Unmasking the Human Firewall: How KnowBe4 is Redefining Cybersecurity Training!

Recent research has shown that the majority of current security awareness campaigns are ineffective in protecting against phishing attacks. In fact, spear phishing alone is responsible for a staggering 95% of all attacks on enterprise networks. This is where KnowBe4, a leader in cyber security training, comes in.

KnowBe4 is revolutionizing the way organizations approach security awareness by focusing on equipping individuals with the skills needed to identify and prevent these attacks. With their comprehensive training programs, KnowBe4 aims to redefine the concept of the human firewall, empowering employees to become the first line of defense against cyber threats.

Key Takeaways:

  • Traditional security awareness campaigns often fall short in protecting against phishing attacks
  • KnowBe4 is leading the way in redefining cybersecurity training
  • The human firewall concept emphasizes the importance of equipping individuals with the skills to detect and prevent attacks
  • Investing in comprehensive training programs can significantly improve an organization's security posture
  • Cybersecurity training empowers employees to become the first line of defense against cyber threats

The Importance of Behavior Change in Security Awareness Campaigns

In order to effectively address cybersecurity risks, organizations must recognize the critical role that behavior change plays in security awareness campaigns. Traditional approaches to these campaigns often fail to consider the human element and the underlying psychology that drives employee behavior. By understanding behavioral science strategies and applying them to cybersecurity training, organizations can create more effective campaigns that encourage behavior change and improve overall security awareness.

Behavioral science techniques can provide valuable insights into the factors that influence employee behavior and decision-making. For example, understanding the role of cognitive biases, such as the tendency to click on links without verifying their legitimacy, can help organizations design targeted interventions to promote more cautious online behavior.

One effective strategy is the use of social norms, which leverage the power of peer influence to promote desirable behaviors. By highlighting the fact that the majority of employees within the organization follow secure practices, such as reporting suspicious emails, organizations can create a sense of social pressure that encourages others to do the same.

Using Incentives for Behavior Change

In addition to understanding the factors that influence behavior, organizations can also implement incentive programs to further encourage positive security practices. These incentives can range from monetary rewards to recognition within the organization, creating a sense of motivation and engagement among employees.

However, it is important to note that incentives alone may not be sufficient to drive lasting behavior change. The use of positive reinforcement, combined with ongoing training and support, is crucial for ensuring that employees retain and apply their security knowledge in their daily activities.

By prioritizing behavior change and leveraging insights from behavioral science, organizations can enhance the effectiveness of their security awareness campaigns and establish a stronger human firewall against cybersecurity threats.

Key Factors for Behavior Change in Security Awareness CampaignsExamples
Understanding cognitive biasesConfirmation bias, availability bias
Utilizing social normsHighlighting the majority of employees following secure practices
Incentives and positive reinforcementMonetary rewards, recognition within the organization

Lessons from Other Disciplines

When it comes to designing effective security awareness campaigns, we can draw valuable insights from other disciplines that have successfully used behavioral science techniques to change behavior. By applying these lessons to the field of information security awareness, organizations can create more impactful and engaging campaigns.

One discipline that has effectively used behavioral science strategies is public health. For example, visualizing the consequences of actions has been shown to influence behavior. In the context of security awareness campaigns, organizations can leverage this strategy by highlighting the potential risks and consequences of falling victim to a phishing attack or sharing sensitive information. By making the threats more tangible and relatable, employees are more likely to engage and take action.

“Framing” messages for the intended audience is another powerful tool derived from behavioral science. By understanding the motivations and mindset of employees, organizations can tailor their messages to resonate with them. For example, framing the importance of security awareness in terms of personal safety and job security can be more compelling than simply emphasizing the organizational risks.

Furthermore, the field of tax collection has also utilized behavioral science techniques to encourage compliance. One effective strategy is to simplify decision-making processes by providing default options. In the context of security awareness, organizations can apply this approach by setting secure defaults for systems and processes, making it easier for employees to follow best practices without needing to actively make security-related decisions.

Lessons from Other Disciplines

In summary, behavioral science has provided valuable insights into changing behavior in other disciplines, which can be applied to security awareness campaigns. Visualizing consequences, framing messages, simplifying decision-making processes, and setting defaults are just a few strategies that organizations can leverage to create impactful campaigns that resonate with employees and drive behavior change.

Best Practices for Security Awareness Campaigns

Planning and deploying effective security awareness campaigns is crucial for organizations aiming to enhance their cyber defenses. By involving the human resources or marketing department in the process, rather than solely relying on the IT department, organizations can ensure a more comprehensive and impactful campaign. This cross-department collaboration brings diverse perspectives and expertise to the table, leading to creative and engaging campaign strategies.

One key aspect of planning and deployment is prioritizing awareness efforts based on the risks posed by different employee groups and actions. By quantifying these risks, organizations can allocate resources and tailor their campaigns to address the most critical areas. This targeted approach allows for more effective messaging and training, ultimately improving overall security awareness.

Measuring the effectiveness of security awareness campaigns is essential to evaluate their impact and make necessary improvements. Pretests, post-tests, and surveys can provide valuable insights into the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of employees before and after the campaign. This data can inform future campaign strategies and help organizations tailor their training and messaging to be more effective.

Key Best Practices for Security Awareness Campaigns:

  • Involve the human resources or marketing department in campaign planning and deployment
  • Quantify the risks posed by different employee groups and actions to prioritize awareness efforts
  • Measure the effectiveness of campaigns through pretests, post-tests, and surveys
Best PracticesBenefits
Involve HR or marketing departmentBrings diverse perspectives and expertise
Quantify risksAllows for targeted messaging and training
Measure effectivenessProvides insights for improvement and future strategies

Communication Strategies for Phishing Defense

Phishing attacks continue to pose a significant threat to organizations of all sizes. To effectively defend against these attacks, it is crucial to implement communication strategies that promote awareness and empower employees to identify and respond to potential threats. Here are some key strategies for phishing defense:

1. Email Filtering and Blocking

Email filtering and blocking systems play a vital role in preventing malicious emails from reaching employees' inboxes. By implementing robust email filtering solutions, organizations can automatically detect and block suspicious emails, reducing the likelihood of employees falling victim to phishing attempts.

2. Visual Cues for External Emails

Marking external emails with visual cues can help employees differentiate between legitimate emails and potential phishing attempts. Adding a prominent banner or color-coded label to external emails can serve as a reminder for employees to exercise caution and verify the authenticity of the sender before interacting with the email's content.

3. Implement Authentication Protocols

Preventing email spoofing is crucial to phishing defense. Implementing authentication protocols like DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance), SPF (Sender Policy Framework), and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) can help verify the legitimacy of incoming email messages. These protocols add an additional layer of security and reduce the risk of employees falling for emails that appear to originate from trusted sources.

4. Ongoing Education and Awareness

Regular and targeted education and awareness programs are essential to ensure that employees understand the risks associated with phishing attacks and are equipped with the knowledge to identify and report suspicious emails. Training sessions, simulated phishing campaigns, and ongoing communication channels can help reinforce good cybersecurity practices and encourage employees to remain vigilant in their email interactions.

Communication Strategies for Phishing DefenseDescription
Email Filtering and BlockingImplement robust email filtering systems to prevent malicious emails from reaching employees.
Visual Cues for External EmailsMark external emails with visual cues to alert employees and prompt them to verify authenticity.
Implement Authentication ProtocolsUtilize authentication protocols to verify the legitimacy of incoming email messages.
Ongoing Education and AwarenessProvide regular training and communication to keep employees informed and vigilant.

By incorporating these communication strategies into your phishing defense plan, you can enhance your organization's resilience against phishing attacks and empower your employees to be the first line of defense against cyber threats.

Supporting and Educating Employees

In the fight against phishing attacks, it is crucial for organizations to support and educate their employees. By providing them with the knowledge and tools to identify and report suspicious emails, organizations can strengthen their overall security posture.

Reporting Suspicious Emails

Organizations should establish a simple and accessible process for employees to report phishing attempts. This can be done through a dedicated email address or an internal reporting system. It's important to create a non-punitive environment that encourages employees to come forward without fear of reprisal. By reporting suspicious emails, employees play a crucial role in protecting the organization from potential cyber threats.

Staff Education

Education is key in equipping employees with the skills needed to defend against phishing attacks. Training programs should cover topics such as recognizing phishing emails, understanding common phishing techniques, and the importance of verifying the legitimacy of email senders. By teaching employees to trust their instincts and be cautious of sharing personal information, organizations can empower their workforce to be the first line of defense against phishing attempts.

Additionally, organizations should regularly update their staff on emerging phishing trends and tactics. This can be done through informative newsletters, training sessions, or even simulated phishing exercises. By keeping employees informed and engaged, organizations can create a culture of security awareness that strengthens their overall cybersecurity efforts.


Supporting and educating employees is paramount in the battle against phishing attacks. By establishing a reporting process and providing comprehensive training, organizations can empower their workforce to be proactive in identifying and reporting suspicious emails. Together, with a strong human firewall and a culture of security awareness, organizations can defend against the ever-evolving threat landscape.

Mitigating the Impact of Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks can have devastating consequences for organizations, but there are measures that can be taken to mitigate their impact. By implementing a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, organizations can significantly reduce their vulnerability to these attacks and minimize the potential damage.

Proxy Server and Malware Protection

One effective way to mitigate the impact of phishing attacks is to use a proxy server. A proxy server acts as an intermediary between the user and the internet, filtering out malicious websites and preventing users from accessing them. By blocking access to known malicious sites, organizations can greatly reduce the risk of employees falling victim to phishing attempts.

In addition to using a proxy server, organizations should also ensure that they have up-to-date malware protection in place. Malware can be delivered through phishing emails or by visiting compromised websites. By regularly updating and maintaining strong malware protection software, organizations can detect and prevent the installation of malicious software, further mitigating the impact of phishing attacks.

Incident Response Planning

While preventive measures are crucial, it's important to acknowledge that no security system is completely foolproof. In the event that a phishing attack is successful, organizations should have a well-defined incident response plan in place. This plan should outline the steps to be taken in the event of an attack, including who should be notified, how systems should be isolated, and how data should be protected.

By rehearsing the incident response plan regularly, organizations can ensure that their employees are prepared to respond effectively in the event of an attack. This can significantly reduce the time it takes to identify and mitigate the impact of a phishing attack, minimizing potential damage and downtime.


Privileged Account Control and Least Privilege Principles

Controlling privileged IT accounts is a critical component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. By implementing the principle of least privilege, organizations can minimize the risk of unauthorized access and potential data breaches. This principle involves granting staff only the system privileges necessary for their roles, ensuring that they have the minimum access required to perform their job duties.

When adhering to the least privilege principle, administrator accounts should be used solely for administrative tasks and disabled or removed when not in use. This prevents unauthorized individuals from gaining unrestricted access to sensitive systems and data. By limiting the number of privileged accounts and enforcing strict access controls, organizations can significantly reduce their attack surface and strengthen their overall security posture.

Table: Privileged Account Control Best Practices

Best PracticeDescription
Implement the principle of least privilegeGrant users only the minimum access and privileges necessary to perform their job functions.
Regularly review and revoke access rightsPeriodically review user access rights and remove unnecessary privileges to prevent unauthorized access.
Disable or remove unused accountsDisable or remove accounts that are no longer in use to prevent potential unauthorized access.
Implement multi-factor authenticationRequire additional authentication factors, such as biometrics or tokens, to access privileged accounts.
Monitor and log privileged account activityImplement monitoring and logging systems to track and investigate any suspicious activity related to privileged accounts.

privileged IT accounts

To ensure proper account management, it is essential to establish strong links between HR processes and IT account management. This ensures that user access rights are promptly updated or revoked when employees change roles or leave the organization. By aligning HR policies with IT security protocols, organizations can prevent the misuse or abuse of privileged IT accounts.

By implementing privileged account control and adhering to the principle of least privilege, organizations can create a robust security framework that mitigates the risk of insider threats and external attacks. These measures, combined with other cybersecurity best practices, help protect valuable assets, data, and systems from unauthorized access and compromise.

Importance of Patching and Device Updates

Regular software patching and device updates are crucial for maintaining a secure environment in today's rapidly evolving threat landscape. The presence of vulnerabilities in software and devices can leave organizations susceptible to cyber attacks and data breaches. Implementing a risk-based patching strategy and actively managing vulnerabilities are essential steps in proactively mitigating potential security risks.

By regularly patching software, organizations can ensure that known vulnerabilities are addressed and fixed. This includes updating operating systems, applications, and firmware to the latest versions provided by vendors. Patching not only helps protect against known threats but also helps safeguard against zero-day vulnerabilities that may be actively exploited.

Similarly, keeping devices up to date with the latest firmware and security updates is critical. This applies to a wide range of devices, including servers, networking equipment, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Regularly updating device firmware and applying security patches helps close security gaps and ensures that devices are protected against newly discovered vulnerabilities.

Benefits of Software Patching and Device Updates

  • Enhanced security: Patching and updating software and devices help address known vulnerabilities and protect against potential attacks.
  • Improved performance: Updates often include bug fixes and performance optimizations, resulting in smoother operations and better user experience.
  • Compliance adherence: Regular patching and updates are essential for meeting regulatory requirements and industry standards.
  • Reduced risk of data breaches: By promptly addressing vulnerabilities, organizations reduce the likelihood of cybercriminals exploiting them to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data.

Proactive patching and device updates are critical components of an effective vulnerability management strategy. By staying up to date with the latest security patches and firmware updates, organizations can significantly reduce their attack surface and mitigate potential security risks.

It is important for organizations to have a robust vulnerability management program in place to ensure timely identification, assessment, and remediation of vulnerabilities. This includes conducting regular vulnerability scans, prioritizing patches based on risk, and implementing a system for tracking and monitoring patch deployments.

Executive staff should be aware of major vulnerabilities and understand their potential impact on the organization's security. Regular communication and collaboration between IT teams and decision-makers are essential for making informed decisions and allocating resources to effectively manage vulnerabilities and ensure the overall security of the organization's IT infrastructure.

Vulnerability Management Best PracticesDescription
Prioritize vulnerabilitiesAssess and prioritize vulnerabilities based on severity, associated risks, and potential impact on the organization.
Implement automated patch managementUtilize patch management tools to automate the deployment of software patches and updates across the organization's network.
Monitor patch deploymentsEstablish a system for tracking and monitoring the status of patch deployments to ensure all devices and software are up to date.
Perform regular vulnerability scansConduct periodic vulnerability assessments to identify new vulnerabilities and assess the effectiveness of patch management efforts.
Establish a vulnerability disclosure processCreate a clear process for receiving and addressing vulnerability reports from internal or external sources.

By prioritizing software patching and device updates, organizations can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to cyber attacks. Maintaining an updated and secure environment helps protect sensitive data, preserve customer trust, and safeguard the organization's overall reputation.

Cybersecurity Discussions between Boards and CISOs

Cybersecurity discussions between boards and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) play a critical role in ensuring effective cyber risk management and maintaining organizational security. By fostering open and constructive communication, boards can gain a deeper understanding of cyber risks and make informed decisions to protect their data and systems.

Engaging in regular cybersecurity discussions allows boards to stay updated on the evolving threat landscape and the effectiveness of existing security measures. These discussions enable boards to assess the organization's cyber risk posture, identify potential vulnerabilities, and allocate resources effectively. By actively involving CISOs in these dialogues, boards can tap into their expertise and benefit from their insights on the latest security trends and technologies.

The Importance of Board-CISO Communication

Board-CISO communication is crucial for developing a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that aligns with the organization's overall objectives and risk appetite. CISOs can provide valuable insights into the organization's security posture, highlighting areas of improvement and recommending cybersecurity initiatives and investments. Through effective communication channels, boards can better understand the impact of cyber risks on business operations and make strategic decisions to prevent and mitigate potential threats.

Furthermore, board-CISO communication strengthens the organization's cyber risk awareness and culture. By prioritizing cybersecurity discussions, boards demonstrate their commitment to data protection and set the tone for a security-conscious culture throughout the organization. This commitment fosters collaboration between the board, executive leadership, and the IT team, creating a unified front against cyber threats.

Developing Cyber Risk Awareness

Effective cybersecurity discussions between boards and CISOs are essential for developing cyber risk awareness across the organization. When boards actively engage in these discussions, it sends a powerful message to employees, reinforcing the importance of cybersecurity and creating a culture that values security. This awareness extends beyond the IT department, empowering employees from all levels to take an active role in safeguarding the organization's assets.

By engaging in regular cybersecurity discussions, boards can stay informed and proactively address emerging threats. These discussions provide a platform for boards to ask critical questions, challenge existing strategies, and seek proactive solutions to enhance the organization's cyber resilience. Through ongoing communication and collaboration, boards and CISOs can work together to build a robust cybersecurity framework that protects against evolving cyber risks.

Table: Key Benefits of Board-CISO Communication

Enhanced Cyber Risk ManagementBoards gain a deeper understanding of cyber risks, allowing them to make informed decisions and allocate resources effectively.
Improved Cybersecurity StrategyEffective communication between boards and CISOs enables the development of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that aligns with organizational objectives.
Strengthened Cyber Risk AwarenessBoards set a security-conscious culture, reinforcing the importance of cybersecurity and empowering employees to play an active role in protection.
Proactive Approach to Emerging ThreatsRegular discussions provide a platform for boards to address emerging threats, challenge existing strategies, and seek proactive solutions.


To enhance cybersecurity efforts, organizations must prioritize behavior change and leverage insights from behavioral science. By incorporating effective cybersecurity training, organizations can create a strong human firewall that is capable of identifying and preventing phishing attacks. This training equips individuals with the skills needed to recognize and respond to threats, ultimately strengthening the overall security awareness of the organization.

Implementing best practices in security awareness campaigns, such as involving HR or marketing departments, quantifying risks, and measuring effectiveness, can greatly enhance the impact of these campaigns. Additionally, communication strategies, such as email filtering and marking external emails, can help employees identify potential phishing attacks and make informed decisions about their legitimacy. Organizations should also focus on supporting and educating employees, providing a simple way to report suspicious emails and educating staff on the importance of sharing personal information cautiously.

While preventing all phishing attacks is not possible, organizations can mitigate their impact by implementing measures such as using a proxy server, ensuring up-to-date malware protection, and rehearsing incident response plans. Controlling privileged IT accounts and following the principle of least privilege are also essential for maintaining a secure environment. Regular patching and device updates are critical to addressing vulnerabilities and reducing the risk of cyber threats.

Furthermore, fostering effective communication between boards and CISOs is crucial. Regular cybersecurity discussions enable organizations to increase awareness of cyber risks and collaborate on effective security strategies. By staying updated on software patching and device updates, organizations can strengthen their defenses and protect against evolving cyber threats. By embracing these practices and integrating cybersecurity into the core of their operations, organizations can safeguard their data and systems from malicious actors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

According to recent research, the majority of current security awareness campaigns are ineffective in protecting against phishing attacks.

Spear phishing is responsible for 95% of all attacks on enterprise networks.

KnowBe4 equips individuals with the skills to identify and prevent phishing attacks, thus redefining the human firewall.

Traditional approaches fail to consider the human element and the underlying psychology that drives employee behavior.

Yes, by understanding behavioral science strategies, organizations can create more effective security awareness campaigns.

Visualizing consequences and framing messages can be powerful tools in influencing behavior, as seen in other fields such as public health and tax collection.

It is recommended to involve the human resources or marketing department in the planning and deployment process, as well as quantifying risks and measuring effectiveness.

Organizations can implement email filtering or blocking systems, add visual cues to external emails, and prevent email spoofing by implementing authentication protocols.

Organizations should provide a simple and accessible way for staff to report phishing attempts and provide feedback, without punishing employees for falling victim to attacks.

Organizations can use a proxy server to block access to known malicious sites, ensure up-to-date malware protection, and enforce the use of standard user accounts for browsing and email.

By implementing the principle of least privilege and ensuring strong links between HR processes and IT account management.

Regular patching and updating helps maintain a secure environment and manage vulnerabilities in an organization's IT estate.

Regular, constructive cybersecurity discussions between boards and CISOs increase awareness of cyber risks and foster effective communication for better data and system protection.