Security awareness

Why Privacy Education is a Must in Security Awareness Training

Graeme Messina
July 28, 2018 by
Graeme Messina


Security awareness training is an essential part of running a business, but how often do we think about privacy education as a part of this process? There is a continual struggle between privacy and security for employees and employers alike, and finding out where the middle ground lies is essential if companies are going to create a secure and private working environment for employees to thrive in.

Another key component of security awareness training revolves around customer and company data. Then there’s company information sources, which must be safeguarded and protected at all costs. Security awareness training needs to cover many different aspects of best practice and acceptable data usage within the organization. This means that any training that covers security awareness needs to cover all of these subjects, and more.

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What Are the Key Elements of Security Awareness Training and Privacy?

If we think about what an organization needs to do in order to remain secure, the first place to consult would be the company’s IT security policy. This document is responsible for determining the company’s security stance, and is ultimately responsible for aligning the behavior of its members with the security strategy. Human beings are the weakest link in the security chain, and it is important for people to understand their role in keeping company and customer data safe and private.

In order for employees to remain in line with the security policy, additional training is required at regular intervals, and security awareness training forms part of this. As with most policies, changes within the organization, legislation and the law can all affect the security requirements of the organization, and the efficacy of its members. This makes security awareness training especially important if the standards that have been set out previously are to be adhered to in a changing environment.

While part of this training can give a brief overview on the privacy of the individual employee, it is not the main focus of privacy education. Privacy education deals with the way in which companies store customer and employee data within their systems, and how it should and should not be handled. Having this data leaked or stolen presents potentially catastrophic consequences for all involved, so ensuring that this information remains private and confidential is essential. This is where privacy education enters the equation.

Privacy Education Basics

Employees have access to many different information sources that relate to finances: customer information, confidential data, trade secrets, proprietary and intellectual property, and much more. It should therefore come as no surprise that user error can lead to disastrous data breaches and lapses in data privacy, such as customer credit card information theft, or access to restricted online resources such as login details.

Employees can accidentally email confidential information to the wrong recipients, or even reply to an email with the wrong attachment. Email best practice is covered in security awareness training, as email has the potential to expose an entire organization to a whole host of potential security problems if used incorrectly. Users must be made aware of how phishing scams work, as well as how malware can be delivered via email.

Certain information, such as passwords and login details, should never be given out to external parties by any means. Social engineering can allow hackers to gain easy access to systems and company resources without even having to hack anything. Privacy education covers the few acceptable circumstances when this type of information can be divulged, and when it is not safe to do so without risking data privacy.

Privacy education should also help business owners understand how they relay information about their privacy policies to clients and partners, and why it is necessary to do so. It is also a good opportunity for policy review, and can lead to a new understanding of how policy violations are currently handled, and if there is room for improvement. Privacy education’s main goal is to help an organization understand how much damage could be done to their reputation, and ultimately, their bottom line in the event of a data privacy breach.

Customer Data Privacy

Another aspect of privacy training is that of customer information and data. Your employees are often in direct contact with sensitive or confidential information that relates to your customer base, which means that your employees need to be trained to handle this data and keep it secure.

Keeping this valuable information secure can also mean that advanced security measures such as file encryption and limited access are also employed within the organization. This means that employees who accidentally reveal information jeopardizing the security of the organization are still buffered by data protection technologies, or restricted file systems.

Openness and transparency are essential as a means of communicating with all concerned parties that do business with the organization, especially where customer data is concerned. This means that when there are problems, everyone that could potentially be affected needs to be informed sooner rather than later. This ultimately helps to shape the organization’s security position, and leads to better relations with customers, suppliers and strategic partners.


Privacy education is an essential tool at your disposal when tackling security awareness training. It gives your employees the tools that they need when interacting with the data within the organization, whether it be customer data, or employee information.

All of these different data sources need to be kept safe, secure and most important of all, private. Much of this behavior will be determined by the organization’s security policies, which should touch on the subject of data privacy. Employers must act responsibly with user and customer data on the network, and ensure that the best possible security measures are in place to maintain data privacy and security. All of these security measures are covered in privacy education, which is why it is an essential part of security awareness training.



Corporate Data Privacy — It’s the Right Thing to Do, Virtru Security Insights

Security Awareness Training, UC Santa Cruz

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Jackson Lewis, Employee Privacy and Data Security Training

Graeme Messina
Graeme Messina

Graeme is an IT professional with a special interest in computer forensics and computer security. When not building networks and researching the latest developments in network security, he can be found writing technical articles and blog posts at InfoSec Resources and elsewhere.