Leverage External Partners like MSSPs and Ethical Hackers for Top Security Awareness Training

Estimated read time 6 min read


Are you grappling with the idea of outsourcing your security awareness training? You’re certainly not alone. As cyber threats become more complex, many organizations are opting for specialized solutions.

Engaging with external partners like Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs), ethical hackers, and pentesters can provide a much-needed edge.

This article will guide you through the how-tos of using such external expertise for an effective security awareness program.

Cybersecurity professionals
Cybersecurity professionals

The Benefits of External Expertise

Why Go External?

Collaborating with external entities like MSSPs provides several advantages. These specialists bring a treasure trove of experience and up-to-date knowledge in cybersecurity. They offer a range of customized training content that adheres to the latest security trends and standards.

A Real-World Case

For instance, a retail organization engaged with an MSSP that also provided ethical hackers for simulated attack scenarios. This hands-on approach resulted in a 40% improvement in the employees’ ability to identify phishing attempts.

Making an Informed Choice

Cybersecurity professionals
Cybersecurity professionals

What to Look For

When selecting an external partner, consider factors like the quality of training content, the expertise of ethical hackers involved, and the cost-effectiveness of the service. Client reviews and a proven track record are solid indicators of a reliable partner.

Industry-Specific Expertise

Choosing a partner experienced in your industry can add immense value. For example, if you’re in the healthcare sector, an MSSP specializing in healthcare compliance will be more effective.

Setting the Stage for Success

Preliminary Steps

Before diving into the training, outline your objectives and allocate a budget. Identify the target audience within your organization and assess their specific training needs. Share relevant information like internal security policies with your external partner to tailor the training.

Logistics and Coordination

Work closely with your MSSP or ethical hackers to sort out the logistical aspects. Ensure all schedules, resources, and training materials are in place before the program kicks off.

Keeping Your Team Engaged

The Importance of Employee Involvement

Employee engagement can make or break your training program. Solicit input during the planning stages and offer rewards for active participation. This creates a more interactive and enjoyable learning environment.

Gamification and Role-Playing

Using game elements and role-playing scenarios involving ethical hackers or pentesters can make the training more engaging. This approach also aids in the retention of key security concepts.

10 Tips to Find the Best External Partner for Security Awareness Training

Navigating the myriad options for external partners like MSSPs, ethical hackers, and pentesters can be overwhelming. Here’s a handy list of 10 tips to help you find the best fit for your organization’s security awareness training needs.

  • Assess Your Needs: Before diving into the search, understand what you need from a security awareness program. Are you looking for basic training modules or specialized sessions involving ethical hacking?
  • Look for Specialization: Opt for partners that specialize in your industry or the particular type of training you need. Specialized expertise can offer more targeted and effective training.
  • Check Certifications: Ensure that the potential partner has the right industry certifications. This not only establishes credibility but also ensures that they meet certain standards.
  • Ask for Referrals: Word of mouth is still one of the most reliable ways to gauge the quality of a service. Ask for referrals from trusted industry peers or even within your own network.
  • Read Reviews and Testimonials: Check online reviews and testimonials from other clients. This will provide insights into the partner’s reputation and quality of service.
  • Request a Pilot Program: If possible, request a pilot or demo program. This gives you a first-hand experience of what to expect and can help you assess if they’re the right fit.
  • Evaluate Training Material: Ask to review sample training materials. Look for up-to-date information, relevance, and how well it aligns with your organizational needs.
  • Discuss Customization Options: Customization is key for effective training. Make sure the external partner offers to tailor the program to meet your specific organizational needs.
  • Compare Pricing: While cost should not be the only determining factor, it’s important to ensure you’re getting value for your money. Compare pricing and see what each package includes.
  • Check Post-Training Support: Post-training support can be crucial for reinforcing the lessons learned. Ask if the partner offers follow-up sessions, additional resources, or ongoing support.

By following these 10 tips, you’ll be better equipped to find an external partner that not only meets your security awareness training needs but also adds significant value to your cybersecurity posture.

Evaluating the Program’s Impact

Cybersecurity Awareness
Cybersecurity Awareness

Using SMART Metrics

Measure the success of your security awareness training by setting SMART goals. Gather data pre and post-training to evaluate any changes in security awareness levels.

Simulated Tests

Simulated attacks by ethical hackers or pentesters after the training can provide valuable insights into its effectiveness. These real-world tests measure how well employees can apply what they’ve learned.

Continuous Refinement

Post-Training Analysis

After completing the training, evaluate its effectiveness using the collected metrics. Discuss these insights with your MSSP or ethical hackers to identify areas for improvement.

Policy Updates

Leverage the information gained from the training to update your internal security policies. This ensures that the organization is always in a state of preparedness.

Future Roadmap

Stay Ahead with Ongoing Training

Cyber threats are ever-evolving, and so should your security awareness training. Establish a roadmap for ongoing training sessions, perhaps semi-annually or annually. Keep in touch with your external partners like MSSPs and ethical hackers to stay updated on the latest threats and countermeasures.

Involve New Players

As your organization grows, consider bringing in additional external expertise. You might expand from an MSSP to include specialized pentesters or ethical hackers focusing on emerging threat vectors like IoT security or cloud vulnerabilities.

Key Takeaways

To encapsulate, partnering with external experts like MSSPs, ethical hackers, and pentesters offers a multifaceted approach to security awareness training. From custom training modules to real-world simulations, these partnerships offer valuable insights and practical experience that in-house programs often lack.

Checklist for Effective Partnership

  • Define Objectives: Clearly state what you hope to achieve with the security awareness training.
  • Choose Wisely: Vet potential external partners carefully, looking at their track records and expertise.
  • Engage Employees: Make the training interactive to ensure better engagement and retention.
  • Measure Impact: Use SMART goals and real-world tests to measure the training’s effectiveness.
  • Iterate: Use feedback and performance metrics to refine future training sessions.

Final Thoughts

The cybersecurity landscape is increasingly complex, making it challenging for organizations to manage every aspect in-house. By leveraging the skills of external specialists like MSSPs, ethical hackers, and pentesters, you can create a more robust, engaging, and effective security awareness program. It’s an investment in your organization’s safety and long-term resilience against the ever-present and evolving cyber threats.

Reza Rafati https://cyberwarzone.com

Reza Rafati, based in the Netherlands, is the founder of Cyberwarzone.com. An industry professional providing insightful commentary on infosec, cybercrime, cyberwar, and threat intelligence, Reza dedicates his work to bolster digital defenses and promote cyber awareness.

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