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KnowBe4 turns cybersecurity training into a spy thriller

Margie Manning

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A scene from "The Inside Man," a cybersecurity training video from KnowBe4.

KnowBe4, a Clearwater-based cybersecurity training firm, is launching a 12-episode video series that brings the pitfalls in office IT security to life.

The series, titled The Inside Man, focuses on an IT security analyst starting a new job where no one suspects he’s already inside their most secure systems, or that sinister forces are pulling his strings.

Stu Sjouwerman, CEO, KnowBe4

“If Netflix would do security awareness training, this is how it would look,” said Stu Sjouwerman, KnowBe4 CEO.

The company helps its clients address the human elements of security by raising awareness about ransomware, CEO fraud and other social engineering tactics. It says workers provide the best defense against attacks, so the training it offers is focused on employees.

In keeping with that, the video storyline features office workers making potential blunders that could lead to breaches and cyberattacks. It also touches on the human cost of cybercrime. There’s a high-energy musical score and camera angles that capture the fast pace of the action, so it resembles a spy thriller.

No other cyber security training company has taken this approach, Sjouwerman said.

“We’re always trying to get our customers fresh content,” he said.  “We created a whole season that gets people introduced to characters they can invest in, and it’s a real environment, an office that easy to recognize, and combined that with making people aware of the risks of certain behaviors, in a compelling episode type format.”

The video series comes on the heels of a significant investment in KnowBe4 by KKR, a global private equity giant, and Ten Eleven Ventures, as well as the company’s continued international expansion. Tools like the video fit with the expansion, Sjouwerman said.

KnowBe4 is making The Inside Man available to its top tier “diamond level” customers, who get access to about 800 training options, including videos, games, posters and interactive computer courses.

The videos were produced in London by Twist & Shout, a United Kingdom-based production company that has worked with global businesses such as Intel, Verizon and Sony.

“This approach to education and awareness, which is principally what this is, works because our brains are hard-wired to think in stories,” Jim Shields, creative director at Twist & Shout, said in a behind-the-scenes video. “When we read a story or see a story, there’s a part of our brain that puts us inside the story. We are living it with the telling of it.”

Sjouwerman and Perry Carpenter, KnowBe4’s chief evangelist and strategy officer, get credits as co-producers. Kevin Mitnick, KnowBe4’s chief hacking officer, makes a cameo appearance in the series, and there’s a photo of Sjouwerman as well.

Sjouwerman hopes to create additional seasons of the video series.

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