Educating employees about cyber security best practices helps organizations better protect their data and integrity. If protecting your business from cyber threats was as easy as following policies, it would be already solved. Unfortunately, it’s not.
Here are two reasons why.
The first reason is cyber risk. A cyber attack can be devastating, causing a lot of harm to your business and profit. In 2020 alone, data breaches cost businesses an average of $3.86 million. In any system, human beings are the weakest link.
And the second reason is culture. Nowadays, employee behaviors pose a risk — such as leaving passwords on sticky notes under keyboards or writing them down on paper near an unlocked device.
According to a joint study by Stanford University and security firm Tessian, nine out of 10 data breaches happen as the result of employees’ negligence. And that’s a costly affair. However, you can turn employees into one of the most effective security control assets.
Use a Top-Down Approach to Cyber-Risk Awareness
Everyone’s vulnerable to phishing scams, from the receptionist to the CEO. No one is exempt. If you think you’re immune because you have a better grasp on security than everyone else, well, that’s not how it works. Security must be everyone’s job.
The best way to secure a business is to start at the top. A cyber aware culture involves cooperation between departments and ongoing education for all employees, irrespective of how high they are up at the hierarchy.
Whether you’re filling out a security awareness questionnaire or writing your organization’s next policy document, focusing on the following three elements will help you stay true to your cyber aware culture.
- Leadership: Employees look to the company leadership for guidance in managing cyber risks. The leadership can use approaches such as starting a conversation with employees about how they manage their personal and work accounts so that they have a context to understand what is important for the business environment.
- Learning: When onboarding new hires, it is important to create a culture that values cybersecurity. This should be an ongoing effort for you and your team.
- Communications: Communication is key to ensuring that your employees know what cyber risks their company faces and how to mitigate these risks. It’s important that your communications, from your leaders and HR department, are tailored to everyone interested, rather than using just one medium such as email.
The Roadmap for Building a Cyber-Aware Culture
When we talk of a cyber-aware culture, enterprises need to understand that there’s more to it than technology. It’s about people, processes, culture, and engagement. Security leaders need to take a holistic approach to cyber risk management.
For example, getting everyone on board is key to protecting your organization’s information and assets. By working together, you can make cyber security a part of your everyday culture.
The only way to steer clear of cyber fines and compromised customers is by involving employees. Empower your people so they become part of the solution instead of a liability.
Also, evaluate your current state. What is the current state of security awareness in your company? Have you received any feedback from your employees? Have you created any documentation, policies, or processes, and if so, how well did they work?
Are there high-risk behaviors you want to change? Are there threats prevalent or impactful to your industry (e.g., ransomware)? Create a strategy for moving from where you are now to where you want your cyber resiliency to be.
What Not to Do
Don’t wait. Take steps now to prevent a cyberattack. The earlier you cultivate a cyber aware culture, the easier it will be to implement security protocols.
Learning should never stop. One-time annual training sessions are not enough to keep employees on top of their game.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Engage employees in training, awareness and behavioral changes tailored to their role.
Don’t limit yourself to just one-way to communication. Create a multi-channel strategy and reach your corporate audience wherever they are, including multimedia, mobile messaging, and in-person communication tools.
Building a strong security culture takes time. Whether you’re establishing new practices, reviewing old ones or simply revising mnemonics for passwords, it’s important to do things right the first time.
As a leader, your approach to change sets the pace of progress. The time you take to make things clear and precise will go a long way in building safe practices and minimizing vulnerabilities.
With the right attitude, you’ll get there eventually. Just remember to start small and be patient.
Rakesh Soni is CEO of LoginRadius, a leading provider of cloud-based digital identity solutions. The LoginRadius Identity Platform serves over 3,000 businesses and secures one billion digital identities worldwide. LoginRadius has been named as an industry leader in the customer identity and access management space by Gartner, Forrester, KuppingerCole, and Computer Weekly.
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