The digital landscape provides an exciting business environment for modern enterprises. Unfortunately, it also exposes organizations to serious threats. Today, cybercrimes such as data breaches, ransomware attacks, DDOS, and phishing are among the most disconcerting risks for most businesses worldwide.

According to the Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020, the average cost of a single successful data breach is about $3.86 million. Besides financial losses, cyberattacks can also ruin a company’s reputation and even attract various legal implications. There is no question as to how destructive and devastating cybercrimes can be. Therefore, it’s crucial that companies are aware of the risks they face when leveraging digital platforms. Company-wide cybersecurity awareness is the key to ensuring that the right safeguards are put in place to combat digital threats.

Here are 10 tips for implementing cybersecurity awareness in your organization.

1. Emphasize a top-down approach

A cybersecurity awareness campaign will not take hold without meaningful support from the top. Although cybersecurity planning and concerns have become big agendas in boardroom meetings, it might still take some persuading to bring the CFO, CIO, CEO, and other high-ranking stakeholders on board with spreading cybersecurity awareness.

Managing risks is a company-wide responsibility; everyone has to pitch in. A combination of strong leadership and commitment from the top ensures that the necessary resources and time go into mitigating cybersecurity risks. Moreover, employees are more likely to welcome and effect cultural change if their superiors lead by example.

2. Know your compliance mandates

Understand your legal responsibilities when it comes to data security and privacy. Legal and industrial digital security standards such as PIPEDA, HIPAA, and GDPR, among others, dictate strict security requirements for companies conducting business or handling personal data within certain regions. Each of these mandates has a unique set of requirements and non-compliance ramifications.

Find out the security control standards expected of your business, depending on its model and geographical scope. With that in mind, you can clearly analyze the threat landscape and enforce the most appropriate goal-oriented cybersecurity solutions.

3. Conduct engaging staff training exercises

Even with a robust cybersecurity framework, the employees will still be your company’s first line of defence against cyberattacks. Empower the staff through engaging and impactful cybersecurity awareness training. Educate them on the severity of digital threats and how to identify, evade, and report imminent cyberattacks.

Arrange for training sessions regularly or after changing digital workflows, for instance, when implementing remote working policies. Remember to device creative ways, such as interactive quizzes, role-playing, and case study reviews, to push the message home.

4. Incorporate cybersecurity awareness during onboarding

Make cybersecurity awareness training part of the orientation or onboarding process for new hires. It’s essential to get new employees up to speed on crucial cybersecurity responsibilities and best practices. This is particularly important if new employees get assigned digital privileges on day one.

5. Establish an effective communications system

Encourage employees to share information regarding cybersecurity through a dedicated channel. It could be an email address, a voice hotline, or a digital suggestion box. The important thing is to have a platform on which anyone can freely ask pressing questions, make inquiries, and offer suggestions on security-related matters. Such a platform could also serve as a rapid response centre where employees can report suspicious behaviour and activities.

6. Set up an early warning system

Take a proactive and dynamic approach toward mitigating cybersecurity risks. For example, establish a company-wide early warning procedure to alert everyone of an impending or progressing threat. Most cyberattacks take some time to cultivate. Early detection and alarm systems can stop cybercriminals in their tracks and raise the company guard against probable hacking and data theft schemes.

7. Appoint cybersecurity champions

HR is highly-susceptible to cyberattacks. On average, 44 percent of malicious data breaches are caused by staff members who knowingly or unintentionally expose exploitable loopholes to hackers. Extensive and regular cybersecurity training alone is not enough to eliminate HR-related security risks. To that end, appoint cybersecurity advocates in every department tasked with continuously reinforcing cybersecurity awareness and closely overseeing employees’ compliance with security practices.

A cybersecurity champion can simply be a peer co-worker with no particular rank acting as a liaison between the CISO or security team and the staff.

8. Make the fight personal

One way to make employees care deeply about cybersecurity is to make them aware of how it could affect their lives. Make them feel that they have a personal stake in learning and upholding cybersecurity best practices. Besides incentivizing cybersecurity awareness with a sense of accountability, make it clear to each employee that they could apply what they learn and take actions to protect their own personal data and families, especially when working from home.

9. Market the awareness effort

Create a human-centric strategy to spread cybersecurity awareness in your organization. Take some time and effort to effectively sell the program through a persuasive marketing campaign, complete with the appropriate branding and objective statements.

10. Start preparing for a data breach now

Cybercrimes are only growing more rampant, sophisticated, and devastating. According to Juniper Research, as many as 146 billion sensitive records will be stolen between 2018 and 2023, and the cost of data breaches is expected to keep rising. Unfortunately, no organization is immune to targeted cyberattacks, and there is no way of predicting or anticipating them. It’s no longer a matter of ‘if’ your organization will be attacked, but ‘when.’

The only effective defence mechanism involves analyzing the risks and preparing adequately for the inevitable. Model a proactive cybersecurity framework that mitigates theoretical risks instead of responding to attacks once the damage is already done. All that starts with equipping the company with the right knowledge, skills, and resources to seal off all potential vulnerabilities and take the appropriate response action when faced with imminent threats.

Let’s take action

Formulating an effective cybersecurity plan can be overwhelming, but it becomes a straightforward and achievable goal once everyone gets on board. Creating cybersecurity awareness within the organization among stakeholders, managers, employees, and customers is the first step toward cementing a robust cybersecurity framework and security-cautious organizational culture.

Many companies have had to rethink their threat preparedness and defences now that most employees work from home. Remote working introduces new security and compliance challenges for businesses. Reach out to Softlanding to start your security optimization journey and learn more about protecting your workspace.

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Softlanding is a long-established IT services provider of transformation, professional services and managed IT services that helps organizations boost innovation and drive business value. We are a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with 13 Gold Competencies and we use our experience and expertise to be a trusted advisor to our clients. Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, we have staff and offices in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary to serve clients across Canada.

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