The best security posture in the world will get you only so far, because the reality is that one employee clicking on a bad link or file can still wreak havoc, if not jeopardize your business.
Enter employee cybersecurity training, also known as Security Awareness Computer-Based Training. Security awareness training done right can greatly reduce the risk that an employee will click on a malicious link or file and can also give you a way to effectively measure and improve employee responses to potential cybersecurity threats.
Awareness training services go beyond telling employees what to do by reinforcing best practices and helping security administrators detect new and emerging threats.
In this buying guide, we’ll introduce you to the top cybersecurity training programs and offer guidance on how to select one.
Key features of cybersecurity employee training programs
There are a number of key capabilities that the top cybersecurity employee training programs support.
- Simulated attacks: A primary feature of many platforms is the ability to simulate a phishing email attack to gauge responses and teach users what they should do
- Reporting: The best platforms all have robust reporting mechanisms that measure progress and set overall goals for security awareness
- Incident response: Moving beyond just training, some platforms also integrate incident response capabilities for users to report potential attacks and to enable security professionals to investigate
How to choose a cybersecurity training solution
When choosing a training service, there are several key considerations:
- Scope: What are the risks that the organization is looking to help educate users about and does the solution cover those areas?
- Cost: Is the solution something that scales to cover all employees while remaining cost-effective?
- Customizability: New threats emerge all the time and many organizations have very specific needs. The ability to customize training is a key requirement.
Top security awareness computer-based training services
Here are our picks for the top security awareness computer-based training services.
- Barracuda Networks PhishLine
- Cofense (PhishMe)
- Proofpoint (formerly Wombat)
- Webroot (OpenText)
Value proposition for potential buyers: Barracuda Networks PhishLine is a good option for organizations looking to improve awareness and best practices for multiple types of phishing attacks.
- Barracuda Networks acquired PhishLine in 2018 to expand its email protection capabilities
- The PhishLine platform provides simulations to help train users about email phishing as well as voice (Vishing) and SMS (Smishing) attacks
- The platform includes a built-in library of common templates for email as well as customization options
- Metrics are a key part of PhishLine, with a full analytics system to help administrators track how users are progressing and identifying users that might need more help
Read user reviews of Barracuda Networks PhishLine
Value proposition for potential buyers: Cofense has a suite of products and services to help organizations of any size improve employee awareness about security issues, as well as enabling threat hunting and incident response for administrators.
- Cofense was known as PhishMe until 2018, when the company was acquired for $400 million by a private equity consortium; PhishMe is the product name for the Cofense employee training tool
- Threat simulation from Cofense Labs provides intelligence on the latest threats
- A key differentiator is the SEG Misses feature, which specifically tests users with potential threats that are able to bypass a Secure Email Gateway (SEG)
Read user reviews of Cofense
Value proposition for potential buyers: Hoxhunt provides a gamified phishing training platform that educates users by rewarding them when they accurately identify phishing threats.
- A key differentiator for Hoxhunt is the high degree of personalization that enables individual learning paths for users
- Hoxhunt helps users both learn and report when potential new phishing threats hit their inbox
- The reporting dashboard gives management a way to track progress on both education and reporting of real attacks
Value proposition for potential buyers: Market leader KnowBe4 has a wide array of options for helping organizations improve security, including the Kevin Mitnick Security Awareness Training programs and the PhishER incident response offering.
- A key differentiator for KnowBe4 is the company’s growing library of security awareness content available through its ModStore for modules, and its ability to test preparedness for risks such as ransomware, domain spoofing, password strength and more
- Training includes automated phishing as well as video and game content to engage users through a variety of means
- The risk scoring feature is another key attribute of the platform, providing administrators with views into individual employees and overall organizational risk to phishing
- The PhishER service adds advanced incident response features that can be enabled via a Phish Alert Button that users click
Read user reviews of KnowBe4
Value proposition for potential buyers: Lucy provides awareness training and attack simulation capabilities to proactively help organizations improve cybersecurity.
- A key differentiator for Lucy is its reputation based e-learning approach that measures awareness and ability and then provides training to match
- The system is highly customizable so administrators can author new content as needed to test and improve employee cybersecurity awareness
- Another key attribute is Lucy’s SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model), which enables learning to be shared with other employee training systems
Value proposition for potential buyers: PhishLabs is a good option for organizations of all sizes looking for simulations and tools to improve awareness of risks across different attack vectors, including email and social media phishing.
- A key differentiator for PhishLabs is the ability to help employees avoid risks across email, web and social media
- Phishing simulations can be very targeted to educate users about spear phishing attacks
- PhishLabs also has screensavers and best practice templates that can reinforce learning
Read user reviews of PhishLabs
Value proposition for potential buyers: Proofpoint security awareness training offers a good option for organizations looking for training alongside integrated response capabilities.
- Proofpoint acquired Wombat Security in 2018 and has since rebranded the portfolio of security awareness capabilities
- A key differentiator is the ThreatSIM approach that aims to simulate real world threats that match user vulnerabilities
- The Attack Spotlight capability in Proofpoint is all about providing awareness content to help educate users on what not to do
- The Proofpoint CLEAR (Closed Loop Email Analysis and Response) is another strong feature, bringing an approach that lets users report on risks so they can become actionable by administrators
Read user reviews of Proofpoint
Value proposition for potential buyers: Securementum stands out as a good choice for organizations looking for a consultative approach for enabling a security awareness as a service program.
- A key differentiator for Securementum is the hands-on customized approach that begins with an initial review of an organization’s current cybersecurity awareness status
- Core plans start with a 90-day strategy that defines metrics and success criteria
- Going beyond just training, Securementum has incident response capabilities to help organizations remediate the impact of a phishing attack
Value proposition for potential buyers: Webroot provides a course-based approach to help organizations of all sizes improve cybersecurity awareness, plus a phishing simulator for testing readiness.
- Webroot was acquired by Canadian enterprise application vendor OpenText in December 2019, an intriguing fit for the information management company
- Awareness training courses are interactive and customizable to help organization improve regulatory compliance
- Beyond just courses, Webroot also provides a phishing simulator to test user responses to virtual attacks
Read user reviews of Webroot