Did you know that almost all successful cyberattacks have been facilitated by human error? Notably, organizations have invested so much in improving their IT systems to secure their customers’ and business’ data. Thus, cyber-attackers have also changed their tactics accordingly and are now exploiting human error by targeting the staff.
Cyberthreats bear reputational, legal, and financial consequences. Note that up to 60% of businesses close down six months after a data breach incident. After a breach, customers would want to know what you were doing to protect their confidential information.
Cyber-aware employees and a culture of cybersecurity are critical in protecting an organization from the threat of a cyberattack. Notably, human beings don’t make decisions based on a set of written rules. Instead, they will make moves by following their gut feelings, and that’s where organizational culture comes in. Since a culture of cyber-awareness goes beyond finely written policies, it cannot be dictated but can be built and fostered in the hearts and minds of the staff.
Essential questions to ask to know if your organization is cyber aware:
- Does your staff know which data is confidential and how to treat it?
- Do they know what a secure password is and the importance of password hygiene?
- Do they all know the right actions to take if in case they are infected with malware?
- Can they identify a phishing attack?
Mistakes Employees Make If They Aren’t Cyber Aware
According to a 2018 report, 61% of cyberattacks successfully happened because employees unknowingly shared malicious emails through their work email. Here are some of thecostly mistakes that cyber awareness can help address:
- Opening emails from strangers
Most employees may think that there is possibly no harm in opening a random email. Well, opening the email is not a problem, but the temptations that come with opening a phishing email are immense. Notably, cyber-attackers are experts in human psychology and know just how to evoke your curiosity and exploit it to their advantage. So, it’s best to advise employees to ignore emails coming from unfamiliar addresses or ignore emails that have unfamiliar attachments, which brings us to the next one.
- Opening random attachments
Cyber-attackers like to disguise malware as attachments. For instance, they could send an attachment named “resume” to the HR, and if they open it, the company’s system could get infected with the malware. So, as harmless as an attachment may appear, employees should be trained to avoid opening them if the source is unknown.
- Clicking links without validating them
Before clicking on links, your staff should be aware of the need to validate the source first. Random links can contain malware that can wreak havoc on the person’s computer or infect the entire network. Remember, social engineers usually take time to study their victim, their relations, and the stores they visit. So, the link may look very familiar, but you got to first find out by calling or emailing the alleged sender through phone or their official websites.
- Using work devices for personal use
In a 2018 survey, in every six employees using work devices for personal use, about a quarter of them weren’t aware of the underlying threat of this behavior to the organization. If the staff is not aware of the risks, they are highly likely to keep engaging in activities that can bring your business down. But making them cyber-aware and making it a culture is critical in keeping your systems safe from ransomware and phishing.
How to Incorporate Cybercrime and Fraud Protection into the Company’s Culture
- Set the tone from the top
Setting the right tone right from the management will make everyone feel how vital cybersecurity is to the organization. For instance, if your staff sees you exhibiting healthy suspicion when something feels wrong, they will probably do the same in a similar situation. If you take risky short-cuts that can put the security of the business’ and customers’ data at risk, they will emulate it as well. Your actions are powerful enough to shift beliefs, attitudes, and, eventually, behaviors of those you lead.
- Enhance clarity
Clarity is critical in helping the staff prioritize tasks and focus on the most important things. Without clarity, the business will always be in a state of confusion, where you are always reactive instead of being proactive. This confusion can result in burnout because the employees will not be sure of what is expected of them. Therefore, make sure that you write down clear policies and support it with processes and procedures that demonstrate the importance of protecting the business.
- Be repetitive
Developing a culture of security awareness in the organization cannot be a one-off thing; it has to be a continuous process. Security processes must be repeated often and become a routine in the firmto instill it. Over time, these habits will come naturally to the employees, and human error will be reduced significantly.
- Conduct engaging training
Conducting security awareness training every month will not only build the security parameters, but it will also foster a cyber-resilient culture in your organization. Remember to make the sessions brief but engaging, with some learning quizzes. The point is to maintain high retention rates and make the training quick and productive and the training can be face-to-face or via email.
- Get the infrastructure right
It’s necessary to lay the IT groundwork before instilling security awareness into the culture of the organization. Notably, the goal should be to put technical controls, reduce risk exposure, and support employee efforts. Make sure that you match your IT infrastructure with potential obstacles, risks, and needs of the business. The efforts to create awareness in your staff will only succeed if the right security infrastructure is in place.
- Involve departmental leaders
When planning the security awareness program in your organization, don’t just involve the IT team. Instead, include all other leaders in the firm by helping them understand the importance of cybersecurity and ask for their input. That will ensure that you design an awareness program that works for everyone. Additionally, you might get ambassadors in the process and earn cross-departmental support.
- Personalize the learning path
Note that people have different learning starting points, different learning paces, and different learning methods. Therefore, it is crucial to personalize security awareness training to suit each employee’s role in the organization and their security aptitude. For instance, you can come up with a one-on-one campaign that could include individual assessments, phishing simulations, and awareness training. It will be easier to educate and train the staff accordingly after knowing the security aptitude and identified knowledge gaps in individual employees. Additionally, you can use this data to measure the effectiveness of your security-awareness-training program.
- Hack the staff before the hackers do
Knowing which members of the team are at risk of falling for a phishing attack is critical in taking the right measures to prevent it from actually happening. Regular phishing simulations are an excellent way of establishing the employees who are not adequately equipped to deal with phishing. Remember, anyone that falls victim during the phishing campaign might need a tailored awareness training.
- Empower mentors
Do you have staff members outside the IT department who are excited about security and have quickly adopted cybersecurity best practices? Consider recruiting and training these security champions, make them program ambassadors, and watch them influence the behavior of their peers. Furthermore, if you want to build an even stronger network of peer influencers, incentivizing the security champions training would be a good idea.
- Promote and measure
Engaging everyone in the security awareness campaign is critical to the success of the program. No one should be left out; from the CEO to the intern. You can hold contests to reward the most improved or the most engaged individuals in the organization, or display leaderboards to enhance friendly competition. Don’t forget to hang posters to promote security awareness.
- Password education
Hacking of weak or default passwords forms 81% of breaches, according to a 2017 report. Thus, it is important to educate every member of the staff on the risks associated with a weak password. Additionally, make complex password structure a requirement and discourage the use of default passwords after the first login.
Cybersecurity is a team effort that every member of the organization should partake of. Investing in a robust IT system is great, but human error can bring it all down. Cyber-attackers are aware of this fact and are continually finding more advanced ways of exploiting this avenue. Weak and default passwords, innocuous-looking attachments, and phishing emails are some of the channels used to launch cyberattacks.
Data breaches are costly with both legal and financial consequences, and most organizations don’t survive after a breach. Avoidable security mistakes can be prevented with regular, brief, and fun security training that tackle a variety of security issues. An organizational culture around cyber-awareness on the same can be built through security ambassadors from within the organization but beyond the IT department.