Notification: Notification: Visit our COVID-19 resource center - Learn More >

Creating a Culture of Cyber Security Awareness

Brushed silver lock sitting on laptop keyboardThe degree of risk from cyber security threats that companies across industries are facing has grown rapidly in recent years. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global State of Information Security report, cyber security incidents ballooned by 38 percent from 2014 to 2015. This growing threat puts sensitive data and organizational security in peril, and taking steps to address these cyber security concerns has become critical for all organizations. Ultimately, creating a corporate culture that promotes cyber security awareness, as well as compliance with key cyber security initiatives, is necessary to adequately combat these growing concerns.

Creating a Cyber Security Culture

Although cyber security is a complex issue, too often organizations reduce the problem purely to the technical solutions needed to safeguard the business. This ignores the fact that all your departments and employees are involved in protecting your company’s valuable and sensitive data—not just your IT department. Crafting a culture where all employees see themselves as having an active cyber security role is key to effectively addressing the cyber security threats that you face. These three tips can help lay the foundation for such a culture.

1. Draft a Plan that Incorporates Cyber Security Best Practices

Crafting a cyber security culture is an ongoing process that requires understanding your organization’s strengths and weaknesses regarding both cyber security itself and awareness of the issues. Creating a realistic plan in the face of these strengths and weakness and incorporating cyber security best practices into your goals can help promote an active cyber security culture.

Key components of any plan should include procedures for communication in the case of a cyber security attack and a process for maintaining important contact information remotely. In case of a cyber security incident, communicating with your business’s customers may also be necessary, both to maintain your brand reputation and to meet legal requirements; be certain that your plan addresses this important area.

2. Launch Cyber Security Education Initiatives for Your Employees

Your employees are your first line of defense against a cyber security attack. Adequately informing them of how to identify and respond to risks is key, and a program of cyber security education is one of the easiest ways to bring all your employees into this cyber security culture.

The first step in any cyber security education initiative is ensuring that every employee understands the importance of cyber security and the role that they can play in supporting it within your organization. From this foundation, move on to specific measures such as best practices regarding passwords and how to maintain a clean machine. Make sure that all employees understand communication procedures in case of a network outage.

Remember that most of your employees are not IT experts; keep your rules and expectations as clear and simple as possible.

3. Emphasize the Importance of Cyber Security Communication

Proper communication regarding your cyber security policies and guidelines goes together with employee education. After all, members of your organization can’t be expected to follow practices that they don’t know about.

When crafting your company’s cyber security communication policies, keep in mind that over-communicating is better than under-communicating. Any group communication services should be tested frequently to ensure that your employees are well-acquainted with your communication channels.

In addition to informing employees about cyber security best practices, your communication policies should also have guidelines for quickly informing employees about emergency situations such as system outages. If your employees know what communications they will receive in these situations, your cyber security preparedness will increase dramatically.

Cyber criminals continue to evolve and adapt their methods; organizations must do the same in response, and this starts with implementing a culture of cyber security awareness.