LDR433: Managing Human Risk

SANS Security Awareness Professional (SSAP)
SANS Security Awareness Professional (SSAP)
  • In Person (3 days)
  • Online
18 CPEs

Security leaders realize that cybersecurity is no longer just a technical issue but also a human one. Their greatest challenge now has become how to most effectively manage their human risk, as people are involved in over 80% of all breaches. Many organizations attempt to address this by running security awareness programs, but far too often most programs are compliance focused, nothing more than mandatory annual training. As a result, not only is their workforce highly insecure, but most of their workforce has a very negative perception of cybersecurity. This course enables organizations to effectively manage and measure their human risk by changing people's behavior and building a strong security culture.

What You Will Learn

People have become the primary attack vector. Manage your human risk.

Learn the key lessons and the roadmap to build a mature awareness program that will truly engage your workforce, change their behavior and ultimately manage your human risk. Apply models such as the BJ Fogg Behavior Model, AIDA Marketing funnel, and Golden Circle, and learn about the Elephant vs. the Rider. Concepts include how to assess and prioritize your top human risks and the behaviors that manage those risks, how to engage, train and secure your workforce by changing their behaviors and culture, and how to measure the impact and value of that change.

The course content is based on lessons learned from hundreds of programs from around the world. You will learn not only from your instructor, but from extensive interaction with your peers. Finally, through a series of labs and exercises, you will develop your own custom plan to implement as soon as you return to your organization.

"This is an absolutely fantastic course. Lance is a great presenter and held my interest through the entire course. The material is so valuable, I can't wait to go back and map out my plans on how I'm going to use it." - Lesley Swann, Baker Donelson


  • Align your security awareness program with your organization's strategic security priorities
  • Effectively identify, prioritize and manage your organization's top human risks.
  • More closely integrate your security awareness efforts with your security team'soverall risk management efforts.
  • Make the most of your investment by sustaining your program long term, going beyond changing behavior to embedding a strong security culture
  • Communicate and demonstrate the value of the change to your senior leadership in business terms


  • Master how to map and benchmark your program's maturity against your peers'.
  • Understand the Security Awareness Maturity Model and how to leverage it as the roadmap for your program
  • Ensure compliance with key standards and regulations
  • Implement models for learning theory, behavioral change, and cultural analysis
  • Define human risk and explain the three different variables that constitute it
  • Explain risk assessment processes
  • Leverage the latest in Cyber Threat Intelligence and describe the most common tactics, techniques, and procedures used in today's human-based attacks
  • Identify, measure, and prioritize your human risks and define the behaviors that manage those risks
  • Define what security culture is and the common indicators of a strong security culture
  • Explain your organization's overall culture and how to most effectively align cybersecurity with and embed into your organization's culture
  • Measure the impact of your program, track reduction in human risk, and how to communicate to senior leadership the value of the program.


A big part of the course is not only learning but applying what you learn working as groups with your peers. Not only does this provide you a far better understanding and application of course content, but enables you to interact and learn from others. This three section course has eight interactive labs. Each lab is approximately 30 minutes to complete as a team, with another 20-30 minutes of group discussion.

  • Section 1: Determine Your Program'sMaturity Level, Creating an Advisory Board, Identify and Prioritize the Top Human Risks to Your Organization
  • Section 2: Identify and Prioritize the Key Behaviors that Manage Your Top Human Risks, Leverage the AIDA Model to Sell MFA, Putting it All Together, Creating an Engagement Plan
  • Section 3: Define Your Organization'sCulture, Measuring a Key Human Risk and Behaviors that Manage that Risk

What LDR433 Students Are Saying About the Labs

"Just what I needed." - Philippe Vaquer, Bureau Veritas

"Incredibly useful and supportive to the learning." - William Edwards, HM Land Registry

"The labs presented an effective way to grasp the material and present to others for good feedback." - Michael U., US Government

"I enjoyed learning from other attendees during the breakout session. It's really good to hear about how other organizations implement their programs. Sharing best practices has been really insightful."- Angela Childs


  • Section 1: Learn the fundamentals of managing human risk, to include gaining leadership support, behavior change models, and how to assess and prioritize risk .
  • Section 2: Learn how to prioritize the specific behaviors that most effectively manage your human risk. Then how to engage, train and motivate your workforce to change and exhibit those key behaviors.
  • Section 3: Learn how to build and embed a strong security culture, how to measure and communicate the value of your program and how to put a final plan together.

NOTE: This class is designed as a beginner to intermediate level course. Highly experienced security awareness or culture professionals or senior security leaders should consider the more advanced five-day MGT521: Leading Cybersecurity Change: Building a Security-Based Culture.



This course provides you with the opportunity to join the SANS Security Awareness Community Forum, a private, invitation-only community of over 1,500 awareness officers who share resources and lessons learned. In addition, you will receive the following with the course:

  • Printed + Electronic course books that include slides with detailed notes for each slide
  • Printed + Electronic lab book
  • Digital Download Package containing digital copies of all the labs, supplemental materials, reports, templates and examples
  • MP3 audio files of the complete course lecture
  • One 90-day license to a library of awareness content from SANS Security Awareness. Read the FAQ here.


LDR521: Security Culture for Leaders This course takes MGT433 to the next level by teaching you how to leverage the principles of organizational change in order to develop, maintain, and measure a security-driven culture.

LDR512: Security Leadership Essentials for Managers This course provides an overview of how to manage different security technologies, controls, and frameworks, and how they work together. It's an excellent way to better understand how awareness of human risk and knowing how to manage it partners with other elements of security.

LDR514: Security Strategic Planning, Policy, and Leadership This is SANS' most advanced course for senior security leaders, CSOs. and CISOs. It's an excellent way to better understand how awareness of human risk and knowing how to manage it support your organization at a strategic level.

Syllabus (18 CPEs)

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  • Overview

    Section 1 covers the fundamentals by specifically answering what is human risk and how organizations can effectively manage it. We start with students defining the maturity of their existing program and provide a roadmap on how to improve their program maturity. We then cover critical foundations for a successful program; leadership support, a program charter, and an advisory board. We then cover the fundamentals of risk management and how that applies to managing human risk, to include models of behavior change. We finish the day with a process on how to identify and prioritize your top human risks.

    • Benchmarking your program's maturity against your peers
    • Developing and defining an Advisory Board
    • Identifying your top human risks
    • How to map and benchmark your programs maturity
    • The five stages of the Security Awareness Maturity Model
    • The fundamentals of risk and risk management
    • The definition of human risk and the three variables that define it
    • Why humans are so vulnerable and the latest methods cyber attackers use to exploit these vulnerabilities
    • Steps to gain and maintain leadership support for your program
    • How to develop and leverage an effective Advisory Board
    • The B.J. Fogg Behavior Model and how it applies to your overall strategy of changing workforce behavior
    • Developing a strategic plan that prioritizes your organization's human risk, the behaviors to manage those risks, and changing those behaviors.
    • A walk-through on how to conduct a human risk assessment and how to prioritize your organization's top human risks, including leveraging the latest in Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI).
    • How to identify and manage role-based risks
  • Overview

    The second section begins with how to identify the key behaviors that manage your top human risks, to include defining each behavior as a learning objective. We then cover how to change behaviors at an organizational level, starting with the fundamentals of engagement and motivating change, then how to adapt your program to different demographics, cultures and regions. We then go into the many different methods and modalities to train and engage your workforce, ending with a team lab where you apply everything you have learned up to this point.

    • Identifying and prioritizing key behaviors
    • Leverage the AIDA Model to engage and promote behavior change
    • Putting it all together to create an engagement plan for a specific risk
    • Resources for your long-term success
    • Defining learning objectives and how they apply to learning theory
    • How to identify and prioritize the top behaviors that manage your key human risks
    • Fundamentals of engaging and changing human behavior
    • Introduction of the Golden Circle and the importance of "why"
    • How you can effectively create an engagement strategy leveraging marketing models
    • Top tips for effective translation and localization
    • The effective use of imagery, with a focus on diverse or international environments
    • The two different training categories, primary and reinforcement, and the roles of each
    • How to effectively develop and provide instructor-led training (ILT), virtual live training (VLT) and computer-based training (CBT)
    • Different reinforcement methods, including newsletters, infographics, podcasts, microvideos and video shorts, memes, hosted speaker events, hacking demos, scavenger hunts, virtual lunch-and-learns, and numerous other training activities.
    • How to create an effective, long-term incentivization program
  • Overview

    This section begins with culture, specifically defining your organization's overall culture, what security culture is and how to embed a strong security culture into your organization's overall culture. We then cover metrics, starting with why we want metrics and how to use them at a strategic level. We then do a deep dive into how to measure behavior and culture, then strategic metrics and then finally how to communicate the value of your program to leadership in business terms. We finish the class with how to put this all together into an actionable plan with key tips for success.

    • How to understand, define and align security with your organization's overall culture
    • How to manage and measure a specific human risk

    • We start the day with career development, a series of steps you can take to grow your credibility, position and compensation.
    • We explain what organizational culture is and how to define your organization's overall culture
    • We explain what security culture is, the value of a strong security culture and the most common indicators of both a weak and strong security culture.
    • We walk students through how to align with and embed a strong security culture into their existing overall culture.
    • A deep dive into Ambassador Programs
    • Fundamentals of metrics, including why we collect them and how to leverage them strategically
    • How to measure behaviors and their impact to managing human risk
    • How to measure culture
    • Top five strategic metrics senior leaders care about the most
    • How to communicate to senior leaders the value of managing human risk using risk and maturity models
    • Putting an overall plan together
    • Resources for success moving forward

SANS Security Awareness Professional

Organizations seek proven leaders who have the expertise and skills to effectively manage and measure human risk. The SANS Security Awareness Professional (SSAP) provides not only this expertise, but also signifies, documents and certifies that the holder has met the requirements to elevate the overall security behavior of the workforce.

The first step to achieving your SSAP is taking the three-day SANS MGT433 course on building mature awareness programs. In this course, you’ll learn how to:

  • Gain and maintain leadership advocacy for your security awareness program. Identify and document target groups and deploy relevant training.
  • Effectively engage and communicate across the organization, addressing culture, role and generational challenges, nationalities and languages.
  • Sustain your security awareness program, including implementing advanced programs, such as ambassador programs.
  • Understand and use the five stages of the Security Awareness Maturity Model as a benchmark for your awareness program success.
  • Measure the impact of your awareness program, track reduction in human risk and communicate the program's value to leadership.
  • Apply key models for learning theory, behavioral change and cultural analysis.


This is a management course designed for both new security awareness professionals and experienced ones who looking to expand and grow their expertise in managing human risk. While an understanding of cybersecurity risk and/or a technical background can help, it is in no way required.

Author Statement

"Having been actively involved in information security for more than 25 years, I have seen one constant factor: people are the number one attack vector for cyber attackers because we fail to properly invest in and secure them. Once engaged, trained and enabled, your workforce will become your greatest asset, not only to prevent incidents but also to quickly identify and report them, resulting in a far more resilient organization. I am extremely excited about MGT433, as it provides organizations with the skills, resources, and community they need to effectively manage and measure human risk." - Lance Spitzner

"Lance is a great speaker. Love the charisma, the energy, and the banter." - Chris Cioffi, Western Power Distribution

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