learners as they proceed through each phase of their training, which is beneficial for several reasons:
This goes both ways, as well. Just as instructors can glean a great deal from metrics and course tracking, simulated training environments can provide learners with immediate,actionable feedback on what they’re doing wrong and how they might improve. This, in turn, allows them to learn from their mistakes and improve their overall approach.
Training isn’t the only value a virtual lab offers your organization. Just as these labs can be used to give trainees an environment in which to practice their skills, they also equip your security team with a simulated version of your ecosystem. In other words, your security professionals have a virtual testing environment in which they can run whatever simulations they deem necessary — without putting your business’s infrastructure or assets at risk.
There’s a wide range of use cases to which this can be applied:
Better yet, because these virtual labs do not rely on specific physical infrastructure, they can also be spun up without putting too much of a strain on your business’s resources.
With virtual training software, your organization can accurately replicate its entire IT setup, providing step-by-step guidance and hands-on experience to contextualize the lessons taught by your training.
It also allows employees to gain hands-on experience with your systems and tools. Finally, software simulations allow your business to practice its response to and prepare for real-world cyberattacks.
The benefits of this approach include:
Modern businesses face an unprecedented threat landscape. Cyber criminals are more numerous, more sophisticated, and more persistent. In order to keep pace, businesses need to change how they approach security awareness training.
Passive learning is no longer sufficient. Instead, instructors need to promote engagement, understanding, and the development of practical skills through a hands-on approach. Cyber security training labs are the foundation of that approach, providing not just more engaging learning, but also deeper insights.
In short, simulation is the future of security training — and it’s time for you to embrace it.