Understanding the Security Awareness Maturity Model: A Key Aspect in Cybersecurity Strategy

The world of cybersecurity is one that is rapidly evolving, presenting enterprises with new challenges each day. One tool that provides a comprehensive approach in equipping organizations to face these challenges is the 'security awareness maturity model'. This model has emerged as a fundamental structure for developing, implementing, and refining a strategic and effective security awareness program.

Drawing from the cybersecurity industry's best practices, this model aims to offer a pathway for progressing an organization's human-centric security practices. The ultimate goal being creating a security-forward culture where every user becomes a part of the defense mechanism.

What is the Security Awareness Maturity Model?

The 'security awareness maturity model' is a structured guideline that allows organizations to gauge their current level of user security awareness and provides a roadmap towards an advanced and mature state. It consists of five stages: Non-existent, Compliance-Focused, Promoting Awareness, Long-Term Change, and Metrics Framework.

The Five Stages Of the Model


In this initial stage, there is no security awareness program in place. Users are usually unaware of their cyber risks, making the organization vulnerable to security threats.


In the compliance-focused stage, the organization forms a security awareness program, mainly to meet regulatory requirements. The program primarily focusses on 'what not to do', providing users with a list of restrictions and rules to follow. However, it only marginally improves the security posture as users don't truly understand the implications.

Promoting Awareness

At the promoting awareness stage, organizations aim to educate their users about cyber threats and vulnerabilities. Users are trained to identify and handle cyber risks, thereby gradually becoming an active part of the organization's security program.

Long-Term Change

This stage signifies a shift from promoting awareness to encouraging behavioral change. The security awareness program moves beyond training to inculcate secure habits and behaviors. It also involves rewarding positive behavior and providing continuous reinforcement through regular education and training.

Metrics Framework

The final stage of the 'security awareness maturity model' is marked by metrics. Organizations now have a mechanism to measure the effectiveness of their security awareness program. They use these measurements to refine their strategies, ensuring continuous improvement and growth.

Implementing the Security Awareness Maturity Model

Effective implementation of this model requires a consistent and strategic effort. It starts with assessing the current stage of your organization, establishing where you stand, and where you need to go. Following this, you need to identify the resources required, strategize your program and execute it.


Use the model to assess your current security awareness level. This involves identifying the organization's current activities, evaluating if they are effective and benchmarking them against the model's stages.


Based on your assessment, develop a strategic plan to progress to the next stage. This plan should comprise goals, timelines, resource allocation, and success metrics. The plan will provide a concrete framework for your efforts.


Implement the plan by employing the requisite resources and strategies. This could involve activities like training, campaigns, testing, and measurement. Ensure that these activities are aligned with your goals and objectives.

Measurement and Refinement

Lastly, measure the effectiveness of your efforts using the metrics defined during the planning stage. Use these insights to refine your plan, making necessary adjustments to ensure continuous growth and improvement.

The Importance of the Security Awareness Maturity Model

The 'security awareness maturity model' plays a crucial role in bolstering an organization's defense against cyber threats. Here are a few reasons it's considered quintessential:

Progressive Approach

This model offers a roadmap that guides organizations from a basic to an advanced level of security awareness. It presents a systematic and sequential approach to security awareness, thereby enabling progressive growth.


The model is designed for usability. It is straightforward and easy to understand, making it suitable for organizations of all sizes and sectors. It doesn't need any specialized knowledge for implementation, making it accessible to all.

Provision for Measurement

The final stage of the model includes the use of metrics, providing a rigorous system for measuring the effectiveness of your program. This facilitates continuous improvement and growth.

In conclusion, the 'security awareness maturity model' provides a strategic, structured, and measurable approach to enhance your organization's security awareness. Its implementation not only helps protect against existing threats but also builds an adaptable and resilient defense mechanism for future challenges. By leveraging this model, organizations can work towards a safer cybersecurity landscape, where each user is a well-informed participant in the overall security apparatus.

John Price
Chief Executive Officer
September 28, 2023
4 minutes

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