IT security and cybersecurity policies are all the rage these days, and rightfully so. However, an IT security policy alone does not guarantee effective security within an organization.
Responsible organizations understand that the onus is on them to communicate the elements of their security policies to their employees in an engaging manner. The traditional model of conducting an annual security training seminar or meeting, when used as the sole basis for training, is both unappealing and ineffective.
To successfully establish, communicate, and enforce your organization’s IT security, you need to focus on truly engaging your employees about your policy and how to comply with its standards.
Specifically, this charge breaks down into three approaches for your company to consider when creating IT services and security strategies:
- Introduce IT security policy and critical IT services as part of employee onboarding.
- Incentivize engagement with IT security policy through gamifying compliance and other creative methods.
- Update your policy and practice it consistently. IT security constantly evolves; thus your policy needs to as well. The best way to keep employees abreast of significant changes is to integrate routine security training and awareness exercises.
Instill Importance of IT Security Through Onboarding Programs
Onboarding is the time when new employees are introduced to the entirety of your company’s core functions and processes. Integrating IT security policy, awareness, and compliance into your employee onboarding programs establishes that IT and cybersecurity are of equal importance to other, basic business operations.
By design, extensive onboarding programs should detail the elements of your policy, such as personal device policy, software requirements, password standards, network usage, etc. Along with the scope of your policy, introduce the corresponding best practices that your employees need to follow in order to comply with it.
If you can instill the IT security best practices that are expected from your employees during their introduction to your company, they are more likely to comply with them over time.
Provide Incentive for Employees to Engage with Security Policy
Your employees should be expected to comply with IT security best practices as outlined by your organization’s policy. But good security awareness behavior shouldn’t go unrecognized.
With incentives, you can keep your employees’ attention and continue to boost their awareness and participation with required IT security policies. A recent trend in this vein is gamifying security training and compliance, a practice that entails adding competitive or benchmark-related features to security policy compliance.
For example, you could quiz your employees’ knowledge of your security policy, with incentives that correspond with their performance. The quiz might ask questions about what to do when they encounter a suspicious email or how to register a new device on your organization’s internal network. If your employee answers all of the questions correctly, he or she earns a gift card to a nearby restaurant and/or enters a raffle for a larger prize.
Gamification schemes are incredibly simple to design but can make a difference in promoting company-wide engagement with your IT security policy. The money you spend on incentives for an entire department pales in comparison to the cost of a data breach or IT services malfunction that results from an unforced employee error.
Keep Training Consistent
Consistent training and policy awareness exercises help employees stay refreshed on security best practices, which is crucial in a security landscape that tends to evolve rapidly.
Providing regular updates about topical security threats, how your organization’s policy changed to address those threats, and how employees can best comply with new policy helps to maintain an aware, knowledgeable, and compliant employee base.
Even better, if you can design your training efforts to reach your employees on a personal level, they are much more likely to embrace your policies. Security awareness, after all, doesn’t end when your employees clock out. By adopting a consistent, personal approach to training, you effectively create an open-minded culture of strong human firewalls
Be Willing to Invest in IT Security
Each of the approaches described above – security onboarding, incentivizing compliance, and regular updates and practice – are effective methods of strengthening your company’s IT security through your employees. But each approach requires that your company invests time and resources to engage your employees and ingrain in them the importance of security to the operation of your business.
That investment is well worth it. Aware, compliant, and well-trained employees can save your organization immense amounts of money by avoiding common employee security gaffes.
Editor’s Note: This blog article was written by an outside contributor – a guest blogger – for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. However, the opinions and recommendations expressed in this guest blog are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of The Security Awareness Company, LLC. If you are interested in writing something for us, please do not hesitate to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.