As businesses transition to a larger remote workforce, the need for strict online security processes has become even greater. For business leaders, implementing strategic security protocols and developing a culture focused on online security is the key to protecting the business and empowering staff.
Cybersecurity operations to build a stronger online security culture have become a priority for many businesses in recent years.
Strong Online Security Culture
Here are a few suggestions of how leaders can build a more robust and more effective digital security culture within their employees.
Why is Strong Online Security Necessary?
The media is constantly highlighting stories of companies that have been the victims of cyberattacks and hacking, serving as targets due to their lack of security. More often than not, these attacks could have been avoided if only the employees had followed stricter protocols.
From losing company laptops or mobiles, which leaves organizations compromised, to responding to an email that was sent by an unauthorized sender or inserting a USB stick that downloads malicious files onto the system, there are various ways that businesses can suffer at the hands of hackers.
Businesses spend vast amounts of money on the latest hardware and software to streamline their processes and provide a better service to customers. Yet, they don’t think to invest in their security practices to protect the business as a whole. But by training your employees to identify threats or potential issues early on, they’ll be more aware and know what to look out for when they’re working.
Online Security Awareness
A company culture focused on online security ensures that these issues are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. However, security culture is about more than just being aware. It also focuses on users’ understanding of security procedures and how to act if a threat is identified. There are various ways leaders can implement this type of thinking.
Lead By Example
It’s OK to ask staff to follow specific actions, such as not clicking on suspicious-looking links and making sure that they use strong passwords, but if you, as a leader, are not following these actions yourself, it can weaken your standpoint.
Managers play a critical role in driving security culture forward, showing employees directly how to operate and work in a security-centric way. Leading by example is the best way to highlight processes and remind employees to do the same.
After all, if a manager copies sensitive business information onto a USB stick and then leaves the office with that information, what precedent does this set for other team members to follow suit?
Cybersecurity hygiene is something that everyone in the company is responsible for maintaining, including senior staff members. From making sure dual authentication is used to protect against malicious attacks to password-protecting online meetings and staying up to date with the latest threats, leaders need to model the best practices for everyone else in the team.
Leaders can’t expect to affect real and lasting change if they’re not prepared to implement those same procedures themselves, so this needs to be a priority in developing the all-importance security culture.
Focus On Vigilance
While cybersecurity strategies of the past focus on building a secure perimeter around the business’ assets to stop hackers from getting in, cybersecurity today is different. With the vast number of devices connected to each network, it’s almost impossible to protect data in this way now, particularly with people working remotely more and more.
To develop cyber-resilience, business leaders need to have detection processes to respond accordingly as early as possible. As cybersecurity firms highlight, being aware that there’s a threat in your business isn’t enough – you also need to be able to respond before it achieves its objective.
So, leaders must instill the importance of regular network updates, running data backups, and continual monitoring of activity to prevent attacks and adapt accordingly if anything occurs. Staff needs to be continually aware of the threats the business faces and be vigilant about avoiding them, and leaders have a responsibility to ensure this is maintained.
Support Digital Colleagues
Leaders need to meet with digital colleagues, such as tech and security teams, regularly to understand their roadblocks and challenges and listen to their immediate concerns to provide relevant support efficiently. These staff members are closer to these threats day today, so they should be the first port of call for protecting the business and understanding the difficulties that could come up.
For example, the need for additional defenses such as email filters might be identified. Leaders need to ensure that the technology and infrastructure in place correctly support the needs of the business, and this can only be achieved by speaking to tech leaders within the company.
Forming a cyber incident response team within the team can be beneficial since the initial hours after a cyberattack has been identified are the most critical. The business needs to mitigate losses as much as possible and ensure that the attack is limited not to impact the infrastructure, so leaders should select and train key team members to serve as an incident response team.
They can support this team with relevant training in cyber responses so that these employees are equipped to make decisions in the event of an attack, such as shutting the infrastructure down or informing customers about an incident. Role-playing potential incidents to keep the team’s memory sharp on how best to respond and keep everyone thinking about how to adapt can help.
Document Policies and Processes
Policies form the foundation of your security culture, as they guide staff behavior and keep everyone working to the same rules. So, if you’re trying to build a greater understanding of cybersecurity and the importance of staff following procedures, you need to be clear about what those processes are.
Security policies should be clearly documented and easily accessible to the staff so that everyone in the company understands what’s expected of them and which rules to follow. IT professionals and stakeholders should approve security policies.
HR should also create a document that outlines the business’ vision for security and the consequences of not following these regulations. When new staff members start with the company, these documents should form part of their onboarding process from day one.
Every member of the business, from senior members of the team through the interns, understands what needs to be done to protect the company’s company data and information.
Devote Time for Online Security Education
Cyber threats are evolving all the time, along with the technology we use, so it’s not enough to create a plan and stick with it. Preventative programs need to be updated regularly to stay ahead of attackers, and the best course of action for this is continuing education and learning.
Leaders can assist staff with this to devote time to education for staff, whether that’s through team workshops, courses, reading, or podcasts.
CEOs and managers can send out weekly reminders to the company sharing ideas or examples of best practices to keep processes at the forefront of everyone’s minds, such as not clicking on email links unless you’re sure of the sender.
Share Recent Hack Information
It can also be beneficial to share articles or new stories as and when they arise of recent hacks or new vulnerabilities to stay up to date with the latest in cybersecurity news. This can be something that both leaders and employees can get involved with to help develop ongoing learning and strengthen online security culture across the business.
Leaders should also monitor performance and employee behaviors after staff has had training, using metrics to see how effective the strategy you have in place is. This enables business leaders to make the necessary changes and evolve the strategy to maximize its efficiency.
Regular tests and assessments will show how effective the training has been while also providing evidence that staff has taken the information they’ve been given on board. Knowing that they’ll be tested on what they’ve learned afterward can motivate staff to do more than simply show up and do the minimum, and you can also provide incentives to those who score best within the team.
Hackers and cybercriminals know that when a business’ defenses are down, they can achieve greater success with their attacks. Hence, leaders need to constantly be on alert to the threats and risks associated with working online.
Taking a top-down approach and influencing employees through clear objective setting, training, and setting a good example can help.
The best way to achieve this is to develop a strong culture within the organization that centers around online security so that everyone working in the business, whether they’ve been there for years or they’re still on probation, understands best practices and how their commitment aids the company in staying secure.
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