Getting your employees actively participating and engaging in cybersecurity literacy programs is definitely a complex battle. Even though cybersecurity is one of the most crucial aspects of any business in today’s world, there are still people who think of it as a myth.
Nearly half of all cyber attacks target small businesses with less than 250 employees, says Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report.
Why is that?
Because criminals prefer the path of least resistance. Small businesses often overlook cybersecurity, and even when they don’t, there’s always that one employee who is lax about the dangers of the cyber world. After all, the weakest link is the most clueless employee. According to the ACC Foundation: State of Cybersecurity Report, most of the data breaches are the result of an employee’s mistake or an inside job.
The best way to keep your organization safe and secure in the digital world is to promote a culture of cybersecurity literacy.
Employers need to make sure that all employees, executives, and top-management are on the same page when it comes to online safety and cybersecurity. If you meet a bit of resistance from your employees when fostering a secure culture, then find ways to actively engage them in your cyber literacy program.
Here are 10 different ways you can get your employees to care about cybersecurity.
1. No more secrets
Cybersecurity is complex and the lack of understanding often leads to low or no interest from employees. You don’t have to keep the threats a secret anymore. For the purpose of building interest and understanding, try to shed some light on how hackers are constantly trying to attack and perpetrate hacks.
Once your employees have a basic level of understanding about cybersecurity and threats, only then will they start understanding why cybersecurity is so crucial.
2. Make it personal
Maybe employees don’t feel like they have a stake in the company’s data, but that’s not true. Attackers don’t only care about company data; employee data is also at risk.
Make sure that your employees know that their personal data is at stake, too. In order to protect themselves and their data, they must understand the basics of cybersecurity.
3. Security begins at the top
Employees are not the only ones vulnerable to cyber attacks. Owners and top-management can also be the cause of such downfall. Owners and executives don’t only need to fund the security literacy programs, but actively participate in them and promote the same message to their employees.
They need to communicate with middle management and all other employees to get them to incorporate cybersecurity practices in their professional and personal lives.
4. Try gamification
Gamification works for almost everything. Turn the cybersecurity literacy program into a game where all the employees can compete and set high scores.
For example, you can create a leaderboard where the employee with the strongest password, screen lock, and other security features will be shown at the top.
Each security measure and feature will grant the employees certain points, and the employee with the highest points gets to be at the top of the leaderboard. This will encourage employees to incorporate the highest security measures.
5. Standard security practices and acceptable behavior
Everyone in your organization including, but not limited to, management, owners, employees, interns, etc., should understand the acceptable behaviors and standard practices that are defined in the organization.
There should be no confusion regarding what practices are allowed and what is forbidden. For example, if each employee is supposed to change their passwords every 15 days, then it should be enforced.
6. Build the mindset of new hires
Right when a new employee comes through the door, start building their mindset. Tell them how your company always puts cybersecurity at the top.
Any new employee should be made familiar with the standard procedures and policies set by the organization. These policies should include well-defined cybersecurity standards that are to be followed by every employee of the organization.
7. Build ongoing literacy programs
Many organizations conduct a cybersecurity awareness program once a year and call it a day. However, that likely won’t yield any positive results. In order to get your employees to actually care about cybersecurity, develop ongoing cyber literacy programs that are fun and engaging. Deliver smaller lessons throughout the year and make them fun through gamification.
8. Cover the basics
Every stakeholder in the company, including employees, should be familiar with the basics of cybersecurity. This includes setting strong passwords, enabling authentication, screen locks, monitoring access, and downloading the latest security patches. These are the basics of cybersecurity that build the foundation for understanding digital security.
9. Rewards for employees
When an employee successfully thwarts a security attack or finds a completely new vulnerability in your system, reward them. Even sharing their success with the entire organization will often encourage everyone else to do the same.
Don’t be scared of employees finding a weakness in your cybersecurity program. Instead, encourage internal testing of your security measures. This practice will help you iron out any kinks in your security protocol.
10. “Live fire” training
Remember fire drills school? Well, a live fire practice in the cyber world is much easier to simulate since there’s no running and jumping involved.
Have your employees undergo a simulated attack related to their job and evaluate their performance. If someone performs perfectly, reward them while helping those who seem to lack awareness.
Changing the security culture of your organization takes time; you can’t change it overnight. Don’t expect your employees to become the mightiest of pen-testers overnight. However, with the right mindset and engaging activities, you will eventually get there!
Author Credits: Shaira Williams at Techiespad.