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Gamification and Cybersecurity: Elements of a Successful Strategy

Cybersecurity is a persistent problem throughout the business world – from small businesses to huge corporations. Implemented techniques and tools often fail to prevent data breaches due to human error. According to the 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon, in 17% of all attacks data breaches are caused by mistakes.

None of the actions are ill-intentioned as employees often send an email to a wrong email address or open infected files. Such attacks are called Man in the Middle Attacks (MITM) that often become possible thanks to negligent workers who click suspicious links and open fishing emails.

As cybercrime continues to threaten the well-being of companies and governmental agencies all over the world, they seek new ways to educate their employees in cybersecurity. And the new method more and more companies rely their efforts on is gamification. This training mechanism is what you should look out for in 2019.

Related: 5 Emerging Cybersecurity Trends in 2019

Why Might Gamification Be the Answer? Introducing Gamification

Gamification involves the application of game principles and game logic to engage users in problems solving and professional training. The mechanism utilizes the elements of competition and rewards to motivate participants on their learning path. The primary use of gamification is user onboarding and customer engagement. However, lately, we see another interesting trend.

More and more companies are starting to realize the benefits gamification can bring to cybersecurity training. Pulse Learning’s report on gamification states that 79% of participants from corporations and universities of different ages consider gamification as the primary opportunity to increase productivity and motivation in learning.

By implementing gamification, companies can make the learning process easier and more efficient, while significantly reducing the training time. Gaming approach simplifies the comprehension of information; rewards incite users to continue learning new materials, pass tests and earn brownie points.

In general, gamification brings the following benefits to the company implementing it:

1. Understanding of the positive impact of cybersecurity education
2. Promotion of the data protection techniques among employees
3. Consistency in cybersecurity training
4. Engagement of workers in education by rewarding them for achievements
5. Possibility to measure the effectiveness of cybersecurity training

How Are Companies Using Gamification for Cyber Security Training?

Gamification in cybersecurity training is nothing new. Many companies all over the world are already using the technique in their internal training programs for employees. This approach helps to transform cyber security awareness.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a company specialized in audit and consulting services, has already adopted gamification. The company developed the Game of Threats, a cyber threat simulation. The game is designed for senior executives and boards of directors to improve their cybersecurity awareness.

Game of Threats educates employees through realistic scenarios where the workers are required to make quick decisions to mitigate the risk of data breaches. Players learn what attack strategies can be used, how to recognize such attempts, as well as to prevent and report them. The game is so successful that PwC is considering to bring gamification to financial crime and crisis management training.

Digital Guardian, a data loss prevention company, created the DG Data Defender game. It aims to help other companies educate employees in data loss prevention techniques. DG Data Defender encourages users to follow established data protection policies. The game incites employees with badges for achieving set goals, like sending emails without violating the company’s data policy. Managers can publish monthly Data Defender Leaderboards and encourage workers to be more engaged in the educational process.

Beaumont Health Systems migrated from non-interactive PowerPoint presentations to more engaging gamification techniques in 2014. By combining gamification, interactive content and traditional teaching, the company enhanced the efficiency of cybersecurity training. The result of gamification implementation is the proactive approach the employees start using with regard to cybersecurity.

Circadence Corp. went a step further by implementing AI and machine learning into its Ares project. The cybersecurity training platform can automatically adapt to the changes in cyber threats and stay up-to-date without human involvement.

Other companies also use gamification without disclosing the details to the public or apply it for different purposes. The Cyber Security Challenge organization uses such an approach to find cybersecurity talent. Large companies and government agencies sponsor the yearly competition. Winners often land great jobs at large organizations.

Related: How to Protect Your Business from a Data Breach

7 Elements of a Successful Gamification Strategy

Although gamification is definitely worth attention, it is far from enough just to create a game and hope for it to be useful. A thorough preparation precedes the gamification implementation process. To develop a successful gamification strategy, the steps provided below should be included.

1. Define business objectives

This step is the most important and should be considered before the actual cybersecurity game development. Consider what goal the training has, what you want employees to learn and why you need them to know it. Maybe you want to teach them how to send emails or not to open all links without thinking all actions through. Design the game around the business objectives.

2. Define the end user

Creating a cybersecurity training game without knowing the end user is fruitless. If you create a new training game for HR specialists, don’t stop only at defining their specialty. Learn what they like to do, what they are interested in, how they prefer to learn new information and what devices they use.

3. Make games short

The longer the game is, the more tiresome it is for employees to gain new knowledge. While a long, two-hour training session may seem like a great idea, consider creating a few-minutes-long session for every day. Employees will learn new information and concentrate their attention better.

4. Make training consistent

Consistency is the ticket to successful cybersecurity training. Make games that require users to play every day during a certain time. It will help to keep employees engaged over the period of time needed to process and memorize information.

5. Implement a rewarding mechanism

A game you create should not only educate users in cybersecurity but also be engaging. Rewards system will help you keep users’ attention and interest. What is a better way to encourage them to participate in training than providing rewards? Some companies give money-based rewards, like dinner at a restaurant or free movie tickets.

6. Keep things fun

Training is not supposed to be boring. Keep it fun and engaging, so that users won’t get tired within the first few minutes of the first training session. You may include jokes, funny images or hilarious dialogues to keep things entertaining.

7. Prototype, test, change, and launch

Game design is crucial for achieving the best results. Users don’t need only to win; they need to learn along the way to winning. How to understand that the chosen game logic is clear and educative for your employees? Before rolling out a new training game, test it. If the objective is not met and you see some room for improvement, make iterations, test the new version, and only after it successfully passes all requirements, launch it.

Training is important to ensure a high level of security and efficient cybercrime resistance. Learning through doing is the most efficient approach to professional training. Gamification is a new word in cybersecurity that companies are already successfully using to prevent cybercrimes and strengthen themselves.

About the Author: Maria Redka

Maria Redka is a Technology Writer at MLSDev, a web and mobile app development company in Ukraine. She has been writing content professionally for more than 3 years. Maria researches the IT industry and the app development market to create educative content for the company’s clients and build MLSDev as a brand. The opportunity to share her knowledge with people who are looking for valuable information to understand more about app development is something that motivates Maria and inspires her to create more quality content.

SensorsTechForum Guest Authors

The opinions expressed in these guest posts are entirely those of the contributing author, and may not reflect those of SensorsTechForum.

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