Cybercrime has become more organised and sophisticated than ever before, making it critical for every organisation to communicate risks like phishing effectively across the business.
According to a recent study, the total annual cost of cybercrime for a company has jumped from $11.7 million in 2017 to a record high of $13 million.
It has also been well documented that employee negligence has been responsible for some of the worst cyber breaches in history. In fact, it has been reported that 90% of all cyber attacks are caused by human error. Such statistics highlight the prevalence of security threats that organisations face and the need to ensure cyber security awareness at all levels.
By taking the correct steps to improve employees’ cyber security awareness, organisations can help to educate, and empower employees to change their behaviours and protect the company from potential risk.
Here are ten best practical tips to help you create the most effective cyber security awareness campaign for your organisation.
Start with CEO Leadership
Cyber security is finally getting the attention it deserves in the boardroom. As the number of high-profile data breaches continues to rise, there’s been a greater emphasis on managing cyber risk to reduce the chance of an attack.
Cyber security is everyone’s responsibility, but resilient organisations require strong CEO leadership. If the CEO is taking cyber security seriously, this will permeate throughout the organisation and help create a culture of enhanced cyber security awareness.
Know Your Organisational Tolerances
In creating an effective security awareness program, your organisation needs to evaluate the threat landscape and identify your top risks. Doing so gives you a better understanding of the real world threats that could compromise your organisation’s security.
Your risk tolerance needs to be defined at the outset, so you can implement the correct security measures based on the actual threats faced. This avoids resources being directed at threats unlikely to occur or that will have little or no impact on your business.
Taking time to properly identify the risks can help shape the messaging, delivery, and effective targeting of your cyber security awareness program.
Defend Your Information Assets
To develop a comprehensive cyber security strategy and effectively identify risks, you need to complete a thorough audit of your organisation’s information assets.
An information asset is a piece of information that is valuable to your organisation. This can include Personally Identifiable Information (PII), financial information, intellectual property, or any other information that is significant to your company.
You need to determine what the most valuable information assets are, where they’re located, and who has access to them. Every asset should be classified (for example, public, private or confidential) and protected based on its value. Doing so is crucial when identifying risks and prioritising the areas that need to be defended.
After you identify these areas, you can focus on how each information asset could potentially be compromised. Whether it’s a system breach, malware or even an insider threat, you can take informed steps to improve these processes and reduce the chance of a cybercriminal gaining access to critical systems.
Focus on High-Risk Groups
The key to an effective security awareness program is ensuring the right training is targeted at the right people. All users are susceptible to cyber threats; however, certain employees have a higher threat profile than others. For example, your HR and Finance departments will be frequently targeted because of their privileged access to sensitive data.
Your CEO, CFO and senior executives are also popular targets due to their high-level access to valuable corporate information. If a senior executive were to fall for the scam, the results could be devastating, undermining the entire security of your organisation.
Make It Engaging with Effective Storytelling
Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into your cyber security awareness campaign. Face it, cyber security can be a dry topic, but it’s vital you find ways to engage your staff if you want to positively impact behaviour within your organisation. The message is just too important to get lost in formal, corporate communications.
Stories are fundamental to the way people learn; they help create an emotional response that makes it easier to remember what’s being taught. By making the story relevant to the end-user, you greatly increase the chance of that person retaining the information, therefore improving the overall security posture of your organisation.
Get Your Policy Management Up To Date
Policies are crucial in establishing boundaries of behaviour for individuals, processes, relationships, and transactions within your organisation. They provide a framework of governance, identify risk and help define compliance, which is important in today’s increasingly complex regulatory landscape.
An effective policy management system is one that has a consistent method of creating policies, adds structure to company procedures and makes it easier to track attestation and staff responses. As a result, this system can help you streamline internal processes, demonstrate compliance with legislative requirements, and effectively target the areas that present the highest risk to data security.
Start Preparing for a Data Breach Now
If you haven’t started preparing for a data breach, now’s the time to start. Billions of confidential records have been exposed and, according to IBM, the global average cost of a data breach has risen to a staggering $3.92 million.
It’s no longer a matter of ‘if’ your organisation is going to be attacked, but ‘when’. You need to start preparing for the inevitable and put a plan in place that ensures appropriate action when security is breached.
Establishing an effective response plan helps educate and inform staff, improve organisational structures, enhance customer and stakeholder confidence, and reduce any potential financial or reputational damage following a breach.
You need to regularly test your data breach response plan to identify any areas of weakness and to ensure that everyone on your team understands their responsibilities, both in preparing for and responding to a breach.
Enlist Cyber Security Champions
Cyber security is not just about technology. Your people play a key role in defending your organisation and identifying threats that could pose a threat to your security.
Appointing cyber security champions is a great way to empower staff and equip them with the skills needed to prevent a cyber attack.
Cyber security champions don’t need to be technical experts; tapping into them is about adding the human touch to your security strategy and enlisting the help of staff who are committed to raising awareness and implementing good cyber security practices.
Consider Your Supply Chain
For many organisations, the weakest link in their cyber security defences is their supply chain. Rather than targeting a company directly, cybercriminals will attempt to compromise an organisation’s critical networks and systems by exploiting gaps in its supply chain processes and systems.
Supply chains are a vital part of business operations, but often these networks are large and diverse and span a range of different countries. These suppliers typically don’t have the same robust cyber security defences in place, which means they have lots of weak points for cybercriminals to exploit.
Every supplier that connects to your business is a potential risk, so it’s vital you carry out detailed third-party risk assessments to address any issues that could pose a threat to your security. Doing so can help determine what security measures need put in place to keep your data secure.
Implement Proper Oversight and Regular Reviews
The threat landscape is continually evolving so your cyber security awareness program needs to evolve with it. It’s important to conduct regular reviews of staff readiness to identify areas of weakness and establish whether current policies and training need updating.
To support compliance with regulators, it is best practice to document the results of all reviews and make sure to act upon any recommendations for risk remediation. Without these regular audits, your cyber security awareness program might not reflect the threat landscape and could leave your organisation vulnerable to attack.
Further Reading: Why Cyber Security Awareness is More Important Than Ever
Automate Your Cyber Security Awareness Program
MetaCompliance has over 12 years’ experience helping our clients develop and implement staff cyber security awareness programs that work. In that time, we have developed a world leading SaaS solution that contains all the necessary functionality to engage users, provide defense against cyber threats and deliver regulator reporting.
The MyCompliance suite automates the lifecycle of annual cyber security awareness campaigns within your organisation, helping to save time and provide increased protection.