As cybersecurity technology continues to evolve, the good news is that new tools have delivered on their promise to shore up cyber vulnerabilities, detect threats earlier, and provide rapid countermeasures. The bad news, however, is that technology alone isn’t enough to solve the cybersecurity crisis. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Risks Report, 95% of cybersecurity issues can be traced to human error, and these risks have amplified in the wake of COVID-19 after the shift to remote work. That’s why building a strong cybersecurity culture starts with education and communication.
But what can you do about it? How can organizations help employees do their jobs efficiently while also implementing effective cybersecurity measures?
6 Tips to Build a Strategic Cybersecurity Culture
Unfortunately, cybersecurity has a marketing problem in many organizations. Employees may not always be up to date on the most current policies and best practices. In addition, security protocols sometimes feel burdensome and can make it harder to perform certain tasks if you have to submit an approval ticket when you need additional access.
Ultimately, your cybersecurity program is only as effective as your people. Let’s take a look at 6 ways you can prioritize cybersecurity at every level of your company.
1. Articulate Risk
Everyone knows about the dangers of weak passwords and phishing attacks, right? Maybe not. According to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, 61% of data breaches involved an issue with credentials.
The first step in solving this problem is to articulate the risks in a clear, accessible way. Explain what’s at stake (customer privacy, product research, intellectual property, personal data) to make sure employees understand that technology safeguards aren’t impenetrable. They need the support and compliance of all team members in order to be most effective.
2. Evaluate Cybersecurity Policies
Cybersecurity policies should cover both technical and behavioral guidelines for threat mitigation. Evaluate your policies on a regular basis to ensure they are up to date and cover all new tools.
Policies should provide roadmaps for each level of the organization including executives, IT personnel, departments, and individuals. They should also document your cyber incident response plan in the event of a cyber-attack.
3. Evaluate Cybersecurity Tools
Use a range of tools to remove as much risk of human error as possible. Cybersecurity tools can help you automate all parts of your security plan, from risk identification to human behavior to incident response. Here are some key tools to consider:
- Privileged Access Management (PAM) – PAM tools protect against the risk of attack through unauthorized privileged access. They keep the doors to your systems locked and prevent unauthorized sharing of the keys to the kingdom. With PAM, you can provide access only when it is needed and remove it when the task is finished. This way, you can prevent exploitation of privileged accounts through password sharing, hacking, or failure to follow password best practices.
- Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) – MFA works hand in hand with PAM to ensure that only authorized individuals have access. It requires users to verify their identity in multiple ways so it’s more difficult for hackers to break through. A lot of companies think they are using MFA when they are not, so take time to evaluate which tools you’re using and ensure they are implemented correctly.
- Threat Protection – There are multitudes of tools on the market designed to protect your system from threats and mitigate risks. These include firewalls, network scanning software, intrusion detection software, and many more. Work with your CISO to evaluate and update your tech stack on a regular basis to ensure the best protection.
4. Prioritize Security From the Top Down
Cybersecurity starts in the C-suite. When company executives understand how cybersecurity aligns with business strategy, they can take the lead in building a corporate culture of security awareness.
Senior executives make attractive targets for cyber criminals because of their high level of access to sensitive information and mission-critical systems. They need training just as much as the rank and file, if not more so. Cybersecurity awareness in the C-suite should focus on their increased vulnerability, why they are top targets, and how their actions will set the tone throughout the organization.
5. Educate and Build Awareness
Security training during new employee onboarding is a good start, but not always enough to keep security protocols front of mind. Cybersecurity education should be an ongoing training initiative that includes:
- Regular Security Updates – Keep employees informed about new technologies and applications, and document how security protocols apply in each new scenario.
- Security Audits – Random security audits can be a helpful way to check in with teams and determine whether policies are followed at the ground level.
- Visual Reminders – Posting security policies in visible places – whether online or in the office – can provide in-the-moment reminders that keep those policies front and center.
- Online Courses – Build security training into your ongoing professional development and provide regular refreshers about both the what and the why of cybersecurity.
6. Make it Easy and Rewarding
Ultimately, your cybersecurity policies are only effective when they are implemented and followed in your company. Make it easy for your employees to follow stated policies by including steps and contact information for reporting incidents and asking questions. Reward good behavior with incentives, and use engaging training tools like microlearning modules, plain-English presentations, and experiential learning.
Make Cybersecurity a Daily Habit
In his excellent book, Atomic Habits, James Clear explains that taking regular action is more important than simply generating motion when it comes to producing desired behavior. As you work to implement your cybersecurity strategy, identify small critical actions your teams can take to integrate cybersecurity into their workflow. For example, you might start with regular reminders to backup up critical files, change passwords frequently, and verify links.
As cybersecurity becomes part of the daily workflow and language of your culture, you’ll be able to reduce threats, protect sensitive information, and help employees work efficiently and safely.