Every organization needs to ensure cybersecurity awareness among employees to help protect data and systems. It’s important that employees understand and are mindful of the day to day situations that could actually cause harm to the company if they are not careful. Risks in the cyber landscape include phishing, hacking, identity theft, ransomware, viruses and more. The threat landscape is always changing and becoming more sophisticated and sadly employees are often the weakest link when it comes to keeping data secure.
Business leaders need to be responsible to ensure that their employees understand risks and their own personal cybersecurity responsibilities and obligations. It goes well beyond sending a one-off cybersecurity awareness email to employees.
Creating and delivering a comprehensive cybersecurity awareness campaign can help to keep this issue front-of-mind for staff in your company.
Step-by-step guide to creating a cybersecurity awareness program Different organizations have different needs. There are different threats across industries, and the level of knowledge of cyber security among employees can also vary differently. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to delivering a cybersecurity awareness campaign, but the following steps will provide a solid foundation.
Set goals The first step is to determine what you want to achieve and define your cyber security campaign’s scope based on the specific needs of your organization. This should be set out in a plan that you can take action and measure.
Ensure you have buy-in from management It’s critical to have agreement about the importance of cybersecurity from the top down to every level of management within the organization so that you can influence attitudes and behaviors appropriately.
Clearly outline your policies and procedures It is important to have clear and easy to understand policies and procedures in place around cyber security that set out expectations for employees and their obligations to use computer systems appropriately to keep data safe. Having employees acknowledge this helps to keep them accountable.
Deliver cyber security awareness and education Understanding your goals and specific needs, you can then tailor your security awareness campaign to suit your objectives: what are the risks you need to communicate and educate about? Providing the right information to your employees about the common risks and steps that they can take to detect and mitigate risk will help to protect your business.
Choose different cyber security awareness topics Having an ongoing cybersecurity awareness campaign means that you can continuously deliver information to employees about different cybersecurity issues. For example one month you may do a topic on password protocols, the next it may be about phishing.
Test your employees’ knowledge Regularly testing employees’ knowledge about cyber security can help you to determine if there are any weaknesses or gaps in their knowledge that need to be addressed through the development of any additional educational materials.
Best practice in internal communications includes using different delivery channels to communicate the same message. This is based on research that shows that you often need to deliver the same information several times before it resonates and sticks with employees. It also reflects that different people have different preferences and styles when it comes to receiving information.
Include cyber security in employee onboarding Cyber security awareness needs to begin from the very first day an employee begins with your organization. By including it in your employee onboarding process you can ensure that all new staff have a consistent level of education and awareness, and you can also bring your brand new employees up to speed with the rest of the employee cohort.
Keep on top of emerging trends Cyber security is a fast-moving landscape and cyber criminals are always becoming more and more sophisticated in their methods. It’s crucial to stay up-to-date with emerging threats and introduce them to your employees where appropriate so that you can be on the front-foot and not taken by surprise.
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