6 Ways to Build a Cybersecurity Culture

Cyber security training

Cybersecurity is one of the biggest issues for businesses, no matter their size. There is so much emphasis being put on specific technology to protect from threats, including appliances for network management and automation and the technology to facilitate zero trust architecture.

Even with the right technology, however, you still need to have employees who understand how important cybersecurity is.

Without a culture of cybersecurity, it’s going to be difficult to protect against all threats.

Every week it seems like there are new threats arising.

Some of the biggest issues right now include:

  • Fileless malware and ransomware attacks can go beyond detection controls and bypass them completely. They use the tools and platforms that are already part of a corporate network for the attacks. In general, malware is an enormous threat intended to steal or delete data or hijack core functions. Malware can also be used to track user activity without their knowledge.
  • Ransomware attacks are spread through phishing emails primarily, and this really highlights why a culture of cybersecurity is so important. While some threats are getting more sophisticated, phishing remains one of the biggest problems, and yet it’s one that can be in the control of your employees. Phishing can destroy a business because of one mistake your employee makes, perhaps when they’re feeling tired or overwhelmed with other things.
  • Another issue that emphasizes the importance of a cybersecurity culture is called social engineering attacks. These attacks rely on human interaction, and humans can be error-prone, which is why they’re successful. Around 93% of data breaches come from employees who inadvertently engage with a social engineering attack. All this means is that a hacker gets someone to give them access or information. These attacks prey on human emotion.
  • It’s estimated that 54% of businesses that suffer a data breach identify employee or human error as the primary cause.

So what is a cybersecurity culture?

Cybersecurity culture is one in which the role of employee behavior and its potential impact is well-understood.

Security awareness is one part of a cybersecurity culture. This means employees have the knowledge and attitude to assess and react appropriately to threats. Then beyond that, the culture itself depends on using security awareness to put into place certain patterns of behavior.

The following are ways to cultivate a cybersecurity culture.

1. Promote Accountability

First, to create a culture of cybersecurity, you have to make it clear to employees that security is everyone’s responsibility. There’s often the attitude that the IT department is responsible for security, but everyone has to be accountable.

Make security something that ultimately belongs to everyone.

The added benefit of making security something that everyone has ownership over is that employees are likely to also feel ownership in other areas of their work, and that can improve productivity and performance.

So how do you get people to feel ownership over cybersecurity?

First, be transparent in all communication to build a trusting foundation.

Show what the bigger picture is for your organization and how cybersecurity is part of larger goals.

Go over the why’s of everything, and make sure your employees are part of the conversations. Invite their insight, experience, and ideas.

2. Constant Monitoring

When you have an incident response team and the necessary tools and technology to conduct constant monitoring, you’re showing that you prioritize security all the time, and you’re also going to reduce the impact if there is a breach.

When you have in place the tools you need for intelligence and monitoring, you’re empowering your employees.

3. Conduct Regular Training

If you don’t have a cybersecurity-specific training program for your employees, it’s important to invest the time and resources into creating one.

Again, it’s estimated that around 91% of advanced cyberattacks occur through phishing emails, so just providing training on this topic alone could have a significantly positive impact on your business.

Training and development should also be ongoing. Cybersecurity threats and the general landscape are often changing, and training needs to be updated to reflect that.

As part of your training, do simulations to see how employees will respond in the event of a real attack.

For example, with phishing training, you can send out phishing emails and see what happens in terms of how employees respond. Then, you can provide feedback on their responses.

4. Have Remote Work Policies In Place

COVID-19 quickly shifted many people into a place of remote work, and with that comes new security challenges. The dedication to cybersecurity and a culture that prioritizes security can’t be overlooked because employees are working remotely. In fact, it can become even more important.

Along with training and guidelines for general cybersecurity, make sure you have policies and training for employees to stay secure when they are working remotely.

Just like you provide employees with the tools and equipment they need for cybersecurity in the office, do the same for remote workers.

5. Recognize Achievements

Anytime you want to reinforce certain behaviors or create a positive company culture, you should recognize those people who are doing things well.

Cybersecurity is no exception.

Celebrate milestones, such as when someone completes a certain training program.

You might also want to provide opportunities for people to move up in their careers because of their actions regarding cybersecurity. Maybe those employees that seem to really value security have unique promotions available to them, where cybersecurity is part of their actual job role.

6. Culture Starts at the Top

Finally, you can never underestimate the fact that culture starts at the top. If your senior leadership isn’t focused on cybersecurity, how can you expect your employees to be?

Before you build culture, everyone needs to be prioritizing cybersecurity and understanding its importance in not just preventing a large breach but in your day-to-day duties. It can take some initial investment to foster a culture of cybersecurity, but this is going to be a lot less taxing on resources than dealing with a breach.