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How gamification can reduce human error in cybersecurity

Over the last few years, there have been an increasing number of data breaches, and unfortunately, 2022 has seen a vast amount of sensitive information being stolen. This year, data breaches have affected organizations of all sizes and sectors, costing American businesses millions in damages and recovery. 

Human error is still very much the major cause of most cybersecurity problems experienced by businesses around the world. Research shows almost 90% of all data breaches can be found to originate from an employee mistake. 

While most employees don’t set out to cause harm to their employer, many of them unwittingly do—through bad password habits, unrestrained web browsing, or opening and participating with malicious emails. As a consequence, employees (and hence their employer) may rapidly be subject to social engineering or phishing attacks, or even worse. 

Cybercrime is only going to become increasingly more of a problem for businesses in the future, as cybercriminals utilize sophisticated tools and strategies to maximize their attempts to steal or access data. For many organizations, technology is moving more rapidly than their ability to keep their data and business secure, which makes robust cybersecurity education one of the most critical aspects of security defense to get right. One approach that is being utilized to boost employee cybersecurity awareness is gamification. 

What is the aim of security awareness training?

Simply put, security awareness training solutions should meet three key objectives:

  1. Motivate behavior change in employees and contractors by delivering engaging, relevant content that includes industry and role-based resources
  2. Empower all employees across the organization to detect and report social engineering and phishing attacks, through the use of phishing simulations to teach employees how to avoid phishing threats
  3. Track employee compliance to assess security risk and determine the success of training, to identify behavioral trends and any individuals that need further training.   

What is cybersecurity gamification?

Companies are already employing gamification to assist with customer onboarding and engagement, but now they are seeing the advantages it can provide for company-wide cybersecurity training. By incorporating game mechanics and thought into problem-solving and motivating people by incentivizing them with competition and rewards, gamification motivates people to learn and retain knowledge. This framework of understanding the risks of cybersecurity creates a robust security culture within your company and decreases the likelihood your employees will engage in risky behavior or are likely to report suspicious activities.

According to research, over 80% of people were more motivated when interacting with gamified learning. This feature alone improves the mindset of employees who need to undertake security awareness training programs and improves the information security posture for businesses. 

Benefits of gamification in cybersecurity awareness programs

Increased participation

Gamification in cybersecurity awareness training programs makes it entertaining, competitive, and enjoyable. It can also be set up in any office or remote environment, making it accessible and more likely to be completed. Without being aware of it, employees can learn a lot through training modules that are similar to video games. 

An employee who enjoys the cyber security awareness course is more likely to complete it and look forward to the next one. By incentivizing certain actions through appeals to their competitive natures, gamification is an effective means of ensuring employee participation in security awareness programs. 

Enhanced engagement

The majority of cybersecurity awareness programs use the same old tired formula, beginning with an introductory segment, then a teaching portion, and finally a test to see if the employees have learned the material. If they are only offered annual training, then the dryness of the material and lack of hands-on practical experience will increase their lack of interest. 

To learn something and retain the knowledge, employees must be engaged. Engagement comes from being interested in the topic and feeling connected to the learning process. Games have been shown to improve engagement, which in turn improves learning.

Facilitate behavior change

Many employees are not able to see that cyber threats are happening all the time and can and will happen to them at some point. Learning that is engaging and enjoyable allows employees to visualize how they can use the information in a real-world situation and they will integrate the learning into their daily routines. Training with gamification enables users to become far more engaged with the content by receiving feedback loops in the form of points, or rewards, which leads to improved internalization of ideas and positive behavioral changes in the long term. 

Employee security awareness training with the experts

The overwhelming majority of cyber-attacks impact small and medium-sized organizations. 60% of small businesses fold within six months of a data breach or ransomware attack. The advantages of gamification as part of security awareness training for organizations are crystal clear. 

ThreatAdvice Cybersecurity Education is a valuable component of the ThreatAdvice Breach Prevention Platform and includes video-based courses, testing, gamification, phishing simulations, and tracking employee progress throughout the training to spot any security weaknesses. Talk to ThreatAdvice today and leverage gamification as part of your security training.