The nature of cybersecurity is technical, so many companies leave it to their IT departments. While it’s true that your IT staff plays a vital and invaluable role in ensuring your company follows cybersecurity best practices, that doesn’t mean they should shoulder it on their own. In fact, they can’t. Awareness of and participation in cybersecurity best practices needs to go beyond IT and become part of your company’s culture. Only then will you be fortified against cyberattacks and vulnerabilities, protecting your business against the untold impacts of cybersecurity incidents.
The fact is a cyber incident can be devastating to an organization. Here’s how to weather the storm.
Why Cybersecurity Awareness is Important
Cybersecurity at your organization is everyone’s business, from staff to board members. Cybersecurity risks come from every direction and into every entry point, seeking even the smallest opportunities to breach your systems. And one single cybersecurity breach can affect the entire organization. If you identify the many ways a breach could occur and how it would impact your business, it will be clear that raising cybersecurity awareness is fundamental to the success of your organization. Key concerns about cybersecurity include:
However, the risk is not limited to old technology. You could see equally serious impacts from an attack through a successful—and simple—phishing scam. Such unplanned downtime affects the entire company, and it costs you time and money.
A 2020 IBM report found that it took an average of 280 days to detect and identify a data breach. This gives hackers an uncomfortable amount of time to collect sensitive information that is key to your organization’s operations and success.
From these examples, it’s clear that cybersecurity risk is a business risk. And cybersecurity needs to be an organization-wide initiative with buy-in from all levels. Developing a risk-based approach and identifying the areas of most concern for your business will help your team understand that cybersecurity awareness isn’t just an IT problem; it’s everyone’s concern. It’s a shared responsibility, across all people, processes and technology controls, and everyone has a critical role to play, from the breakroom to the boardroom.
Creating a Culture of Cybersecurity at Work: Individual Roles
Once you’ve started creating a culture of cybersecurity awareness at work, the next step is understanding the specific roles each individual must play and how you can equip them for success.
Cybersecurity Awareness as Intention—Not Suggestion
As you implement these responsibilities, you may find it difficult to get past the complacency barrier. If this isn’t part of your team’s daily routine, it will take effort to make it stick. Even in organizations where cybersecurity awareness is frequently mentioned, it can be vague and easy to dismiss.
Being aware means being present and paying attention to what is going on around you. This sounds simple enough, but consider many individuals’ lack of physical awareness due to their use of cell phones or headphones. Awareness is a conscious effort. Encouraging individuals to be more aware at all levels is key and helps improve cybersecurity awareness. The goal isn’t to convince people to be negative or pessimistic, just slightly less trusting.
For example, if you received an email from a trusted executive to process a transaction, would you automatically do it? Would you hesitate if it was out of the ordinary, included misspellings or involved an account you didn’t recognize? Though it could be a valid request, it’s also a technique hackers use to get recipients to quickly transfer funds without questioning the request. Later, it’s discovered that the email didn’t originate from within the organization and the money is gone.
A scenario like this doesn’t involve IT and is not overly complicated. And yet, according to recent estimates, $2.3 billion has been lost over the last three years with this technique. A simple solution would be to request a two-step approval process, or confirmation from the actual executive, prior to sending. It may seem like common sense, but it does require all individuals to be aware. If it weren’t effective, the “bad guys” wouldn’t keep using the technique.
Thus, to truly implement a culture of cybersecurity awareness, you must make it a daily intention rather than a hopeful suggestion. It begins with education: sharing examples, educating employees, building awareness, and making the topic engaging and prominent.
How the Unknown Savings of Cybersecurity Awareness Add Up
It’s difficult to calculate the savings that result from cybersecurity awareness. If you have this company-wide awareness, you may never know how many attacks you’ve avoided, what types they would have been, and how much damage they would have done. The best way to measure how cybersecurity awareness could save your business is by looking at the statistics.
According to IBM:
As you can see, though it’s difficult to quantify how much you’ve saved through your cybersecurity measures, the actual costs of successful cyberattacks and data breaches offer insightful clues into the losses you’ve likely avoided.
Cybersecurity Best Practices: Next Steps
If you make sure that cybersecurity in the workplace is everyone’s business, develop preventative protocols and an incident response plan, provide training and education around the topic and remain vigilant, you can save your business from detrimental cybersecurity incidents that would otherwise cost your organization time, money and possibly your reputation.
On average, organizations lost $1.52 million in business costs due to a data breach. The truth is, not many organizations could survive that.
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