The majority of modern cyber-attacks result from unintentional human error and poor cybersecurity etiquette. For this reason, many well-known attacks, such as ransomware, often use social engineering techniques. This means cybersecurity software and policies lose much of their effectiveness if undercut by poor cyber-hygiene. Companies must treat cybersecurity as a team effort, combining secure individual behaviors and awareness through clear and simple policies. This can be achieved through cultivating a strong cybersecurity workplace culture.
What is Cybersecurity Culture?
Cybersecurity culture includes the values, norms, attitudes and beliefs of employees in an information security context. Enterprises often invest thousands or more in sophisticated software and hardware security while ignoring investment in developing a cyber-conscious workplace. A strong cybersecurity culture means the entire workforce works together to protect company and employee information. Cultivating a cybersecurity culture within your company strengthens existing security measures, fosters strong employee collaboration and can potentially save millions of dollars on attack damage and information loss.
Steps to Building a Cybersecurity Work Culture
It’s important to remember that inadequate cybersecurity doesn’t always stem from a lack of awareness; sometimes, it results from a lack of understanding. Some employees may feel cybersecurity is not their concern or is simply a hindrance to their work. Cybersecurity culture in the workplace must be cultivated over time through various methods. The key is inspiring employees to be cyber-conscious during their day-to-day activities.
Gauge Employee Cybersecurity Awareness
Before any steps can be taken, management must understand what their employees know about cybersecurity and their current actions. This can be achieved through methods like surveys or company-wide emails. In addition, it is vital to understand the attitudes and motivations behind the behaviors you want to change.
Understand Specific Risks
Leaders must understand the specific risks to their company and industry to effectively create policies and inform employees. Being too general can cause confusion among employees and leadership. Then, leaders must address the specific behaviors they are looking to improve that makes the company vulnerable to these risks.
Cybersecurity as a concept can be confusing. Leaders won’t be able to convince their employees to follow cybersecurity etiquette if they don’t understand the concepts. Leaders must take care to explain the company’s security strategy and the role of employees in it. The goal is to demonstrate how a few behavior changes can protect the entire team and clearly define the consequences of inadequate security.
Setting Clear Organizational Policies and Goals
People have to know what is expected of them in the workplace. Leaders must create clear, simple goals for their employees. Policies should clearly communicate what is being done and why and how these measures affect employees and the company. It’s important to inspire employees to engage with the policies without the feeling of punishment or chastisement. It’s not a matter of reward or punishment; adhering to the policies protects the business, and refusing to follow them brings significant risk.
From the Top Down
A successful cybersecurity culture must start with company leadership. Leaders must set the example and foster an environment where cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility, regardless of title or position. Employees are much more likely to follow strong leadership.
Training and education are the most important tools to build a cybersecurity culture, and helping employees understand cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. The goal is to teach employees basic cybersecurity etiquette and break bad behaviors. Therefore, training topics should be related to your company’s specific needs.
Cybersecurity Culture in the Age of Work from Home
The case for cultivating a cybersecurity culture is especially important with millions of employees working remotely. A study from HP Wolf Security showed 48% of employees aged 18–24 believed their company’s security policies were a hindrance, and 31% attempted to circumvent these policies for the sake of business continuity. Combined with the fact that threats have increased dramatically since the large-scale switch to remote work, a cybersecurity culture becomes more important than ever to ensure employees are being cyber conscious when no one is watching. The above steps can be taken to cultivate this culture remotely. Leaders must create policies and measures that can be adopted on devices and networks that are not monitored.
In today’s age, cybersecurity must be treated not just as a process but as a mindset. Humans are the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain, but they are also the greatest agents of change when adopting a security-first mindset. A culture of cybersecurity is one where everyone shares responsibility in keeping business and customer information secure.