Memorial Day Lessons For Your Business

Memorial Day & Security Awareness Training

Memorial Day is a valuable holiday to reflect on those that have served our Country. As we think about this holiday let’s also consider ways to learn from the past and to put these lessons to use in the future.

In thinking about our military, we can take some valuable lessons on the way our military and soldiers are trained and deployed to protect our country.

When our Countries’ new soldiers start their military service, they attend some form of “boot camp”. Boot camp training can be seven to twelve weeks of intensive training depending on the branch of service. The purpose of this intense training is to provide many skills that most Americans do not have growing up.

How do you train an 18-year-old to run towards gunfire instead of away from it?

This act would seem to defy all logic and clearly goes against all human instinct. Boot camp training provides a form of psychological reprogramming to overcome normal human instinct. Through drills and repetitive training recruits are trained to react in new ways and respond as a team towards the attack.

New military recruits are trained to “act and think as a unit”. This concept is at the heart of teamwork and the concept that if one fails we all fail.

We also train all our law enforcement personnel in the same way. Police officers are trained to run towards gunfire and not away from it. When everyone else is trying to escape the danger, our cops are trained to run toward the shooter.

I spent over thirty years in law enforcement including twenty-two years as a U.S. Secret Service agent and I was often asked how I could “jump in front of a bullet”. One of the reasons is because the Secret Service provided intensive training to create muscle memory. So, the response during an incident becomes an instinct and happens without thinking.

The Secret Service also takes the training a step further and requires intensive ongoing training. This ongoing training last for the length of an agents’ career and depending on the agents’ position may increase to match the job duties.

So as U.S. citizens what might we learn from Memorial Day?

It goes without saying, that we need to remember all the Americans that have paid the ultimate sacrifice and died for our freedom. We need to thank all that have served our Country in this capacity.

We also need to think about better ways to protect our Country domestically and learn from the lessons of Memorial Day. As our society changes and terrorism throughout the world evolves we can take a clear lesson from our military and the “boot camp” concept.

This is a concept I deal with every day in our business of cyber security awareness training.

How do you train employees to respond to situations that are risky to a business?

If we think about an “active shooter” incident in a workplace, most businesses have no plan and there has been no training. Without training and preparation, the result will be chaos and complete disorder and confusion.

Why do most businesses and organizations run fire drills? We run these training drills to help employees to be prepared in the event of a fire or disaster. In a successful drill, employees understand the risk associated to the incident and how to respond to best reduce the risk.

How can we use the boot camp and fire drill training examples better in our workplace?

Let’s look at the recent WannaCry ransomware attack. This became an international incident because businesses were not prepared to deal with the crime. Many businesses clearly did not understand the risk of ransomware and did not have a plan in place. There was no training, and the response was disorder and confusion.

So, what is the take away here for businesses:

  • Provide basic “boot camp” type training to all employees on the biggest risk to the business.
  • Insure that the training is ongoing and adapts to the current risk to the organization and employees.
  • Think about ways to change employee behavior to encourage them to think about security as part of their daily common practice. For example, employees are naturally curious and will open every email and click on every link and attachment they get. How can you train employees to stop this behavior and give them the tools to figure out what email messages they should open or what they should do to reduce risk?
  • Think about ways to overcome normal human behavior and train employees on the safest way to handle incidents.
  • Give employees the proper tools to make smarter decisions on the risk facing the business.
  • Conduct drills that train and educate employees on the biggest risk.
  • Work as a team with your employees to ensure that everyone knows the risk and their part in the process. Train as a team and stress teamwork as part of your normal business practices.