How Should Companies Build a Robust Cybersecurity Culture?by@rebecca-j
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How Should Companies Build a Robust Cybersecurity Culture?

by Rebecca JamesJanuary 27th, 2020
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A cybersecurity culture within an organization refers to the safe interaction of employees with the digital threats around them, along with the creation of an environment that promotes and propagates the principles of cybersecurity. Organizations can create a cybersecurity culture that is sustainable- that implies a lucrative culture that generates security over a long course of time. Building a robust cybersecurity culture requires a massive investment of time, from everyone in an organization. Organizations need to ask themselves before indulging in the challenges of creating a cybersecurity culture.
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In the modern age of information and technology, there’s not a single individual or organization that would object to the tightening of cybersecurity within an enterprise. 

The reason behind this is simple, organizations are growing increasingly aware of the nature of the ever-evolving nature of the threat landscape surrounding them, and partly because of the coverage that data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other digital crimes have been getting over the course of recent years. 

Although the implementation of a robust cybersecurity infrastructure is an extremely critical aspect of ensuring that an organization is protected from external and internal threats and vulnerabilities, it is equally important that enterprises shift their attention to the lesser thought-about players in the cybersecurity equation of an organization - employees. 

In spite of the various security shortcomings seen within an enterprise’s cybersecurity infrastructure - an organization’s security team usually realizes the importance and necessity of fostering cybersecurity in an age where digital threats are far more pressing than physical threats. The problem lies on the other side of the equation and the way that an individual employee (that isn’t a part of the organization’s IT department) interacts with security- which is where the need for a robust security culture becomes even more apparent. 

In simpler words, a cybersecurity culture within an organization refers to the safe

interaction of employees with the digital threats around them, along with the creation of an environment that promotes and propagates the principles of cybersecurity. 

To a more cynical practitioner of cybersecurity, the notion of a cybersecurity culture might seem too idealistic to be practical. Although that might seem true on paper, organizations can actually create a solid cybersecurity backbone within their organizations through a cybersecurity culture, by taking a couple of simple steps. In order to aid our readers in the creation of a healthy cybersecurity culture within their organizations, we’ve compiled an article that delves deep into a couple of ways in which they can form a cybersecurity culture. 

What Does The Term “Cybersecurity Culture” Imply? 

Before we can get into the actual steps that enterprises can take to lead to the formulation of a cybersecurity culture, we’d like to make one thing clear- building a robust cybersecurity culture requires time! 

Despite the fast-paced nature of the cybersecurity and threat landscape, companies need to acknowledge the fact that a sustainable and effective cybersecurity culture requires a massive investment of time, from everyone in an organization. Instead of treating the formulation of a cybersecurity culture as a trending ‘fad,’ enterprises and organizations need to shift their focus on creating a cybersecurity culture that is sustainable- that implies a lucrative culture that generates security over a long course of time. 

If we were to divide the concept of a ‘sustainable’ and robust cybersecurity culture into its main components, it would consist of the following characteristics:

Brings change through disruption: One of the most crucial aspects of changing the mindset that an organization’s employees have towards cybersecurity is to bring sudden and disruptive change in the handling of security matters. 

The security culture should seek out to change the way that employees approach security through a definitive set of actions that take deliberate steps that help better security.

It is engaging: In order for employees to remain invested in a concept as notoriously boring as cybersecurity- the security culture should be dynamic, engaging, and most importantly, fun. 

The heads responsible for formulating the details of the cybersecurity culture should ensure that they include practices that turn the security of an organization into an enjoyable experience, rather than an unpaid task that employees have to perform.

It treats cybersecurity as an investment:  As is dictated by the reason which encourages organizations to turn cybersecurity practices into something ‘fun,’ employees need to be assured of the fact that they’d get a return on the time, and effort that they’ve invested into their organization’s cybersecurity culture.  

A simple, yet highly effective way of assuring individuals that they’ll be receiving a return on their security investments is by rewarding employees with a certificate, or any token of gratitude that appreciates and highlights their security concerns. Additionally, it should also be mentioned that the primary driving force or goal behind the creation of a security culture is to reduce the number of vulnerabilities facing an organization, which is one of the biggest returns that an organization can expect from a healthy security culture. 

How Can Organizations Form And Implement A Robust  Cybersecurity Culture? 

Taking into account the fact that humans are always the weakest link when it comes to fighting cybercrime, organizations can adhere to the following steps, that help them create and foster new and existing cybersecurity cultures by taking the following steps: 

1. Set Clear Security Goals

Perhaps the greatest question that organizations need to ask themselves before indulging in the challenges of a cybersecurity culture, is what they hope for the culture to accomplish? If they’ve already got the fundamental base work for the security culture in place (which most organizations already have), organizations need to analyze the current culture and determine a clear-cut set of specific goals, within the context of the technology, and the security infrastructure available to the organization. 

In an attempt to set clear cybersecurity goals, companies can eliminate any unnecessary ambiguity by creating a detailed plan, that highlights and elaborates on the role of each employee, along with preparing the staff for the highly probable instance of a cyberattack. 

Additionally, a clear cut set of goals and employee responsibilities also enable organizations the chance to boost employee morale by giving confidence outside the IT security teams as well, since every individual plays a role in fostering the security culture of the organization. 

2. Invest In Employee Training

Another vital step that organizations can take, which almost always results in the strengthening of a security culture is investing in employee training. 

As we’ve already mentioned above, humans are the most easily exploitable link, that makes the process of breaching into an organization extremely easy for hackers, as made evident by the multiple types of cybercrimes that manipulate an individual’s tendency to click on a malicious link, the most notable examples being phishing and spear-phishing attacks. 

Taking the exploitation and vulnerabilities that employees are prone to into account, companies should dedicate a significant portion of their budget to train their employees on how to act in the face of a breach, or attack. 

Employees should either be trained by the internal IT team, or by a third-party if internal resources aren’t readily available. The employee training should focus on pressing cybersecurity issues such as password management, data storage, and restoration, along with authentication processes, etc. It should be mentioned, however, that training that employees undergo should mirror the specific needs of the organization, and hence vary from company to company. 

3. Include Everyone In the Challenge

Despite being an extremely tedious task to actually accomplish, organizations need to make the cybersecurity culture inclusive to everyone, instead of limiting it to the IT department. 

Although the challenge that the threat landscape presents today is momentous in size, creating an inclusive and welcoming security culture is a solid situation for the problems facing enterprises. 

A simple way of including people from all departments in on the challenge of combating cybersecurity threats is by incorporating the concept of security in the highest level employees, right down to the lower-level employees. 

Additionally, enterprises and organizations may also instill in their employees the notion that there are only “security people,” instead of marginalizing security problems to the IT department. 

4. Encourage and Promote Cybersecurity Conversations

Last but certainly not least, another highly significant step that enterprises can take to ensure the longevity of their cybersecurity culture is to, well, talk. 

And yes, we’re completely aware of how simplistic of a solution that seems compared to the dire nature of the threats facing organizations today- but you’ll be surprised to see how effective conversation is in propagating the notion of security. 

As is the case with any culture, open discussion can help bring forth to the table ideas that weren’t known before. Moreover, with organizations hosting forums that encourage conversations around cybersecurity, newer members of the staff are encouraged to partake in discussions and raise any questions that they might have about the current cybersecurity practices employed in their organization. 

Needless to say, talking about cybersecurity culture, and ensuring that each employee gets an equal say in the conversations revolving around security culture- organizations are taking a step in the right direction towards a strong, healthy and sustainable cybersecurity culture. 

To Conclude

At the end of the article, we can only hope that we’ve made the importance of a stringent cybersecurity culture clear to our readers. Having said that, it is equally important that organizations realize the gravity of the graveness revolving in the digital world, and use this robust security culture to bring about a change in the way that we think about cybersecurity in general.