How to Build a Healthy Cybersecurity Culture in Your Organization

Organizations may encounter culture-building problems differently due to factors such as location, sector, and size. All organizations, regardless of headcount, deal with employees as the weak link in their IT security systems. Technology and training alone are not enough to safeguard against increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity attacks.

This article delves into how to motivate behavioral change as a positive subconscious shift in culture. Executive support, empowerment of a cross-functional task force, and tailored employee education lend themselves to culture reform and behavior adjustment in a more impactful way than an unexplained policy change.

Foundations of a Cybersecurity Culture

Cybersecurity culture manifests in a workforce's attitudes, knowledge, and assumptions. The shaping of cyber hygiene values is shepherded by the leadership team, education, and organizational process reform.

Executive Support

A strong security posture requires a strong foundation. Leadership needs to practice and preach cybersecurity best practices for accessing, transmitting, and storing sensitive data—a siloed approach to cybersecurity results in inconsistent practices with more risk than enterprise-wide strategic approaches. A top-down culture supports the employees as end-users that are the first line of defense against intrusion, rather than mistrusted gatekeepers.

Cross-functional Taskforce

Organizing a cross-functional security team to combat data security issues is important. A team with insights from executives, leaders, and department heads outside of IT and SOC leads to a healthy organizational adoption of secure data practices.

The first step in a cybersecurity-first culture is to identify the appropriate players within the organization and assign responsibility (and recognition) for data security. Team members should frequently meet to take inventory of committed resources within the organization and ensure that all employees have the appropriate level of access to tools, training, and resources for cybersecurity.

Tailored Education for Security Awareness

Phishing schemes are a huge threat to organizations. Hackers target SMBs, professional firms, and associations with increasing frequency and clever psychological tactics. In this increasingly dangerous internet environment, education acts as the vanguard. Many organizations find platforms for security awareness training that incorporate simulated phishing attacks into the coursework helpful.

It is essential to recognize that 85% of all data breaches have a human aspect. A little prevention averts network or credential intrusions by equipping employees with the knowledge to detect and report bad actors.

Perception & Actions

Employees' beliefs, emotions, and often misconceptions about security protocols can impact the effectiveness of an entire security program. Avoid work cultures that silo cyber hygiene responsibility. It’s important to note the role of communication as a tool to bring a sense of inclusiveness to preventative digital health behavior.

Avoid placing IT and employees in opposing camps where blame can be shifted between parties. As organization-wide policy and behaviors are changed, the culture surrounding those routines, behaviors, and actions will adjust. This is where a clear roadmap, top-down support, a cross-functional task force, and education all play a role in shifting the status quo. Establishing a healthy cybersecurity culture in your organization requires a shift in attitude and perceptions.

Roadmap to a Healthy Cybersecurity Culture

  1. Define strategic objectives and assign clear, time-bound success metrics
  2. Assess current state behaviors, cybersecurity sentiment, and knowledge levels
  3. Design a strategy to improve the culture around cybersecurity
  4. Execute the strategy while monitoring KPIs and milestones
  5. Review progress and iterate