Building a Culture of Information Security in Your Business

Make Information Security Part of Your Company’s Values

Researchers from Stanford University and a top cybersecurity organization found that approximately 88 percent of all data breaches are caused by an employee mistake.

Panicked man sitting at computer.

In an era where digital threats and cyber-attacks have become increasingly sophisticated, fostering a culture of information security within your company is not just a good practice; it’s a business imperative. A robust information security culture goes beyond implementing the latest security technologies. It involves instilling a mindset of vigilance and responsibility among employees at all levels.

Creating a culture of security needs to be embedded in every part of the organization, rather than leaving it to the IT department or other risk or security specialists. It needs to encompass everything from leadership buy in to policies and training:

1. Demonstrate the Commitment of Leadership

The foundation of a strong information security culture starts at the top. Leadership must actively endorse and prioritize information security initiatives. This commitment should be evident in both words and actions, demonstrating to employees that protecting sensitive data is a fundamental aspect of the company’s values.

2. Develop Comprehensive Training Programs

Equip your employees with the knowledge and skills they need to recognize and respond to potential security threats. Develop comprehensive training programs that cover topics such as phishing awareness, secure password management, and data handling procedures. Regularly update these programs to address emerging threats and technologies.

Phishing simulation software can also be an effective way to test your training and awareness programs, helping evaluate how employees respond to attacks in their inboxes and providing insight into additional tools and resources they may need manage threats. 

3. Encourage Learning, Not Punishment

If employees fear retribution, they may be more inclined to hide cybersecurity incidents instead of reporting them. Create an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting security incidents without fear of reprisal. Establish clear communication channels for reporting potential threats, and ensure that incidents are promptly and thoroughly investigated. Encourage a sense of collective responsibility for the organization’s security.

4. Establish Formal Policies

Help your employees know exactly what they should and should not do with formal policies on a range of information security-related topics, including, but not limited to: 

  • An acceptable use policy
  • A human resources policy
  • A data classification policy
  • An asset management policy
  • An email policy
  • A password policy
  • An encryption policy
  • An incident response reporting policy

5. Conduct Regular Security Audits

Conduct regular security audits to identify vulnerabilities in your systems and processes. This proactive approach helps in addressing potential issues before they can be exploited by bad actors. Regular audits also demonstrate the organization’s commitment to maintaining a secure environment.

6. Recognize and Reward Security Efforts

Acknowledge and reward employees who actively contribute to maintaining a secure environment. This recognition reinforces the importance of information security and motivates others to actively participate in safeguarding the organization.