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Create a Culture of Cybersecurity at Work with 5 Simple Steps

Paul Hager
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What’s your organization’s cybersecurity culture like? Are people using multi-factor authentication? Does everyone know what a phishing email looks like? Or is cybersecurity the last thing on everyone’s mind most days?

Put simply, cybersecurity culture is the way employees treat security decisions when no one’s watching. Not sure yours is all that great? You’re not alone – 95% of organizations say their current cybersecurity environments aren’t where they need to be.

Why You Need a Strong Cybersecurity Culture

We know that regardless of the size of an organization, your people are your weakest link. That’s why cybercriminals prey on your employees. They capitalize on employees being distracted by daily tasks in the hopes they’ll click a bad link or provide other confidential information that might assist in a complete breach of your network.

Data breaches and cyberattacks can be devastating. They can cost companies an average of $1.2 million in damages. And the disruption to normal operations can cost you an additional almost $2 million. That’s according to a 2019 Ponemon Institute report.

Phishing/social engineering is the #1 attack SMBs experience. Even the best email filtering tools can’t stop them all. The most effective defense against these attacks is trained employees who can spot the scams and avoid them.

A business must ensure that every single employee is educated on the evolving cybersecurity threat landscape and will be as diligent as possible in ensuring the business is secure.

For the most part, security culture has not kept up with changing cyberattacks and hacker tactics. The good news is you can start improving your cybersecurity culture today with these 5 steps.

1. Make Building a Security Culture a Priority

Security isn’t just the IT department’s job – it’s everyone’s responsibility, from the CEO all the way down to the newest hire.

With the publicity of cyberattacks, most businesses recognize it’s important to implement good security practices. But it tends to fall to the bottom of the priority list because it feels daunting or they don’t know where to begin.

Hackers won’t wait until you’re ready before attacking you. It’s time to move cybersecurity culture to the top of your priority list.

Working with a security provider like Elevity can help you get things off the ground. We can customize a solution that works for your organization. We can also identify good tools and resources to nurture your budding culture.

2. Inspire Ownership

Don’t just roll out a bunch of new security initiatives with little or no explanation. That’s a great way to confuse and frustrate your employees.

Before you start adding to or changing the way your company has always done things, take time to "explain the why” to your users. Share the reasoning behind the push to build a stronger cybersecurity culture. Provide examples of how a security culture impacts your business specifically.

Help your employees see that everyone plays an important role in the success of your security measures. Strong security is a group effort. If the company suffers a serious cyberattack, everyone loses. But by working together to prevent such attacks, everybody wins.

3. Provide Good Training

The better the training, the more willing your employees will be to participate. Good cybersecurity training:

  • Connects the user to their own personal investment in IT security
  • Creates a positive sense that greater security is possible
  • Shows users not only how to secure business information, but their personal information as well

Finally – and I can’t emphasize this enough – make it fun! No one wants to sit through a dry lecture on why their current password sucks.

Creating your own training in-house can be prohibitively time-consuming and expensive. So we recommend using a professional training program, like we do here at Elevity. Look for one with up-to-date content that includes a scoring/reporting system. This lets you collect data to use in identifying problem areas and informing future training goals.

There are lots of providers and services that will manage employee training for you, and the cost is minimal compared to the damages incurred should a cyber incident occur. We can recommend some excellent training providers for you based on your budget and needs.

4. Be Consistent

The worst thing a company can do is roll out a cybersecurity initiative one time and never reinforce it. Cybersecurity is not a "set-it-and-forget-it" kind of thing. It requires constant focus and reinforcement. The bad guys aren’t going away because you had one security training.

Education should be ongoing. At a minimum, make cybersecurity training a standard part of your onboarding process and revisit the training annually. Provide training more often if you can. This ensures employees are always educated on the most current threat landscape.

Consistency also means leading by example. If your employees see corporate leadership following security rules and making wise decisions, they’re far more likely to do the same.

Lastly, remember that building or changing a culture takes time. Be patient. By maintaining consistent training and procedures, eventually a better security culture will take root.

5. Adopt a Multi-layered Security Approach

A cybersecurity culture is more than just employee training. It’s your entire approach to security. The best cultures don’t depend on just one tool or method, but many.

Every company should ensure they’ve adopted a multi-layered security approach. Each individual security measure is vulnerable on its own; however, when we layer protections, we depend on the next layer to prevent further incidents.

Sound complicated or unattainable? Actually, it’s not.

Don’t get caught up in the "perfect" security solution. There’s no such thing. The goal for every company is to understand their vulnerabilities, decide on an acceptable level of risk they’re willing to take, and fill those gaps with a solution that works for them—both from a budgetary and operational standpoint.

One more thing. Every business should have a cybersecurity insurance policy as part of their security approach. But don’t assume it’s going to make everything better after a security incident.

The policy will likely cover much of the hard costs to recover from a cyber incident. However, it won’t protect you from soft costs like negative press and damaged reputation – things that could impact your customers’ trust and willingness to do business with your organization.

In other words, it’s better to avoid a cyberattack in the first place by building a security culture and adhering to a multi-layered approach.

Let’s Do This

Having a strong cybersecurity culture can mean the difference between a protected network and a massive data breach.

It’s the company’s responsibility to ensure employees are educated. And it’s the responsibility of every employee to ensure they’re aware and diligent in being as secure as possible.

Creating a good security culture at your organization can seem overwhelming at first, but you don’t have to do it alone. We’re standing by with experienced guidance and effective tools. Ready to take the first step towards better cybersecurity? Let’s talk.

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