Creating a cybersecurity culture is critical, as employees are an organization’s first line of defense against cybercriminals. For this reason, they are also often targeted. In fact, the vast majority (88%) of data breaches are caused by employee error, according to Stanford University. Unfortunately for organizations, a single mistake can result in costly losses, reputational damage, and lost or stolen data.
To keep your organization safe from cybercriminals, cybersecurity must become an integral part of the corporate culture—something that is valued and upheld by every member of the organization. Cybersecurity should be at the forefront of every employee’s mind when choosing whether to click on a link, open an email, or download a document from the web.
This article provides tips for improving employee engagement and creating a cybersecurity culture that helps protect your organization from cybercriminals.
Cybersecurity culture explained
An organization̵7;s security culture will not grow by itself. To transform safety training into everyday practices, organizations must invest in their safety culture and continually nurture it. A strong and resilient cybersecurity culture can benefit an organization in a number of ways, including:
- Protects the organization against cyber threats and data breaches
- Strengthens customer trust and loyalty
- Improves brand reputation
Although many organizations recognize the benefits of having a cybersecurity culture, they may fail to create one for several reasons. One of the most common reasons is a lack of employee influence. In fact, one survey found that 60% of organizations do not believe they have successfully achieved employee buy-in for cybersecurity practices. Lack of executive buy-in is also a common cause of failure. This may be due to outdated thinking that cyber security only belongs to the IT department or a lack of understanding of the pervasive nature of the issue.
Fortunately for organizations, the main stumbling blocks to creating a thriving cybersecurity culture can also guarantee success if leveraged effectively.
Best practices for creating a cybersecurity culture
As organizations cultivate a cybersecurity culture, they should consider the following best practices:
- Engage the C-suite. Executives are sometimes resistant to adopting good cyber hygiene. This must change if your organization is to create a successful cybersecurity culture. Employees must see management leading by example if they are to buy into a healthy cybersecurity culture. Encourage leaders to join the conversation and reinforce that cybersecurity is every employee’s responsibility. In addition, senior executives are one of the biggest targets for cybercriminals. Make sure they do their part to uphold cybersecurity values by teaching them how to identify and defend against targeted cyber attacks.
- Inspire Cyber Security Ownership. Clearly communicate the stakes to your employees and explain that your organization needs their help. It is not enough to simply explain changes in security protocols. Make sure employees understand why these changes have been made and what you are trying to do to protect the organization. It is imperative that employees understand that no security system is foolproof and therefore it is up to them to minimize threats and avoid unnecessary risks.
- Create engaging cybersecurity programs. Cybersecurity training should not be presented as a one-time event. If you want your employees to embrace cybersecurity as part of their culture, provide fun training based on real-world experiences. Consider utilizing discussion forums, online games, personal training, and mock phishing tests as part of your holistic approach to cybersecurity learning. Short and frequent lessons are also more digestible and remind employees that cyber awareness is part of their corporate life.
- Bring back the basics. When discussing cybersecurity, many organizations make the mistake of skipping basic training. This can cause confusion and prevent core cybersecurity values from resonating with employees. According to one survey, 50% of all employees have not received formal cybersecurity training, and 96% keep passwords saved on their devices for easy access. As you create and teach good cyber hygiene, don’t forget basic principles like strong password policies, two-factor authentication, and restrictions on security, downloads, and network access.
- Make it simple. Make sure employees know where to report suspicious emails and how to verify the authenticity of work-related communications. Whenever possible, encourage open lines of communication between your employees and the IT department. This will help encourage employees to proactively contact IT for help or to report mistakes.
- Celebrate success. Make cybersecurity part of performance reviews and reward systems. It’s also beneficial to recognize employee successes one-on-one by expressing appreciation or offering rewards for their commitment to your organization’s cybersecurity goals.
We can help.
When workplace cyber security is treated as a simple check-the-box exercise, costly mistakes can occur. Teaching employees to value and take responsibility for their actions can help organizations reduce their chances of becoming victims of a cyber attack.
If you would like additional information and resources, we are here to help you analyze your needs and make the right coverage decisions to protect your business from unnecessary risk. You can download a free copy of our eBook, or if you’re ready make Cyber Liability Insurance part of your insurance portfolio, Request a quote or download and get started with our Cyber & Data Breach Insurance Application then we’ll get started for you.