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Gimmicks and Bribes in Awareness Training

By Vigilize | Monday, March 12, 2018 - Leave a Comment

Motivating employees toward awareness can take more than prizes and prodding…


An article review.


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Keeping your employees on top of security related issues can sometimes seem to be a daunting task, and it’s not something that can ever be considered finished: it’s an ongoing process much like the threats themselves. Considering that, it’s not surprising that many have turned to special incentive programs to try to motivate employees–but as an article submitted by our friend Wes Pollard of Home Bank describes, that tactic may not always be effective.

The problems with offering a prize such as a cash reward for those with the fewest security-related incidents, according to Elevate Security co-founder Masha Sedova, is that such prizes are rarely enticing enough to make employees care. Additionally, those who feel they are unlikely to win may not be motivated at all.

Sedova goes on to recommend against the public shaming of employees with security issues, which she believes can be highly demotivating…though she does admit that such tactics can be effective against the “last ten percent” of employees she feels are particularly resistant to security related policies.

As for what does help employees, Sedova thinks keeping things simple for them is best: she cites an example from Facebook where a button was added to an internal email client giving users the ability to instantly flag a suspicious message. The downside? Employees erred on the side of caution, submitting many “false positives” that security staff had to sort through.

While on the subject of Facebook, the article closes by mentioning an internal study that found its users were even more concerned with the security of friends and family members’ accounts than they were with their own. This suggests that there is promise in making security awareness “viral,” with people taking the initiative to warn and instruct others themselves. A balance must be struck however, as too many warnings can make employees and home users alike “tune out” completely.


Original article by Iain Thomson writing for The Register.


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