Best Cybersecurity Awareness Training for Employees in 2021

Employee cybersecurity training has come a long way in the last few years. Back in the day, security training was largely reserved for IT security specialists and then extended to include IT personnel in general. These days, all employees need to be well educated in security best practices and good habits if the organization wishes to steer clear of ransomware and malware.

Security awareness training for employees has come into its own of late. It’s a symptom of success when Gartner launches a brand new Magic Quadrant (MQ) category, and that has happened to this area of IT in the last couple of years. Another success indicator is that the biggest company in the field and the leader in the Gartner MQ – KnowBe4 – achieved Unicorn status (worth a billion dollars) and went public. As a result, the field of security training is a hotbed of startups and competitors keen to muscle in on the action.

The current focus of most security awareness training initiatives is on phishing – and with good reason. Phishing is responsible for the bulk of breaches. Users get hoodwinked into clicking on a malicious attachment or URL and this inadvertently lets the bad guys in. Cybercriminals have gotten very clever about how they achieve this – posing as emails from trusted vendors, government agencies, or even from email addresses within the company, a deceptive practice known as spoofing. They fashion subject lines designed to gain attention and be opened. It takes discipline to think before clicking on an urgent link from your CEO. Thus the goal of training is to educate users so they are far less likely to fall prey to the various ploys from the hacking fraternity.

Here are our picks for the best cybersecurity training tools, followed by a discussion of product features and buying considerations.

Top Cybersecurity Training Tools for Employees

1 NINJIO Cybersecurity Awareness Training

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NINJIO is a cybersecurity awareness training and simulated phishing services company that empowers individuals and organizations to become defenders against cyberthreats. The company creates 3 to 4-minute, Hollywood style micro-learning videos that teach organizations, employees, and families how not to get hacked.

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2 ESET® Cybersecurity Awareness Training

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ESET Cybersecurity Awareness Training is specifically designed to educate your workforce—because employees who recognize phishing, avoid online scams and understand internet best practices add a vital layer of protection for your business.

Developed by ESET researchers and educators, this comprehensive online course takes under 90 minutes to complete. Employees enjoy an engaging learning experience through gamified quizzes, interactive sessions and role playing.

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3 KnowBe4

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KnowBe4 provides Security Awareness Training to help you manage the IT security problems of social engineering, spear phishing and ransomware attacks. KnowBe4 is your platform for new-school security awareness training. They help you keep your users on their toes with security top of mind. With this integrated platform you can train and phish your users, see their Phish-prone percentage™ improve over time and get measurable results.

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4 Cofense

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Cofense PhishMe takes a broader view than staff education. As well as training, it catches the phishing emails that bypass email gateways. It rapidly detects, analyzes, and auto quarantines phishing attacks. In addition, the company offers PhishMe Playbooks that are 12-month programs with phishing simulation scenarios, landing pages, attachments, and educational content.

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5 CybSafe

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Supercharge awareness activities and improve and measure security behaviour—all in one platform. CybSafe offers simulated phishing, training, and the ability to establish risk perception levels. By assessing someone’s basic knowledge of security with a few questions, their perception of different risks, and how confident they are, CybSafe can tailor itself to each person with personalized awareness training, security advice, and threat updates.

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6 Elevate Security

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Elevate Security Platform uniquely enables your security team to analyze and defend your organization’s Human Attack Surface. Create robust Human Risk Scores, analyze them, and then combine them with contextual information to take targeted action. The Elevate Security Platform uses benchmarks, tailored security controls, and personalized feedback to focus attention on risky employees. It is a technology backed by user education rather than purely being user security awareness training.

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7 Mimecast

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Mimecast Awareness Training uses humor to engage employees and change behavior via awareness training videos. It uses recurring characters and themes to communicate information with content written and produced by TV and film industry professionals in an effort to maintain employee attention and reinforce training. Mimecast Awareness Training has built a large library of awareness training modules focused on top human-error related security risks, covering issues from social engineering to GDPR.

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8 Proofpoint

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Proofpoint gives you protection and visibility for your greatest cybersecurity risk—your people. Proofpoint Security Awareness Training helps you deliver the right training at the right time, with education tailored to individual needs. The company also offers email security, threat protection, and cloud security tools. They provide effective cybersecurity and compliance solutions to protect people on every channel including email, the web, the cloud, social media, and mobile messaging.

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9 Living Security

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Living Security sees security awareness training as a starting point where human risk management is the next evolution in decreasing cyberthreats in an organization. It focuses on risk minimization rather than KPIs based on a phishing report. The company provides personalized campaigns of content based on the threat indicators of the customers. This includes live-action experiential learning rather than video training of long modules, and gamification to increase employee engagement.

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10 LUCY

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LUCY enables organizations to identify gaps in both the technical infrastructure and security awareness and resolve them through a comprehensive e-learning program. Lucy consists of a series of modules to test, train, and engage employees as well as test the infrastructure to look for weaknesses. As well as phishing attacks, it educates users on ransomware, portable media attacks, malware simulations, file-based attacks, and spoofing attacks via realistic simulations.

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Cybersecurity Training Tools profiles in-depth

KnowBe4

KnowBe4 is the superstar of the field, having achieved Unicorn status as a startup that achieved a value of $1 billion. It is focused completely on security awareness training as opposed to others that develop security applications as their main strength. The company has gone public now. It offers baseline testing to find out how phish-prone an organization is, has a huge library of security awareness training content, automated training campaigns, simulated phishing attacks, and a way to monitor improvements in user behavior.

Key Differentiators

  • Interactive browser-based training
  • Brandable content
  • Skills-based and security culture surveys with a focus on improving security culture
  • Custom phishing templates and landing pages
  • Employee engagement to report suspected phishing
  • Security roles enable delegating of permissions
  • Personal and organizational risk scoring
  • Comprehensive training library with fresh content
  • AI-driven phishing and training recommendations
  • Phish ER allows prioritization of phishing threats
  • PhishRIP takes any identified phish out of all email, and PhishFLIP defangs actual phishes and turns them into safe templates
  • USB test, vishing and smishing included
  • A dedicated customer success manager for every customer

Cofense

Cofense PhishMe takes a broader view than staff education. As well as training, it catches the phishing emails that bypass email gateways. It rapidly detects, analyzes, and auto quarantines phishing attacks. In addition, the company offers PhishMe Playbooks that are 12-month programs with phishing simulation scenarios, landing pages, attachments, and educational content.

Key Differentiators

  • A Smart Suggest capability uses algorithms and best practices to recommend scenarios based on current active threats, industry relevance, and program history
  • Cofense Reporter provides detailed reporting on phishing patterns and results
  • Cofense PhishMe Catalog has thousands of educational assets, including videos and infographics
  • Automated responses to phishing attacks
  • Includes technology to detect and catch phishing email attacks to prevent them from reaching users

CybSafe

CybSafe offers simulated phishing, training, and the ability to establish risk perception levels. By assessing someone’s basic knowledge of security with a few questions, their perception of different risks and how confident they are, CybSafe can tailor itself to each person with personalized awareness training, security advice, and threat updates.

Key Differentiators

  • Data-driven personalization means that each person receives the content they need
  • Metrics and insights on what’s working and what’s not
  • Understand how people learn best, how well knowledge is retained, and changes in confidence
  • NCSC certified training
  • Security culture assessment
  • Access anywhere on mobile and desktop

Elevate Security

The Elevate Security Platform uses benchmarks, tailored security controls, and personalized feedback to focus attention on risky employees. Once again, it is technology backed by user education rather than purely being user security awareness training.

Key Differentiators

  • Orchestration with security controls, decision support systems, and executive dashboards
  • The attack surface is analyzed and defended across actions, access, and attacks
  • Leverage existing incident data from security technologies and employee data from HR sources
  • Creates human risk scores for analysis
  • Orchestrate policy and automate response
  • Decide which security tools and systems to control, for whom, and at what level

Mimecast

Mimecast Awareness Training uses humor to engage employees and change behavior via awareness training videos. It uses recurring characters and themes to communicate information with content written and produced by TV and film industry professionals in an effort to maintain employee attention and reinforce training.

Key Differentiators

  • Each cyber security training module takes no longer than three to five minutes to complete
  • Reinforces key concepts by delivering training to every employee once a month
  • Those who need more help based on test results and risk scoring can receive targeted training
  • Multiple languages supported
  • Integration with Mimecast email security technology streamlines phish testing and analysis

Proofpoint

Proofpoint acquired its security training technology in 2019 from Wombat. Proofpoint Security Awareness Training helps you deliver the right training to the right people at the right time, with education tailored to individual needs. The company also offers email security, threat protection, and cloud security tools.

Key Differentiators

  • Consistent training around the globe with multi-language support
  • Prioritize and improve incident response
  • Track progress with dynamic reporting and a results API
  • Education tailored to users
  • Integration with Target Attack Protection (TAP)
  • Detects Very Attacked People (VAPs) and Top Clickers in the organization, giving insight into the types of threats they’re receiving or engaging with
  • ThreatSim Phishing Simulations to understand susceptibility to a variety of phishing attacks
  • Thousands of phishing templates across 13 categories
  • CyberStrength knowledge assessment tool assesses user vulnerabilities beyond email and USB drives, covering critical security issues such as use of mobile devices, social engineering scams, passwords, and web browsing

Living Security

Living Security sees security awareness training as a starting point where human risk management is the next evolution in decreasing cyberthreats in an organization. It focuses on risk minimization rather than KPIs based on a phishing report. As such, the company provides personalized campaigns of content based on the threat indicators of the customers. This includes live-action experiential learning rather than video training of long modules (10 to 30 minutes). Living Security uses gamification to increase employee engagement.

Key Differentiators

  • Security Awareness Program Owners (those in-charge internally in organizations for launching security awareness programs) are provided with internal marketing campaigns to help rally internal end users to willingly do the security training
  • Human Risk Management through Living Security UNIFY, an integrated analytics platform that leverages security data to produce insights, enabling targeted interventions and to improve the overall security of an organization
  • CyberEscape Online utilizes gamification principles, with storylines, strong narratives, and engaging puzzles
  • Company-wide leaderboard that brings employees together while learning how to be more secure
  • Specifically developed for CISOs, CIOs, CSOs, IT directors, IT managers, and security awareness program owners

Lucy

Lucy is focused mainly on the European market but has been growing steadily and has established a U.S. office. It consists of a series of modules to test, train, and engage employees as well as test the infrastructure to look for weaknesses. As well as phishing attacks, it educates users on ransomware, portable media attacks, malware simulations, file-based attacks, and spoofing attacks via realistic simulations.

Key Differentiators

  • A variety of predefined, multilingual attack simulations (phishing, malware, smishing, USB attacks, etc.) test whether employees are really familiar with the dangers of the Internet
  • A safe learning environment lets employees experience what real attacks would feel like
  • Simulates the full threat landscape that goes beyond phishing emails
  • More than 200 interactive, web-based training modules (videos, tests, quizzes, games, etc.) on various security topics
  • Integrated authoring tool allows companies to create new learning content, or Lucy can create custom content
  • The Lucy Mail Plugin for Gmail, Outlook and Office365 integrates employees into the detection of and fight against cyberattacks
  • The Email and Internet malware protection test provides insight into how your mail server and web proxy handle different variations of test files. This allows you to see whether potential malicious code, such as Java files, backdoors, scripts, embedded Office objects, etc., is detected and blocked by the filter infrastructure. Based on these results, you can then carry out targeted phishing campaigns
  • A malware simulation suite emulates various threat scenarios
  • Monitor attack statistics and eLearning progress in real-time
  • Track all attack simulation statistics like the number of emails that were opened, how many links were clicked, and how many attacks were successful
  • Measure your eLearning progress with training stats and quiz results

Key Security Training Features

The vendors in this field are quite varied. Some are squarely focused on user education while others are developers of security tools that have ventured or expanded into the training arena.

Key features from the standpoint of employee security training include:

  • Varied training, not one size fits all
  • Simulated phishing capabilities, smishing, vishing
  • Single platform as opposed to a few features cobbled together
  • Low administrative overhead and no jumping from screen to screen
  • Library of training and phishing content
  • Ability to customize
  • Real brand logos used for phishing
  • Multiple languages
  • Randomization of phishing campaigns
  • Reporting
  • Security assessments

Vendor Selection Tips

Those considering their security awareness training options should check out the following:

  • How is user management handled? Is it a manual process? You want to assess the ease of administration of whatever vendor you choose. If there are multiple systems or consoles, be sure to ask the degree of integration between those systems
  • The volume of training content provided, how important is it to your organization to have an ongoing campaign with fresh content. A small training library means stale and infrequent training.
  • Availability of localized training and phishing content to sustain frequent training and testing internationally/multilingual.
  • Is the vendor dedicated to security awareness training as its core focus, or is it an add-on to a wide variety of products that are bundled as integrated?
  • What does customer support look like and how well is it reviewed?
  • Find out how many capabilities come with the subscription level, what functionality is included versus what requires managed services and extra fees.
  • What reporting and support features are included with the subscription?
  • Is customized and branded training content important? If so, check to see if branding capabilities are in the platform.
Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb has been a full-time professional writer and editor for more than twenty years. He currently works freelance for a number of IT publications, including ServerWatch and CIO Insight. He is also the editor-in-chief of an international engineering magazine.

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