How to Implement a Cybersecurity-First Culture

A single security slip-up can damage not just an organization’s bottom line but its reputation with partners, customers and clients. Today’s businesses need to consider security from the ground up and incorporate it at every level of the organization. Troy Markowitz, co-founder and CRO, Drata, discusses steps to build a cybersecurity-first culture.

Organizations sometimes make the mistake of thinking that cybersecurity efforts boil down to basic steps like changing passwords and updating software. Unfortunately, there is a lot more to it than that. Security needs to be considered from the ground up to keep data safe, and leaders must identify ways to incorporate it at every level of the organization. This is easier said than done.

Data breaches in 2021 were up 68% compared to 2020, and weak passwords aren’t the only things leading to the increase. Malicious attackers find their way to sensitive or proprietary information using all kinds of methods. The threat landscape evolves every day, and the cost of each incident continues to rise. The global average cost of a data breach increased from $ 3.86 million to $ 4.24 million in 2021.

Add to this the challenge of a hybrid or remote environment, and the entire initiative becomes more complex. That added complexity makes it more challenging to implement effective cybersecurity solutions – but it also makes it more necessary. Today’s organizations need even greater visibility and insight into how employees leverage technology across locations – even within their own homes. Without it, they are exposing themselves to significant risk.

Where can organizations start? By making cybersecurity a central element of company culture.

See More: Why Should Developing Vendor Cybersecurity Be a Top Priority

3 Critical Steps to Implementing a Cybersecurity-first Culture

Thinking through a cybersecurity first strategy isn’t easy, but it is simple. Just follow this three-step process:

1. Implement security awareness training

Basic training is a crucial element of adopting a cybersecurity-first mindset — it is essential to focus on breaking down threats and ensuring the security team knows what to look out for. To ensure they retain the information, it is critical to educate the team in a way they can connect. This could be an opportunity to invest in resources that make security training more fun and engaging.

From a leadership perspective, organizations must emphasize recurring training and updating the training as security threats evolve. It may be a good idea to integrate it with the onboarding process to ensure every employee gets security training before they ever begin work.

Good examples of security awareness training include:

  • Phishing tests
  • Interactive experiences and simulations
  • Engaging video content

Organizations can also pursue compliance certifications or attestations, such as SOC 2 (which is becoming increasingly necessary to operate a modern company in the cloud). If so, they will need to show proof that employees are completing security awareness training. There is no universal approach to security, and organizations should try different methods to see which ones work best with their employees. Regular check-ins to ask for feedback on what’s working and what isn’t can help continuously improve the program.

2. Establish accountability

Everyone is responsible for keeping the company safe – but, by the same token, every human being and interaction presents a potential risk. As organizations scale, those risks scale as well. It is essential to ensure employees understand that cybersecurity is not just the IT team’s problem – it is a responsibility that everyone at all levels of the organization shares.

54% of successful phishing attacks included breach of customer or client data. One person’s mistake is a risk. However, if employees know what to look for and how to evaluate and identify the business risk, they can stop these attacks in their tracks. Encourage real-time information sharing through communication platforms like Slack when receiving suspicious emails. Also, ensure everyone reads and fully understands company security policies.

The most important thing here is to think fast and move slowly. While early-stage companies are inherently going to move fast, security sometimes means pausing for a beat and thinking. While it may seem counterintuitive, promoting this approach will pay off in the long run.

3. Embed It into the organization’s core values

Cybersecurity should be embedded in the organization’s values ​​for any company responsible for managing confidential data. It’s great to have values ​​like integrity and fortitude, but those things should also apply to how the company manages data and cybersecurity approaches.

This is especially true for cloud-based companies, which face new and evolving daily threats. Today’s companies work quickly, You may be working fast, but security threats are evolving just as fast. Data is one of the most important assets our businesses have, which means keeping it safe must be a foundational element of its operations.

See More: How Companies Can Move from Cybersecurity Training to Learning

The Cybersecurity Opportunity for Organizations

While developing a cybersecurity-first culture may seem overwhelming, this approach presents a massive opportunity for companies just starting. By establishing cybersecurity standards early and baking security awareness into their culture, organizations can set themselves up for future success.

Whether a company has two employees or more than 1,000, security must be an integral and active part of its culture. Establishing and upholding a strong security posture requires continuous education and buy-in. Organizations can only achieve that by shining a spotlight on its importance and giving people the resources they need to educate themselves.

Remember: Any single slip-up can cause significant damage – and not just to an organization’s bottom line, but to its reputation and the trust it has built with partners, customers, and clients. That’s why it’s important to arm every employee with every method of defense against today’s attacks. Cybersecurity practices are an important piece of any compliance program, serving as a critical proof layer and helping keep valuable data out of the hands of attackers.

How are you building a culture at work that is cybersecurity-forward? Share with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. We’d love to know!

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