How to Measure the Success of Cyber Awareness Training?

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Have you ever wondered if your organisation’s cyber awareness training is truly effective? In today’s digital age, where the threat of cyberattacks looms large, it’s a question that every business should ask. Cybersecurity breaches can be devastating, both financially and reputationally. So, how can you ensure your employees are adequately prepared to defend against cyber threats?

In a collaborative research effort led by Stanford University Professor Jeff Hancock and security company Tessian, it was discovered that a staggering 88% of data breach occurrences can be attributed to errors made by employees. IBM Security’s analogous research also aligns with this finding, estimating the figure at 95%.

In a nutshell, the key to measuring the success of cyber awareness training lies in evaluating your security team and their knowledge and behaviour. So, it requires a clear strategy focused on specific security behaviours. Unfortunately, many cyber security leaders struggle to establish a framework for quantifying the effectiveness of their training, leading their organisations to rely on intuition rather than well-defined objectives and data support.


Key Metrics to Measure the Effectiveness of Security Awareness Training

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Key Performance Indicators are the high-level, strategic metrics that organisations use to assess the overall success of their security awareness training programs. They provide a top-level view of program effectiveness and help align security awareness efforts with broader organisational goals. Some KPIs for security awareness training might include:

  1. Reduction in Security Incidents: Decreasing the number of security incidents, such as data breaches, malware infections, or insider threats, serves as a KPI, enhancing security awareness and the organisation’s response to those attacks.
  2. Phishing Resilience: It assesses how well employees can identify and resist phishing emails or attempts, reducing successful attacks.
  3. Compliance with Security Policies: KPIs in this category measure how employees adhere to security policies, showcasing their grasp of and dedication to best security practices.


Targets are specific, measurable goals organisations aim to achieve with security awareness training programs. Targets are directly tied to the KPIs and provide a clear benchmark for success. Some examples of setting a target are:

  1. Reduce Security Incidents by 15% in the Next Year: This is a specific target related to the “Reduction in Security Incidents” KPI. It sets a clear goal for the program to achieve a 15% decrease in security incidents within a specific time frame.
  2. Achieve a Phishing Resilience Rate of 65%: This target is aligned with the “Phishing Resilience” KPI and defines the desired level of employee resistance to phishing attacks.


Metrics are specific, quantifiable data points that measure progress towards meeting the targets and KPIs. Security awareness metrics provide detailed insights into how the cybersecurity awareness training program is performing. A few examples of defining the metrics and using them are:

  1. Reported Phishing Attempts Count: This metric keeps tabs on the total number of phishing attempts that employees have reported within a defined time frame.
  2. Incident Resolution Time: Metrics like this measure the duration to address and resolve security risks following their reporting effectively.
  3. Training Program Completion Percentage: This metric provides insight into the proportion of employees who have successfully finished the security awareness training program.


The frequency of measurement refers to how often the organisation collects and analyses the metrics to assess the effectiveness of the security training program. The choice of frequency depends on the nature of the metric and the organisation’s goals. Some metrics may need to be measured more frequently than others. For example:

  • Phishing Simulation Results: These might be measured on a monthly or quarterly basis to assess the evolving ability of employees to identify phishing attempts.
  • Reduction in Security Incidents: This KPI may be reviewed annually to track progress over a longer time frame.
  • Training Completion Rate: This metric can be continuously monitored as new employees join and complete the training.


How Can You Measure the Success of Your Security Awareness Program?

Measuring the success of your security awareness program is essential to ensure that it is effective in bolstering your organisation’s cybersecurity.

Surveys: Employee surveys provide valuable qualitative insights into their understanding of security concepts and their perception of the training program’s effectiveness. Feedback collected through surveys can help identify areas for improvement and adaptation.

Simulated Events: Simulated events, such as phishing simulations and security drills, test employees’ responses to real-world scenarios. These exercises help assess their ability to recognise and mitigate security threats.

Event Logging: Keeping comprehensive records of security-related events and incidents is crucial. Event logs allow you to track and analyse cyber attacks, employee actions, and system vulnerabilities, providing a historical perspective on program effectiveness.

Monitoring: Continuous monitoring of security breaches, employee behaviours, and compliance with security policies is an ongoing process. Regular monitoring ensures that your security awareness program effectively addresses emerging threats.

Assessments: Pre and post-training assessments evaluate the knowledge and awareness of employees. These assessments help quantify the impact of the training and identify areas where further education may be required.


Best Practices for Measuring Security Awareness Training Programs

Having a good idea of the key metrics and knowing the ways to measure the success of your cyber security awareness training programs is not enough. You must apply the best practices to get the best and the most accurate results. Here are a few steps you should follow to determine which cybersecurity training metrics work best.

Establishing baseline metrics

Before implementing any security awareness training program, it is important to establish baseline metrics to measure the current level of awareness and knowledge among employees. This can be done through surveys or assessments that provide a benchmark against which the training effectiveness can be evaluated.

Setting SMART goals

Setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals is crucial and should be used to measure the success of a security awareness program. SMART goals help provide a clear focus and enable organisations to track progress and evaluate the effectiveness of the training program against specific objectives like increasing the awareness levels of the employees and improving the quality of cyber security operations. Examples of SMART goals include reducing the number of potential cyber risks by a certain percentage or increasing the reporting rate of suspicious emails.

Regular evaluation and assessment

Measuring the effectiveness of security awareness training is an ongoing process. Regular evaluation and assessment of the program are essential to ensure that the desired outcomes are being achieved through the training modules. This can include conducting periodic reviews, analysing metrics, and gathering feedback from employees to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to the training program to enhance their security posture.


The Need for Measuring Security Awareness Training

Measuring the effectiveness of your security awareness training is a crucial part of knowing the security knowledge your employees understand. Firstly, it allows you to identify areas where your program may fall short and make necessary improvements. Secondly, it helps justify the investment in training programs to key stakeholders and demonstrate their value to the organisation.

By measuring the success of your security awareness training, you can proactively address security risks, enhance employees’ cybersecurity knowledge and behaviours and the overall security culture in your organisation, and ultimately mitigate the potential impact of a cyber-attack. Don’t overlook the importance of measuring the effectiveness of your security awareness program, as it measures the impact of your cyber security training content.

By effectively measuring the results of the security awareness campaigns, you identify areas where training is most effective and areas that require additional focus. You can optimise your training by knowing which format of the security awareness training works and ensuring that resources are allocated where they are most needed to mitigate cybersecurity risks effectively.



In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, the importance of a robust security awareness training program cannot be overstated. As the ever-evolving cyber threats continue to grow, organisations must equip their employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to defend against potential attacks.

In conclusion, the effectiveness of a security awareness training program lies not only in its implementation but also in its continuous measurement and refinement. Organisations must leverage metrics, assessments, and evaluations to gauge the impact of their training initiatives fully. By doing so, they not only enhance their employees’ cybersecurity knowledge and behaviours but also fortify their overall security posture.

Don’t leave your organisation’s cybersecurity to chance. Take proactive steps to measure, improve, and reinforce your security awareness training. Contact us today to embark on a safer, more secure digital future. Your organisation’s cybersecurity is our priority, and we are here to help you achieve the peace of mind you deserve.

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