How the National Cybersecurity Center is equipping State Leaders, one text at a time.
The National Cybersecurity Center (NCC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to cyber innovation and awareness.
Since its launch in 2016, the NCC has worked to educate thousands of individuals - from grade schoolers to national leaders - on the importance of proper cyber hygiene and security. This year, the Center turned its focus towards a group at particularly high risk of cyber attacks: state legislators. Unlike most state employees, legislators aren’t often required to take any sort of cybersecurity course, despite dealing with important data on a daily basis.
With this in mind, the NCC set out to design Cybersecurity for State Leaders, a cyber hygiene training designed to fill any knowledge gaps and lead legislators through software updates, password protection and more.
We really were looking for something that could help just drive the key points that we needed to make in a really simple, low-barrier manner.
As Program Director Mattie Gullixson began designing this training with VP of Programs, Forrest Senti, accessibility was a top priority. They knew in order to get legislators and their staff to adopt better cyber habits, the training would have to be brief, virtual, easily understandable and maybe even a little fun. The initial solution was simple: an hour long live training session, scheduled to fit the needs of each individual state. While these live sessions allowed the NCC team to cover plenty of information in a relaxed, conversational setting, WiFi and scheduling presented significant hurdles to getting as many participants as possible.
When a colleague mentioned hearing about text message courses, Gullixson and Senti immediately reached out to Arist to schedule a demo, excited by the idea of reaching legislators everywhere without any more scheduling headaches. After a quick call with the Arist team, they were ready to get started.
I think the biggest thing for me is knowing our audience that we were working with, we needed something that would make it as easy and as simple as possible. I can't think of anything with a lower-barrier, easier to get into solution than [text message learning]
Putting the course together
Gullixson and Senti converted their live training session agenda into a 5 day text message course, simple enough to be completed in just a few minutes each day. Each day focused on completing an important task for good cyber hygiene, including setting up Multi Factor Authentication and learning how to encrypt sensitive emails. By the end of the 5 days, participants would have stronger cybersecurity and a wealth of new knowledge on how to keep their technology safe going forward.
Arist is something that we absolutely want to keep as part of our ongoing approach to how we do training, because it is just so simple, not only from the user experience, but even from the management side of it. It's great to be able to track people's progress and see the feedback and all that good stuff. It's just a super simple system
A meaningful impact
Just days after launching the Cybersecurity for State Leaders Arist course, the NCC team could tell that they were reaching entirely new levels of learner engagement. With a 95% completion rate, the course continues to reach new state leaders each day. Gullixson even noticed new states joining in: “We've had states where we had nobody attend a live training, but by sending [the Arist course] out, we had a few people sign up and they've taken the course. And so I think it just speaks to that really low-barrier aspect of the tool.”
Currently, the NCC team is looking into how text message learning can revolutionize their training programs as a whole, and help cybersecurity become as simple as a daily text message.