Cybersecurity ain’t just an IT problem. For companies to stay safe, regular employees need to get savvy too. Tech alone can’t block every attack – people are your strongest defense! But how do you get staff to care about security beyond just complying with pesky rules?
Here are some tried and proven ways to build a security-first culture across your organization.
Make Security Part of Your Company Culture
Policies go nowhere if management doesn’t buy in. Want real change? Get executives modeling good security behavior. Their actions speak volumes.
- Gain buy-in from executives and managers. Highlight the hard costs of security breaches and how good security boosts competitive advantage. Let them know how skimping on security hurts profits and reputation – bet that gets their attention! Security best practices set the tone when all the bosses follow them.
- Start on day one. Onboard new hires with security training on day one. Initial training lays the groundwork for developing security-first instincts. Establish those secure instincts up front before bad habits are formed.
- Reinforce regularly. Keep it fresh with regular reminders. Monthly drills make security practices second nature, not one-and-done training. Incorporate security into ongoing training and communications. Creating a sense of shared responsibility and vigilance makes policies feel purposeful rather than restrictive.
Provide Engaging, Role-Specific Security Awareness Training
Let’s be honest – security lessons can induce some serious snoozing. Mix it up with interactive videos, games and friendly contests! Tailor it to people’s specific roles too.
- Go beyond the basics. Explain the “why” behind controls, not just the “what.” Help folks understand how policies tie back to business goals and their own interests. Providing meaningful context for policies and procedures is better than simplistic warnings. Explain how security measures tie back to business objectives and employee interests.
- Get creative. Simulated phishing campaigns, quizzes and group games create a little healthy competition. Way more effective than just lecturing!
- Stay current. Update programs frequently as threats evolve. Keep it fresh and people stay invested in protecting the organization.
Encourage Speaking Up
Employees should feel comfortable asking questions and raising issues proactively. Promote transparency and reporting without fear of blame.
- Welcome input. Ask for feedback to improve security measures. Insight from the front lines is gold for improving programs.
- Standardize reporting. Create clear protocols for reporting suspicious activity or potential incidents. Make it easy for all employees to find reporting channels. Quick action saves major headaches.
- Reward speaking up. Don’t embarrass or blame people for speaking up. Recognize those who surface security concerns, even minor ones, rather than dismiss them. Validate their concern and coach gently.
Incentivize Secure Practices
For real motivation, emphasize rewards over punishments. Positive reinforcement works better than punishments. Use rewards and recognition to motivate security-conscious behavior.
- Make it a game. Maintain interest in training programs by adding points, performance metrics, and friendly competition. Make sure you reward active participation.
- Highlight successes. Celebrate employees who consistently model ideal behavior. Public praise motivates others to take heed.
- Correct gently. If policies are violated, use it as a teaching moment. Remind staff of proper protocols without accusations of blame.
Instill Shared Ownership of Security
Fighting hackers is a team effort. Avoid an “IT’s job” mentality by stressing collective security ownership. Every employee has skin in the game when it comes to security. Cultivating individual and collective responsibility creates a human firewall.
- Emphasize teamwork. IT/security teams cannot implement policies alone. Present security as a group effort, with every employee playing an important support role.
- Encourage vigilance. Employees should notice and speak up about odd behaviors or anomalies they encounter in their everyday work.
- Make it personal. Highlight how lax security puts their own interests – like personal data and bank accounts – at risk as well. Leaks in security can hurt more than just the company’s bottom line.
Cybersecurity training is an investment that pays exponential dividends in risk reduction. The best defense against attacks is having employees who understand security protocols and threats. With creativity and commitment, you can build a culture where “security savvy” is baked into everything you do.