Cybersecurity is one of the most pressing topics for our businesses and organizations. This is underlined by the fact that the Biden-Harris administration has announced a National Cybersecurity Strategy. The concept is to protect the nation’s IT systems while helping businesses to enjoy the benefits of an active online presence. Companies can help protect themselves from threats by developing a cybersecurity culture framework.
It is easy to see why the president has chosen to take action. The FBI received more than 800,000 cybercrime-related complaints in 2022, with losses totaling over $10 billion. With costs piling up for downtime, restorative measures, and regulatory fines, businesses need to look internally for ways to strengthen their resolve against cyber criminals. This article explains how you can motivate your workforce to prevent cyberattacks.
Understanding the need for a cybersecurity culture
The World Economic Forum reported that 95% of cybersecurity issues in companies could be traced to human error. Employee activities such as downloading infected software, giving out personal credentials to a phishing scam, using weak passwords, failing to keep software updated, and installing apps and programs that don’t meet the company’s IT security protocols can all lead to attacks on the corporate network.
And often, this is due to the employee simply being unaware of the dangers or not even thinking about the repercussions of their actions. This is why a cybersecurity culture is a necessity.
When the culture of the organization is focused on maintaining cybersecurity, it encourages employees to run all of their actions through that prism. A robust cybersecurity culture means that all stakeholders are aware of the requirements and responsibilities upon them, as well as the consequences of not maintaining the expected standards.
What is a cybersecurity culture framework?
A cybersecurity culture framework is a set process that gives your efforts to introduce the culture direction, focus, and a standardized approach. Using your framework, you build in your employees a greater understanding of the cybercrime landscape and the potential pitfalls, as well as arming them with the tools they need to spot and avoid threats.
The framework needs to continuously develop in order to include details of new threats which emerge on a regular basis.
It should take into account the most pressing risks to your business and communicate the importance of maintaining vigilance when using the company’s network.
How to implement a cybersecurity culture framework
1. Assess your cybersecurity risks
Each company has its own unique set of risks that are most pertinent to it. For example, where an organization has a large number of remote workers, the most pressing risks might be employees using unsecured networks when working in public or downloading shadow IT to complete tasks when out of sight of the IT department.
Once you have identified the threats most pressing for your organization, you can formulate a framework for how to communicate the relevant information on how to identify and mitigate them.
2. Assess the current culture state
Once you understand the most important risks, you can analyze how the company currently deals with them. Gather employees and other stakeholders to talk about the risks, their perceptions of them, and how they monitor and avoid them in their daily work.
In addition, you can distribute surveys to assess knowledge and even run phishing tests to see how they react to situations that they might encounter in their working life. Check the current documentation, too, to see if it is sufficiently robust to be effective against current threats.
3. Make the strategic objectives clear
You should crystallize your security objectives into a vision statement that encapsulates why you are focusing on this area of the business and the benefits that it will bring to the organization.
By breaking the concept down into one or two sentences, you show your stakeholders why creating a cybersecurity culture is essential. Add to that specific goals for your cybersecurity efforts and you ensure that all employees understand the direction of travel for the business and their role within that.
4. Design a culture change strategy
You also need to lay out the steps that stakeholders must take to place themselves on the right track. It provides a roadmap of stages that the company must pass in order to reach the stated goal.
Set out which stakeholders you need to support and facilitate your strategy and who requires the guidance. Decide how you will deliver the learning that they need to undertake and what each different group of colleagues must learn in order to avoid the major threats in their area of the business.
5. Establish security procedures and protocols
With the culture in the process of changing, cybersecurity should be at the front of all stakeholders’ minds. Now is the time to reinforce existing security procedures and protocols as well as introducing those new measures that will help you to achieve your cybersecurity goals.
For example, if you haven’t had in place a work from home security policy, this is the time to implement one. Many companies were caught out when COVID-19 hit, and employees began working remotely without a specific set of security principles to guide them in this environment. The problem is it often entails different security risks than the office.
6. Develop an incident response plan
Although you want your incident response plan to prevent as many threats as possible, there could still be some attacks that make it through. In this case, a company with a strong cybersecurity culture will have a robust and easy-to-implement incident response plan.
Not only should you have a plan in place for how to deal with attacks, but you must test it to ensure it is ready to go and can limit any damage caused. A survey found that 47% of organizations had not tested how ready their response teams were. Only when an attack happened would they find out if their plan would work. For a successful culture, you need to be sure you are covered.
7. Review and improve the culture
Cybercriminals do not rest, so your compliance culture framework cannot stay still either. Make sure you survey your employees to find out about their experiences of working with the structure in place. You can also monitor cybersecurity KPIs to check that your program is moving in the right direction.
Listen to feedback and work out where your efforts are working and where they are not. This will help you identify the areas in which you need to improve. It could be the procedures; it might be the training or the communication of the culture. If there is something lacking, you need to finesse it and move forwards.
Example of a cybersecurity culture framework
This example cybersecurity culture framework shows the different areas in which you need to apply your strategic plan. It shows the areas of collective as well as personal responsibility, and the tasks within them that require oversight in a business with a strong compliance culture.
Challenges to developing a cybersecurity culture framework
|Lack of awareness||Employees may not fully understand the risks and consequences of cybersecurity breaches, making it difficult to engage them with cybersecurity initiatives. You have to show them the potentially detrimental effects of cybercrime.|
|Limited budget and resources||Cybersecurity initiatives can be expensive, and organizations may not have the budget or resources to implement all necessary security measures. Senior management may not see the value in the process.|
|Complexity of the IT environment||Many organizations have complex IT environments with multiple systems, devices, and applications. It can be challenging to ensure that all components are secure and properly configured. Monitoring all devices, especially those used remotely, can be a major task. Thankfully, Vaultry allows you to monitor all devices connected to your network to alert you to potentially dangerous programs.|
|Lack of skilled staff||The shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals makes it challenging for organizations to find and hire the expertise they need to establish and maintain a cybersecurity culture framework. This is why training in this area should form a key part of your cybersecurity culture.|
|Balancing security with productivity||Cybersecurity measures can sometimes be seen as an obstacle to productivity, making it challenging to find the right balance between security and productivity. Of course, a cyberattack that causes major damage and downtime could impact productivity to a greater degree.|
|Changing threat landscape||The threat landscape is constantly evolving, and organizations need to adapt their cybersecurity practices to stay ahead of new threats. This requires ongoing investment and vigilance.|
What are the organizational factors impacting cybersecurity culture?
The overall company culture can impede the growth of a cybersecurity culture. It might not be receptive to new ways of working, for example. However, a culture of continuous improvement would make it easier to accept the additional strategy. If a company uses a large number of contractors, this can make it more difficult to formulate a cohesive culture.
What are organizational levels of cybersecurity culture?
Leadership needs to drive the culture, as the highest level in the organization. Apart from this, there are group responsibilities for stakeholders to collaborate on, followed by the individual responsibilities that feed into the security of the organization.
How to better embed a cybersecurity culture within a growing organization?
Gaining leadership buy-in for the culture is essential, as leading by example is a quick way to demonstrate its importance to employees. Training for employees is another way to increase cybersecurity awareness, introduce knowledge of the risks, and recommend remedies relating to cybercrime.
How frequently should an organization’s cybersecurity culture/strategy/policy/training be updated?
The frequency of updating cybersecurity strategy and training is guided by the threat environment. You need to keep ahead of the latest threats, and that makes it an ever-evolving task.
Your cybersecurity culture framework will help you develop a focus for your workplace that leads everyone to put security at the forefront of everything they do. With so many threats around, employees must be continually vigilant for potential vulnerabilities. As part of this, you must be prepared for any eventuality and ready to contain and eradicate attacks.
Vaultry helps you to preempt attacks by monitoring devices on your network for programs and apps that could provide a gateway for a cybercriminal. It alerts you to their existence and allows you to remove them before they are exploited. Get started with Vaultry to protect your business today.