Special Publications page
Table of Contents for
Special Publication 800-12:
Introduction & Overview
Table of Contents
Roles & Responsibilities
A Brief Overview
Computer Security Policy
Security & Planning in
the Computer Security
Personnel / User Issues
Preparing for Contingencies
Security Considerations in
Logical Access Control
Assessing and Mitigating
the Risks to a Hypothetical
a printable copy of Chapter 13.
Both the dissemination and the enforcement of policy are critical issues that are implemented and strengthened through training programs. Employees cannot be expected to follow policies and procedures of which they are unaware. In addition, enforcing penalties may be difficult if users can claim ignorance when caught doing something wrong.
Training employees may also be necessary to show that a standard of due care has been taken in protecting information. Simply issuing policy, with no follow-up to implement that policy, may not suffice.
Many organizations use acknowledgment statements, which state that employees have read and understand computer security requirements. (An example is provided in Chapter 10.)
Awareness stimulates and motivates those being trained to care about security and to remind them of important security practices. Explaining what happens to an organization, its mission, customers, and employees if security fails motivates people to take security seriously.
Awareness can take on different forms for particular audiences. Appropriate awareness for management officials might stress management's pivotal role in establishing organizational attitudes toward security. Appropriate awareness for other groups, such as system programmers or information analysts, should address the need for security as it relates to their job. In today's systems environment, almost everyone in an organization may have access to system resources -- and therefore may have the potential to cause harm.
Awareness is used to reinforce the fact that security supports the mission of the organization by protecting valuable resources. If employees view security as just bothersome rules and procedures, they are more likely to ignore them. In addition, they may not make needed suggestions about improving security nor recognize and report security threats and vulnerabilities.
Awareness also is used to remind people of basic security practices, such as logging off a computer system or locking doors.
Techniques. A security awareness program can use many teaching methods, including video tapes, newsletters, posters, bulletin boards, flyers, demonstrations, briefings, short reminder notices at log-on, talks, or lectures. Awareness is often incorporated into basic security training and can use any method that can change employees' attitudes.
Effective security awareness programs need to be designed with the recognition that people tend to practice a tuning out process (also known as acclimation). For example, after a while, a security poster, no matter how well designed, will be ignored; it will, in effect, simply blend into the environment. For this reason, awareness techniques should be creative and frequently changed.
The purpose of training is to teach people the skills that will enable them to perform their jobs more securely. This includes teaching people what they should do and how they should (or can) do it. Training can address many levels, from basic security practices to more advanced or specialized skills. It can be specific to one computer system or generic enough to address all systems.
Training is most effective when targeted to a specific audience. This enables the training to focus on security-related job skills and knowledge that people need performing their duties. Two types of audiences are general users and those who require specialized or advanced skills.
General Users. Most users need to understand good computer security practices, such as:
In addition, general users should be taught the organization's policies for protecting information and computer systems and the roles and responsibilities of various organizational units with which they may have to interact.
In teaching general users, care should be taken not to overburden them with unneeded details. These people are the target of multiple training programs, such as those addressing safety, sexual harassment, and AIDS in the workplace. The training should be made useful by addressing security issues that directly affect the users. The goal is to improve basic security practices, not to make everyone literate in all the jargon or philosophy of security.
Specialized or Advanced Training. Many groups need more advanced or more specialized training than just basic security practices. For example, managers may need to understand security consequences and costs so they can factor security into their decisions, or system administrators may need to know how to implement and use specific access control products.
There are many different ways to identify individuals or groups who need specialized or advanced training. One method is to look at job categories, such as executives, functional managers, or technology providers. Another method is to look at job functions, such as system design, system operation, or system use. A third method is to look at the specific technology and products used, especially for advanced training for user groups and training for a new system. This is further discussed in the section 13.6 of this chapter.
Techniques. A security training program normally includes training classes, either strictly devoted to security or as added special sections or modules within existing training classes. Training may be computer- or lecture-based (or both), and may include hands-on practice and case studies. Training, like awareness, also happens on the job.
Security education is more in-depth than security training and is targeted for security professionals and those whose jobs require expertise in security.
Techniques. Security education is normally outside the scope of most organization awareness and training programs. It is more appropriately a part of employee career development. Security education is obtained through college or graduate classes or through specialized training programs. Because of this, most computer security programs focus primarily on awareness and training, as does the remainder of this chapter.97
An effective computer security awareness and training (CSAT) program requires proper planning, implementation, maintenance, and periodic evaluation. The following seven steps constitute one approach for developing a CSAT program.99
13.6.1 Identify Program Scope, Goals, and Objectives
The first step in developing a CSAT program is to determine the program's scope, goals, and objectives. The scope of the CSAT program should provide training to all types of people who interact with computer systems. The scope of the program can be an entire organization or a subunit. Since users need training, which relates directly to their use of particular systems, a large organization wide program may need to be supplemented by more specific programs. In addition, the organization should specifically address whether the program applies to employees only or also to other users of organizational systems.
Generally, the overall goal of a CSAT program is to sustain an appropriate level of protection for computer resources by increasing employee awareness of their computer security responsibilities and the ways to fulfill them. More specific goals may need to be established. Objectives should be defined to meet the organization's specific goals.
13.6.2 Identify Training Staff
There are many possible candidates for conducting the training including internal training departments, computer security staff, or contract services. Regardless of who is chosen, it is important that trainers have sufficient knowledge of computer security issues, principles, and techniques. It is also vital that they know how to communicate information and ideas effectively.
13.6.3 Identify Target Audiences
Not everyone needs the same degree or type of computer security information to do their jobs. A CSAT program that distinguishes between groups of people, presents only the information needed by the particular audience, and omits irrelevant information will have the best results. Segmenting audiences (e.g., by their function or familiarity with the system) can also improve the effectiveness of a CSAT program. For larger organizations, some individuals will fit into more than one group. For smaller organizations, segmenting may not be needed. The following methods are some examples of ways to do this.
Segment according to level of awareness. Individuals may be separated into groups according to their current level of awareness. This may require research to determine how well employees follow computer security procedures or understand how computer security fits into their jobs.
Segment according to general job task or function. Individuals may be grouped as data providers, data processors, or data users.
Segment according to specific job category. Many organizations assign individuals to job categories. Since each job category generally has different job responsibilities, training for each will be different. Examples of job categories could be general management, technology management, applications development, or security.
Segment according to level of computer knowledge. Computer experts may be expected to find a program containing highly technical information more valuable than one covering the management issues in computer security. Similarly, a computer novice would benefit more from a training program that presents introductory fundamentals.
Segment according to types of technology or systems used. Security techniques used for each off-the-shelf product or application system will usually vary. The users of major applications will normally require training specific to that application.
13.6.4 Motivate Management and Employees
To successfully implement an awareness and training program, it is important to gain the support of management and employees. Consideration should be given to using motivational techniques to show management and employees how their participation in the CSAT program will benefit the organization.
Management. Motivating management normally relies upon increasing awareness. Management needs to be aware of the losses that computer security can reduce and the role of training in computer security. Management commitment is necessary because of the resources used in developing and implementing the program and also because the program affects their staff.
Employees. Motivation of managers alone is not enough. Employees often need to be convinced of the merits of computer security and how it relates to their jobs. Without appropriate training, many employees will not fully comprehend the value of the system resources with which they work.
Some awareness techniques were discussed above. Regardless of the techniques that are used, employees should feel that their cooperation will have a beneficial impact on the organization's future (and, consequently, their own).
13.6.5 Administer the Program
There are several important considerations for administering the CSAT program.
Visibility. The visibility of a CSAT program plays a key role in its success. Efforts to achieve high visibility should begin during the early stages of CSAT program development. However, care should be give not to promise what cannot be delivered.
Training Methods. The methods used in the CSAT program should be consistent with the material presented and tailored to the audience's needs. Some training and awareness methods and techniques are listed above (in the Techniques sections). Computer security awareness and training can be added to existing courses and presentations or taught separately. On-the-job training should also be considered.
Training Topics. There are more topics in computer security than can be taught in any one course. Topics should be selected based on the audience's requirements.
Training Materials. In general, higher-quality training materials are more favorably received and are more expensive. Costs, however, can be minimized since training materials can often be obtained from other organizations. The cost of modifying materials is normally less than developing training materials from scratch.
Training Presentation. Consideration should be given to the frequency of training (e.g., annually or as needed), the length of training presentations (e.g., twenty minutes for general presentations, one hour for updates or one week for an off-site class), and the style of training presentation (e.g., formal presentation, informal discussion, computer-based training, humorous).
13.6.6 Maintain the Program
Computer technology is an ever-changing field. Efforts should be made to keep abreast of changes in computer technology and security requirements. A training program that meets an organization's needs today may become ineffective when the organization starts to use a new application or changes its environment, such as by connecting to the Internet. Likewise, an awareness program can become obsolete if laws or organization policies change. For example, the awareness program should make employees aware of a new policy on e-mail usage. Employees may discount the CSAT program, and by association the importance of computer security, if the program does not provide current information.
13.6.7 Evaluate the Program
It is often difficult to measure the effectiveness of an awareness or training program. Nevertheless, an evaluation should attempt to ascertain how much information is retained, to what extent computer security procedures are being followed, and general attitudes toward computer security. The results of such an evaluation should help identify and correct problems. Some evaluation methods (which can be used in conjunction with one another) are:
Training can, and in most cases should, be used to support every control in the handbook. All controls are more effective if designers, implementers, and users are thoroughly trained.
Policy. Training is a critical means of informing employees of the contents of and reasons for the organization's policies.
Security Program Management. Federal agencies need to ensure that appropriate computer security awareness and training is provided, as required under the Computer Security Act of 1987. A security program should ensure that an organization is meeting all applicable laws and regulations.
Personnel/User Issues. Awareness, training, and education are often included with other personnel/user issues. Training is often required before access is granted to a computer system.
13.8 Cost Considerations
The major cost considerations in awareness, training, and education programs are:
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Code of Federal Regulations. 5 CFR 930. Computer Security Training Regulation.
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often-cited goal of training is changing people's attitudes. This
chapter views changing attitudes as just one step toward changing
July 6, 2007