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Building a Robust Security Awareness and Culture Program: An 11-Step Method for Mitigating Cybersecurity Risks

April 18, 2023  | By: Stephen Boals

Using Behavioral Science and Personality-Based Techniques to Strengthen Your Organization’s Cybersecurity Posture

In today’s digital world, organizations face increasing cybersecurity risks, with human error being a significant factor in data breaches. A robust security awareness and culture program is essential for mitigating these risks and protecting your organization’s valuable assets. In this blog post, we will explore an 11-step method to build and enhance your security awareness and culture program using behavioral science and personality-based techniques.

Step 1: Assess Your Current Program

Begin by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your existing security awareness program. Identify areas that require improvement or additional resources to ensure the effectiveness of your new program.  Are you addressing high risk areas such as Executive and EA cybersecurity training and phishing remediation?

Step 2: Define Clear Goals and Objectives

Establish the desired outcomes and success metrics for your security awareness and culture program, ensuring that they align with your organization’s overall objectives and risk management strategy.  Common goals are the reduction of phishing failure rates and high-performance marks on incident response simulations involving users and attack reporting.

Step 3: Research Potential Vendors

There are quite a few vendors in the cybersecurity awareness education and training market.  Investigate various security awareness vendors, considering their expertise, reputation, and experience in using behavioral science and personality-based methods to deliver effective training.

Step 4: Choose the Right Vendor

Select a vendor that specializes in behavioral science and personality-based training methods.  Many claim they leverage these techniques, but most do not have patented methodologies with proven and repeatable outcomes.   Ensure they offer personalized, customizable and engaging content tailored to your organization’s needs and requirements.

Step 5: Develop Security Policies and Incorporate Policy Acceptance

Collaborate with your chosen vendor to create comprehensive, easy-to-understand policies that cover key security areas and reflect your organization’s unique requirements. Ensure that employees acknowledge and accept the established security policies by implementing a policy acceptance process, such as requiring employees to sign a digital agreement or attend a mandatory training session.

Step 6: Create Engaging Training Content

Work with your vendor to develop training modules that address various topics and incorporate behavioral science and personality-based techniques. This approach maximizes effectiveness and knowledge retention among employees.

Step 7: Implement a Multi-Faceted Communication Strategy

Utilize multiple communication channels, such as newsletters, intranet posts, and town hall meetings, to keep employees informed and engaged in security awareness initiatives.

Step 8: Encourage Employee Involvement and Ownership

Encourage a sense of personal responsibility for cybersecurity among employees by providing opportunities for participation in security-related activities and emphasizing the importance of individual contributions to overall security.

Step 9: Foster a Culture of Security and Compliance

Foster a culture of security within your organization by encouraging employees to take ownership of their role in cybersecurity. This can include establishing a security champion program and providing incentives for good security practices.

Step 10: Monitor Progress and Continuously Improve

Track key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge program success, and conduct regular assessments, such as phishing simulations and knowledge quizzes, to evaluate employee awareness and behavior. Collaborate with your vendor to solicit employee feedback, identify areas for improvement, and stay abreast of emerging threats and industry best practices to ensure program relevancy and effectiveness.

Step 11: Adapt Program to Emerging Threats and Industry Best Practices

Check and validate Standards Compliance.  Monitor standards for your specific industry, or general recommendations for security awareness training. Monitoring sites like NIST, CIS, CISA and ISO for changing standards can help you keep your curriculum up-to-date.


Following this 11-step method will help you build and enhance your organization’s security awareness and culture program. By incorporating behavioral science and personality-based techniques, you can create a successful program that nurtures a security-conscious culture and strengthens your organization’s cybersecurity posture.

For more information on improving your existing security awareness programs, lowering your human risk, and creating a cybersecurity cultural framework, contact us today.