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Cybersecurity Meets Culture: Advice for Executives

Promoting a cybersecurity culture across your organization is simply good business sense. A solid one can make an organization resilient, in times of crisis and, yes, even data breaches.

When every employee knows how to respond to and report a cyber threat, your organization can withstand challenges that comes with doing business today.

What is company culture anyway? It starts from the top down and is fostered by the company’s core values, goals and mission statement. Strategy helps shape it.

Those in leadership roles reinforce company values, ideally, by leading by example. When executive management can effectively communicate and guide a group, they can help inspire the rest of the staff to follow suit. It's the magic that builds employee loyalty.  

Culture aside, nowadays, a cybersecurity mindset is increasingly integral for success. The path forward is incorporating it within an organization’s culture. 

But, how can executives inspire and manage a cybersecurity minded culture? Continue reading for our tips.

Cybersecurity and culture are not a party of one

Culture is a continuous group effort. So is cybersecurity hygiene.

When leaders are looking to change their company's culture, it is important they plan for it by including everyone who is employed at the company. After coming up with a plan that aligns with overarching goals, letting the staff know about the changes and asking for their feedback will help you move the cybersecurity culture conversation along.

First, as executive, begin with a cybersecurity strategy that meets your particular company's needs. If you already have one, update and enhance it. From there, you're ready for the next step.  

Empower through cybersecurity awareness training

For instance, 24By7Security boasts a learning culture. We are encouraged to partake in professional development courses, gain IT security certifications and take skills-based classes. Management allows us to explore ideas and grow as professionals.

Offering your staff a learning culture will help you to foster a cybersecurity culture. Through engaging and ongoing cybersecurity training programs, you will make it clear that understanding what's at stake is important for all involved. It's possible that some folks are unaware of the dangers of clicking on malicious links. We're sure that the thought of a data breach would disrupt your sleep, try to explain why.

Empower your staff by educating them through fun workshops on the ins and outs of cyber hygiene, cyber crime, and what happens when an attack occurs. As they say, knowledge is power. 

One of our senior IT analysts, Ben Stukes, has used some catchy phrases. To quote him directly, he has said, "When in doubt, check it out," and "Think, before you click." 

He's absolutely right. You can feature games and trivia as part of the training.  A recent trend is also to use virtual reality for cybersecurity training. 

Remember, cybersecurity is more than a complex password. It's evolved to keep up with sophisticated hackers, so it's powerful to have your employee training to be both relevant and appealing. The more amusing the training, the easier it will be for your staff to remember what they've learned. 

Express it clearly

Take the wise words from Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, who once famously said, “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Be sure to clearly express in a variety of ways -- email newsletters, intranet web pages, in-person meetings, signage -- that your company is serious about cybersecurity.

Also, one way to effectively get the point across for those involved with fiduciary budgets is to explain the costs of a cybersecurity breach, which you can further read about here.

After you've communicated it, continue to update your message throughout the year. This continuous effort will help reinforce the tactics and best practices, involving staying safe online.

Remember to offer ways for your staff to provide feedback in a safe and welcoming place. Perhaps, you'll learn a thing or two on how to shape your strategy.

Teach how to report threats, boost success 

Sometimes preventing a threat comes down to the reporting process. Does your organization have an easy way for folks to report a perceived threat? What about in the event that someone accidentally clicks on an infected link and realizes they've been hacked? 

Designate a person or process for reporting purposes. Allow employees to do so without feeling like their job is threatened. They are only trying to help.

By fostering an environment that allows your employees to feel as though they can report such activity, you'll be able to mitigate and prevent risks tenfold. When people know they can report to senior management about the cyber threats they've witnessed, then they most likely will oblige.  

Provide your employees a judgement-free workplace, and you'll see results. In a previous blog post, we covered how to make cybersecurity training for employees that stick.

When employees know how their part can help protect their organizations, they will want to become heroes and cyber champions. 

Practice, practice, practice for an incident

Not only is reporting security incidents a smart path forward, so is preparing for one. Employees at all levels can get involved. We've offered tips in a previous blog about preparing for an incident. You can read it by clicking here. 

Think of incident response like a team sport. You get better with practice.

Also, cybersecurity isn't only a professional challenge. It's personal. Remember to bring the concept home by letting everyone know how they can keep their homes safe and how to prepare for a security incident.

Let them know how to recover from a breach, both at home and at work. There are steps to take, which should be in your incident response plan. Share these steps in your cyber awareness training. 

Reward and promote results

Get creative. Reward the high performers who exhibit sound cyber hygiene through a special awards day or a nice shout-out in your company's newsletter. You may even ramp up friendly competition. 

Recognition builds culture and loyalty. When someone is rewarded for doing a fine job, they will appreciate management and the company even more so.

It takes a moment to congratulate someone, and it is those moments that will resonate for a long time.

A final word

24By7Security provides security risk assessment services that can help you assess where your IT vulnerabilities are. We can design cybersecurity training programs for you and your staff on best practices. Through education, clear messaging, providing a safe environment to report suspicious cyber activity, you'll be well on your way to creating a cybersecurity culture for success. 

Call us today for a consultation.

Andrea Richard
Andrea Richard

Andrea Richard's background is in journalism, public relations, content creation and events marketing. She has won awards for feature writing and investigative journalism and brings a unique perspective to her current role.

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