How Much Does Security Awareness Training Cost (& Is It Worth It?)
If you're responsible for the finance and budgeting of your company, you might wonder if investing in security awareness training for employees is worth the cost. After all, you already have antivirus software, firewalls, and other security measures in place.
Why allot more resources into security awareness training?
To answer this question, we interviewed Sean Harris, Intelligent Technical Solution’s (ITS’) Senior VP for Cybersecurity, to answer the following questions about security awareness training:
- How much does security awareness training cost?
- Is it worth the overall cost?
As a managed IT provider dedicated to providing top-notch cybersecurity for our partners, we believe you should have all the information you need to make the right decisions for your business. And by the end of the article, you’ll have the tools to evaluate security awareness training costs and if it’s worth pursuing.
How much does security awareness training cost?
Security awareness training costs are tricky to pin down. Most companies hire a third-party cybersecurity training partner, making costs go up or down depending on the chosen partner. Others decide to get an in-house expert to conduct the training. Some decide to mix third-party and in-house training.
These multiple situations make giving a completely accurate and universal estimate of security awareness training costs impossible.
You’ll have to ask yourself: how much will your business spend on security awareness training? To find the answer to that, you’ll need to look at both the monetary cost and the estimated value of security awareness training.
1. The Monetary Cost
Finding the short-term monetary cost of security awareness training is straightforward.
You’ll need to list down the price of the following factors:
- Training program costs - the annual price of any partnership with a cybersecurity expert or software designed to train your employees.
- Employee rates - the hours it took to build, implement, and maintain the program multiplied by the hourly rate of the training facilitator.
Add the training program costs and employee rate per hour spent on the program, and you’ll have a pretty good estimate of your security awareness training cost.
So, let’s say you have (or are planning for) a yearly partnership with a security training company that costs $2,000, and it takes your IT department head (at $46/hour) eight hours to set it up for the year, then you can price your security awareness training costs at approximately $2,368 per year.
However, finding the monetary cost isn’t the end-all-be-all of security awareness training. You still have to find out if the value of the overall service is worth it.
2. The Estimated Value
Finding the estimated value of security awareness training is easier if you look at the cost of not doing it.
“If you look at the cost of not doing security awareness training, it’s pretty astronomical,” Harris said. “As organizations get better and better at defending their data, the soft targets or the people are the weakest point.”
He went on to cite the MGM Grand data breach. “They have all kinds of security, and they probably invested a lot in infrastructure and security. But the hackers went on LinkedIn, got some information from an administrator’s profile, and then called the help desk and convinced the help desk person on the other side to give them access.”
Now, you may not be as big as MGM Grand (or maybe you are - great job!), but you can get a pretty good estimate of the value of security awareness training. It boils down to answering two questions:
- How much will it likely cost when you experience a security incident or data breach? (If you’re unsure, here’s a downtime calculator to get you started)
- How often will it likely happen in a year (based on industry and company data)?
You can then conduct a cost-value analysis, comparing how much you’ll lose from a security exposure vs. how much you’ll spend preventing it. For example, your security awareness training costs you $2,368 per year, but has the potential to save you from an annual loss of $100,000, the numbers end up speaking for themselves.
Is security awareness training worth the cost?
Absolutely. Whether you’re looking at the tangible price of training or the long-term investment costs, you get huge value out of security awareness training.
“I have yet to run into anybody who doesn't think that security training is good,” Harris said. “The difference is though, are they actually doing it?”
Security awareness training is often forgotten because it’s a proactive action instead of a reactive one.
But here’s a list of the top reasons you should make it a priority:
1. It drastically reduces the likelihood of data breaches.
Approximately 82% of data breaches involve human error. This means that employees are often the weakest link in an organization’s cybersecurity posture.
Cybersecurity training can help reduce the likelihood of data breaches by educating employees on proper cybersecurity practices, recognizing security risk factors associated with their actions, and identifying cybersecurity incidents they may encounter in their work.
Organizations that emphasize training are also quicker at detecting attacks and more efficient at isolating them. Trained users are far more likely to identify phishing attempts and security threats than untrained users.
2. It keeps your business in compliance with government regulations.
Aside from reducing the likelihood of data breaches, security awareness training can also help organizations comply with government regulations.
For example, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requires all department employees and contractors to receive annual information security awareness training and role-based training in compliance with OMB A-130, Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-16 Rev.1 2.
Other companies under HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) and CMMC 2.0 regulations are also required to conduct cybersecurity training.
Therefore, security awareness training is not only essential for reducing the likelihood of data breaches but also for keeping your business in compliance with government regulations.
3. It enhances your company’s reputation and reliability.
Because security awareness training reduces your chances of a breach and helps you comply with the latest security regulations, there’s clear proof you take data security seriously and are committed to protecting their data.
This can help to build trust and confidence in your brand, which can ultimately lead to increased customer loyalty and sales.
4. It ensures cybersecurity is an ongoing process instead of a one-time event.
Security awareness training is not a one-time event but an ongoing process that needs to be updated and reinforced regularly.
It helps to build a culture of security within the organization, where everyone can understand the importance of protecting company data, protecting themselves and others, and reporting any suspicious behavior.
A culture of security is important for any organization, as it helps create a mindset where employees are more likely to take security seriously.
Ready to implement a security awareness training program?
Regardless of the cost, security awareness training is worth it as it helps protect your most valuable assets: your data and your customers.
ITS is a company with years of experience protecting our clients’ data. Our mission is to help businesses like yours on a journey towards a more secure organization. If you’re looking to implement security awareness training as part of a holistic cybersecurity program, schedule a meeting with one of our security consultants.
Or, if you want to learn more about security awareness training and how to improve your security posture, read through the following resources from our Learning Center:
- Top 5 Cybersecurity Training Providers
- The Whys and Hows of an Engaging Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program [EBOOK]
- 6 Components of an Effective Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program
- What Businesses Need to Know About Managed Cybersecurity Services