How to Create a Cybersecurity Culture in 5 Steps

Publication date: Jun 11, 2021

Last Published: Mar 22, 2023

Table of Contents
Read Time : 6 minutes

All organizations today need a strong cybersecurity strategy to keep dangerous threats at bay.

Aware of what’s at stake, most decision-makers don’t hesitate to increase their cybersecurity spending if they believe that’s the right thing to do, which is why spending on cybersecurity is set to exceed $200 billion a year by 2024, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence (BI) report.

But simply throwing money at cybersecurity won’t automatically make your organization safer. For that to happen, policies must actually be followed, cybersecurity tools used to their full potential, and threats proactively avoided. That’s where cybersecurity culture comes in, and creating it isn’t nearly as difficult as you may think.

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Why Is Cybersecurity Culture So Important?

The term “cybersecurity culture” is commonly defined as the knowledge, beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, assumptions, norms, and values of people regarding cybersecurity and how they manifest in their day-to-day behavior.

Organizations with a strong cybersecurity culture share several common characteristics:

  • Cybersecurity is one of their priorities.
  • New cybersecurity tools are utilized to their full potential.
  • Employees of all levels are familiar with the threats they face.
  • Cybersecurity policies are adopted without any resistance.
  • Recovery from cybersecurity incidents doesn’t take much time.

As you can see, having a strong cybersecurity culture makes it far easier to create a strong line of defense against cyber attacks by making everyone work toward the same shared goal.

In financial terms, a healthy cybersecurity culture can be the difference between success and bankruptcy because a single data breach costs on average around $200,000 due to the associated direct, indirect, and lost opportunity costs.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)in the past could, at least to some extent, afford to neglect their cybersecurity culture because cybercriminals focused mainly on enterprises, but that’s no longer the case today. Read on for 5 steps to create a better culture around cybersecurity in your business.

Sixty-seven percent of small businesses experienced a cyber attack in 2018, and the number is expected to be even higher this year due to the proliferation of remote work arrangements and the resulting focus on digitalization.

Creating a Cybersecurity Culture in 5 Steps

While creating a thriving culture of cybersecurity at work is a long-term endeavor guaranteed to involve many difficult challenges, getting started is surprisingly easy, and you should be able to lay down a solid foundation in just five steps.

1. Rally Everyone Around a Shared Vision

There’s a popular saying in the cybersecurity industry: your security is only as strong as its weakest link. Because a costly data breach can just as easily originate from a phishing message sent to an executive as it can from malware downloaded by a front-line worker, you must ensure that your cybersecurity culture encompasses everyone from the top down to the bottom.

To achieve this goal, it’s helpful to take a few steps back and define the bigger picture of your cybersecurity objectives and how a culture of cybersecurity makes it possible to accomplish them. Since forcing a cultural change with words alone rarely ever yields the desired results, all C-level members should lead the way by demonstrating how to turn the organization’s vision into action.

2. Invest in Cybersecurity Awareness Training

The current cybersecurity landscape is anything but easy to navigate. Even tech-savvy employees who can effortlessly troubleshoot day-to-day hardware and software issues typically have only a surface-level understanding of the threats they face on a daily basis.

The lack of cybersecurity awareness explains why approximately 88 percent of all data breaches are caused by an employee mistake, according to researchers from Stanford University. The good news is that user awareness training can effectively prevent employees from being the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain.

To be as effective as possible, cybersecurity awareness training should be performed regularly and include more than just dry PowerPoint presentations, such as audience participation and mock phishing exercises.

3. Equip Yourself with Effective Security Tools

Being aware of cybersecurity threats is one thing, but the end goal should be to have the ability to actually do something about them, which is where security tools come in.

From firewalls that filter incoming and outgoing traffic in real-time to security information and event management (SIEM) tools that provide a holistic view of an organization’s information security, there are many ways to augment the human element to catch even the most sophisticated malware and cleverly disguised phishing attempts.

4. Implement Strong Cybersecurity Policies

Cybersecurity policies clearly outline what employees are expected to do (and avoid doing) in order to keep threats at bay. They help protect sensitive data, keep critical systems running, and ensure compliance with regulations like PCI DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR.

The most important cybersecurity policies all organizations should implement include:

  • Acceptable Use Policy: Describes what employees can and can’t do when using the organization’s IT equipment or accessing its network over the internet.
  • Security Awareness Training: Establishes the requirements for employees to complete security training programs.
  • Identity Management Policy: Grants the right users access to the right information and systems in the right context.
  • Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Policy: Prepares an organization for disruptive events and helps it resume operation.
  • Incident Response Policy: Describes the processes and procedures necessary to detect, respond to, and recover from cybersecurity incidents.
  • Patch & Maintenance Policy: Specifies who is responsible for the discovery, installation, and testing of software patches.

You can learn more about these cybersecurity policies in our eBook, where we explain in detail why they are so essential and provide practical advice on how to implement them.

5. Find a Reliable Managed IT Services Provider

Organizing cybersecurity training sessions for employees, deciding which tools are worth the investment, and implementing strong policies, among other activities, takes a lot of time and effort—something SMBs have in short supply.

Consequently, many attempts to create a strong cybersecurity culture fail because organizations stretch themselves too thin and lose focus of their original goals and intentions.

By finding and partnering with a reliable managed IT services provider, you can successfully overcome the many obstacles that you’ll unavoidably encounter as you work toward strengthening your cybersecurity culture.

Contact us to Create a Culture of Cybersecurity

OSIbeyond provides comprehensive managed IT services to organizations in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, and we would be thrilled to provide you expert guidance and effective tools.

Schedule a call with us to get started on your cybersecurity planning.

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