How to Create a Strong Security Culture at Your Workplace

In today’s world, cybersecurity threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Organizations may need more than the latest technologies and software to protect their assets. Instead, businesses need a strong security culture to ensure everyone knows the risks and how to mitigate them.

But what impact does a strong security culture have on a business? How can you tell if your current culture is acceptable or if there are opportunities for improvement? What does a healthy security culture look like, and how do you create one?

Read on to learn the answers to these questions and more!

What is Security Culture, and Why is it Important?

In the modern era, security has become a critical issue for virtually every business. With around 236.1 million ransomware attacks occurring globally in the first half of 2022, cybersecurity should be at the top of every company’s priority list. Numbers alone may not convince employees that they need to take cybersecurity seriously, however. To do this, you need a thoughtful security culture.

But what is security culture, exactly? Simply put, it’s the collective awareness of all employees towards cybersecurity. A strong security culture is one where all members of the organization are actively engaged in protecting sensitive information and assets, where security is seen as a shared responsibility and not just the job of security professionals.

So, does your organization have a strong security culture? If you’re unsure, you need to step back and assess your company’s current value and attitudes towards security.

Taking Stock: What Does Your Current Security Culture Look Like?

If you want to establish a strong security culture, you must first learn where the gaps and weaknesses are in your existing policies. Here are a few actions you can take to get you started:

Identify Your Assets

You can’t adequately protect your business if you’re unsure of what you’re safeguarding in the first place. Establish the documents, applications, and other data critical to your business. In addition to being necessary to function, these will also be the prime target for attackers.

Make Note of How Your Assets are Currently Protected

Are sensitive directories sheltered by access control and detailed user permissions? What is in the public cloud that can move into a private cloud for additional security? These are the questions you should answer to see where things can improve.

Learn Which Threats Are Most Prevalent to Your Business

You also need to identify the specific threats that businesses in your industry deal with and understand what could possibly go wrong in a “worst-case scenario.”

What might happen if one of your employees is the victim of a phishing attack? How much damage could occur if a rogue actor accesses your internal network without your knowledge? Answering questions like these will help you understand what you need to defend against. It will also paint a clear picture of what the stakes are should something go wrong.

RELATED: Cybersecurity Checklist: How to Keep Your Company Safer in 2024 ⇐

4 Tips for Building a Foundation for a Healthy Security Culture

One essential step towards building a foundation for a healthy security culture in your organization involves developing clear policies and procedures that are effectively communicated to employees.  This means outlining rules such as not using personal devices to access work data or not storing business information on personal cloud-based services.

Other ways to foster a thoughtful security culture include:

Communicating the Dangers of Poor Security Awareness

In addition to outlining the rules that employees must follow, you must also communicate the dangers of poor cybersecurity awareness. Ensure that employees understand the potential consequences of poor security practices for the organization, such as financial loss, legal liability, reputational damage, and even personal consequences, like identity theft.

Making Security Training Part of the Onboarding Process

Along the same lines, it’s also pivotal to provide cybersecurity training and education to all employees during the onboarding process. They need to know what a phishing email looks like, for example, and what to do if they suddenly receive one in their inbox.

According to one recent study, nearly 95% of all cybersecurity breaches in a business environment are caused by human error. Therefore, regular and thorough training will go a long way toward preventing successful attacks.

ALSO READ: Cybersecurity Training for Employees: Tips and Best Practices

Providing Regular Refresher Trainings

Participating in training and education should not be something that employees complete just once. It’s one thing to issue someone a cybersecurity manual or to make them attend a class about the latest cyber threats. It’s another thing entirely to make cybersecurity a part of their everyday routines.

Humanizing Security Concerns

When creating a strong security culture, many organizations find success with making the process as human-centric as possible. Don’t just force people to use new cybersecurity tools or go through processes that might frustrate them without explanation. If you don’t communicate why it’s essential to their role, people won’t be motivated to maintain secure habits. Listen to their concerns, get feedback on them, and implement that feedback into the process.

A Healthy Security Culture is Key

Building a strong security culture for your organization is everyone’s responsibility. By involving your employees from day one, providing regular security trainings, and emphasizing the role they play in keeping your organization safe, you can build a culture where security is ingrained in every aspect of your business.

Encourage your employees to report any suspicious activity, establish clear policies and procedures related to security, and reward employees who demonstrate good security practices. The investment is worth it to protect your company and its assets.

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