How to create a sustainable security culture

Employees within an organization are vital to the success of the business but they are also the biggest threat to its security. Is it possible to turn an organization’s biggest attack surface into a critical layer of defense? 

With a strong security culture embedded in your organization, the answer is yes. The question then is how to create a sustainable security culture that drives behavior change to achieve meaningful security outcomes, such as fewer clicks on malicious links, fewer accounting compromise events, and unsuccessful social engineering attacks. 

What is a security culture?

An organization with a sustainable security culture has employees who feel responsible for preventing security incidents and who understand the importance of cybersecurity. They not only understand why it is important, but also feel empowered to act and feel comfortable seeking out help from the security team if they see something suspicious or make a mistake. 

The aim of a security culture should:

  • Be to support employees to continue to learn, be engaged, and be vigilant because they understand their role in security defense
  • Be supported by all employees across the business, from the highest levels down
  • Have policies embedded that are sustainable and supportable. 

Benefits of a strong security culture

A culture is defined as having an established set of values and norms, which are well-known and accepted. “That is who we are. That is what we do.” Your goal is a security culture that feels sustainable because it is accepted as the way things are and should stay, with the notion that all benefit. 

Improved security posture

The organization’s overall security posture improves as well as agility and resilience. Security teams can then detect, respond and resolve security incidents with greater speed and agility. There are benefits in reduced downtime and disruption, with improved productivity and achievement, and far-reaching benefits in growing and thriving as a business. 

Reduced risk

Remote work, cloud migrations, and personal device use all contribute to increased cyber risk. A strong security culture can be more effective in altering unsafe employee behavior because employees understand that cyber dangers are a substantial risk to the organization’s success and may personally affect them if the business was to shut down or even close. 

Employee compliance

You can decrease the likelihood of users making mistakes that result in noncompliance with government regulations and industry standards related to data privacy and protection, which can result in fines and other penalties for the company.

Create a sustainable security culture

Building a security culture demands a significant investment in time, effort, resources, and support across the entire company. A few hours of cybersecurity awareness training annually will not induce most users to adopt a security mindset for the long haul. 

Build from the top down

When an organization’s security culture is created, everyone must feel as though they’re working towards its success. It will not be until that mindset is achieved that your security culture will be successful. Everyone, from the CEO to a volunteer, must feel they’re contributing to the security of the corporation. The weakest link in data protection is human error, but employees at all levels of the business can also be the first line of defense. 

Give hard examples

Show employees the ramifications of a cyber attack, such as a data breach, which costs on average $4.24 million. Many employees don’t really think about the cost as being something that will affect them, but a small business that is disrupted and potentially facing huge recovery costs and legal fines will be unlikely to continue. Around 60% of small businesses close within six months of falling victim to a data breach or cyber attack. Employees facing unemployment are more inclined to take information security seriously and avoid potential threats or report them to the security team. 

Focus on security awareness

Most people wish to behave appropriately, but they require instruction on how to do so, and security awareness programs need to be engaging, enjoyable, and frequent. NIST recommends security awareness training for every organization and it should occur as often as possible, to ensure employees are empowered to recognize and address security issues and engage in secure behavior. Look for security awareness training programs that are comprehensive, customizable, and continuous, including gamification for creative and optimal learning. 

Keep employees engaged

Human nature compels us to appreciate being praised and credited for our efforts. Celebrate success when employees complete security awareness training or report a potential cyber threat, such as phishing emails. Companywide acknowledgment of their role in preventing a cybersecurity event can have a big impact, and creates a sense of company community that embeds the idea that every single person is involved in keeping the organization secure. 

Keep it simple

A strong security culture is created when policies are simple and straightforward, and when a supportive security team explains them well. Conversely, a negative security culture is created when policies are complex and poorly communicated, and when they are poorly enforced or enforced through punishment rather than education. Your team should encourage questions and good behavior rather than appearing annoyed by them and then waiting to admonish them. 

Create a thriving security culture with the IT experts

A sustainable security culture is supported by robust security solutions and services. With BCS365 as your managed security service provider, your organization is assured of a unified approach to security management, protecting your data, business processes, and employees at all times. Contact the security consultants at BCS365 today and create a sustainable security culture for your business.