Few things are more critical to modern business owners than fostering a responsible security culture at work. Just about everyone now knows how to use a computer…but how many people know how to use one responsibly?
Modern businesses increasingly rely on technology for day-to-day operations and this provides many benefits. It also represents a huge risk.
Internal networks, instant messaging, apps, and other software allow employees to work faster and communicate better. On the other hand, an increasing reliance on technology makes just about every business vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Don’t wait for disaster to strike. Your company should create a strong security culture using cybersecurity best practices that include a business password manager. Listed below are six key steps to help foster a security culture all employees can accept and business owners can embrace.
1. Make it clear that cybersecurity concerns everyone.
It used to be that taking care of network security was “something for the IT guys to worry about.” Everybody else was happy to pound away on their computers without giving online security a second thought. Should any network-related problem crop up, it was the IT department’s problem. Employees would pick up the phone, call IT, and let them deal with it.
This sort of attitude needs to change if you want to create a proper security culture in your company. Simply telling your employees they need to be mindful of security protocols is not enough. They need to understand that cybersecurity is their responsibility as well. Business owners and managers can achieve at least some level of clarity with clear directives and signed agreements tucked into employee HR files. Cybersecurity incidents need to become part of every employee evaluation process.
2. Provide cybersecurity training.
The key to keeping company data safe from cyberattacks is to effectively train your employees. Any employee handling customer or business data needs to understand and respect the significance of data privacy. Have someone from IT and/or the security department develop comprehensive, easy-to-understand training programs.
Keep in mind that many IT experts “speak a different language” than your regular employees. Training programs should use simple terms and walk the average employee through the basics of cybersecurity. You don’t have to certify all of your employees as security experts, but you do want them to understand — and counter — common threats.
If possible, cybersecurity training programs should be engaging and fun. You don’t want your employees dozing off during an overly long and boring PowerPoint sermon. Security training programs should incorporate interesting videos and interactive games.
3. Focus on basic problems.
Regular employees don’t need lectures. Tell them what they can do to protect the company’s network from cyber threats.
Installing state-of-the-art antivirus programs is an IT job. Employees only need to know why these programs are essential and how they should use them. They also need to understand why they shouldn’t mess with any such programs.
You’ll need to reinforce with employees that it’s not OK to circumvent security protocols for whatever reason. Many are tempted to do that just so they can install their favorite apps on their work computers. More than one data breach can be traced back to an unauthorized software installation.
4. Explain why secure passwords are essential to cybersecurity.
The importance of everyone using unique, secure passwords cannot be overstated.
People generally don’t want to be bothered with remembering passwords, let alone using truly secure ones. They want passwords that are easy to remember. According to one study, almost half of all employees only use 2 or 3 passwords for all their online accounts. This includes both personal and business accounts.
As you may imagine, this creates a major vulnerability for your company’s security. Even worse, 22% write their passwords down and keep them on their desks. This is a recipe for disaster. To prevent a major data breach, you should instead teach your employees to use a business password manager.
A business password manager offers high-encryption and multi-factor authentication. No matter how good such a program is, the IT team needs to retain admin control. This is crucial to make sure the employees use the password manager properly.
5. Lead by example.
Most people don’t like to be told what to do. They may balk at the idea of having to observe enhanced cybersecurity protocols. This is why any security culture needs to start from the top management level filtering down to every department. If employees see their direct manager following strict security protocols, they are more likely to follow suit.
That street runs both ways. If a department manager tries to bypass cybersecurity protocols or use old passwords, their employees will feel entitled to do the same.
6. Use the carrot-and-stick approach.
Any modern company needs a cybersecurity policy that clearly outlines protocols for accessing data and the internal network. Company policies should be required reading for all new employees. Employees who do well and apply the company’s security policy deserve recognition and perhaps some kind of reward. Everyone should also be encouraged to spot and report potential security risks.
It stands to reason that those who flaunt security rules should be aware of the consequences. Make it clear that ignorance is no excuse. If you put the whole company at risk, it’s only reasonable that you might pay for your mistake. Sometimes that cost needs to include termination.