How to Build a Cyber Security Culture Within Your Business

5 min
Cybernetic Search

By Cybernetic Search

Studies have revealed that 95% of cyber security threats occur through human error, meaning they were theoretically avoidable. Additionally, global cybercrime costs are predicted to exceed $10 trillion annually by 2025, a growth of 15% in costs year on year. With that said, to ensure your company steers clear of these preventable risks and the costs associated with them, it’s never been more vital to establish and build a cyber security culture within your business. 

Along with helping you understand what a cyber security culture is and its importance, we’ll outline the steps you can take to build a cyber security culture within this guide.

In this guide, we’ll explore the following:

  • What is cyber security culture?
  • What is the importance of cyber security culture?
  • Key steps to building your cyber security culture

What is cyber security culture?

A cyber security culture revolves around the mission, vision, and values regarding cyber security held by all employees within an organisation - from technical to non-technical roles. Strong cyber security cultures rely heavily on internal policies, procedures, and leadership to instil security-conscious behaviours throughout the company's entire workforce.

Fundamental to building a cyber security culture is acknowledging that people, not just technology, form the foundations of an organisation's security posture. With an increase in cyber security threats, employees stand as the most potent line of defence and the potential weak link in the cyber security chain. Therefore, fostering an environment where employees possess the necessary knowledge and instinct to identify and act on possible attacks is essential.

When establishing a cyber security culture, businesses should align each employee's ability to detect potential cyber security threats with technology and tools that prevent attacks. The relationship between tech and people is pivotal for strengthening a brand's position against possible attacks, emphasising the vital role of a carefully crafted human factor in maintaining a secure security posture.

What is the importance of cyber security culture?

Building a cyber security culture is a strategic solution for enhancing a company's stance against security threats, recognising the importance of employee input and how it can support the technology and processes to create a robust defence against cyber-attacks. This cultural focus encourages a workforce to perceive security as a collective and collaborative effort seamlessly integrated into their daily work. 

The importance of cyber security cultures can be outlined in the below points:

  • Fosters communication across the entire workforce

A solid cyber security culture encourages employees to identify and address potential issues, fostering greater organisational resilience. This proactive engagement can lead to a continuous cycle of improvement, where employees spot problems while communicating valuable suggestions to enhance your brand's stance against cyber security threats.

  • Reduces employee turnover 

A cyber security culture can bolster the retention of your workforce, whether they're based remotely or in the office. If your staff notice you're focused on enhancing your cyber security, they may feel safer working online and appreciate your efforts to ensure they can do their job securely with a reduced chance of being impacted by an attack.

  • Provides alternative perspectives 

You can gain perspectives of the wider business, be it from employees in technical or non-technical roles, that you would otherwise miss out on. This increased engagement can result in a more accurate assessment of the company's security posture from critical insights into potential workarounds or unofficial approaches to cyber security. It also allows employees to provide their input on refining policies and processes, making them feel more valued by their employer.

Developing and sustaining the right cyber security culture is an ongoing process that demands time, investment, and commitment from senior leadership. It is not a mere change but an outcome that evolves from encouraging behaviours aligned with your cyber security objectives. When employees understand the importance of cyber security and see how they can be part of the solution, they'll actively engage in helping your business achieve and maintain its cyber security goals.

Key steps to building your cyber security culture

Now you have an answer to the question, 'What is cyber security culture?' and know the importance of it, let's explore how you can apply this to prevent cyber attacks from impacting your business. From building your security culture from the top, ensuring you're up-to-date with the market, to making your cyber security training relatable and rewarding staff who engage with your culture, here are the steps you can take to build a cyber security culture within your business. 

Building a cyber security culture starts at the top

Establishing a cyber security culture should start at the top of your business, with the participation of your key leadership figures. The cultural initiative should begin with C-suite executives and senior cyber security professionals. This is because, ultimately, leadership sets the tone and acts as the guiding force for cultivating a cyber security culture that flows through every level of your organisation.

A deep understanding of the organisational value of your cyber security posture, coupled with the ability to communicate and instil a cyber security culture change among stakeholders, is paramount. While the responsibility for cyber security initiatives typically falls on specialists within the security space, non-technical executives should also actively engage with the security culture strategy. 

Protecting staff, clients, and business partners through cyber security measures should be deeply embedded as a core business value and part of the cyber security culture. Executives are crucial in leading by example and setting the tone for a genuine, company-wide commitment to cyber security strategies and policies.

Clear communication is paramount from the top of your business. Cyber security information must be delivered and translated in a way that is understood across the entire organisation. To foster change, leaders should communicate in terms that resonate with employees, ensuring objectives are clear and understandable.

In summary, your cyber security culture can trickle down your organisation in the following way:

  • From the top: Executives must prioritise and frequently discuss the topic of cyber security as part of the business's corporate values. 
  • Across the broader business: Cyber security discussions should become commonplace throughout the organisation, becoming the topic of conversation in company-wide meetings. 
  • For individual employees: At the personal employee level, your staff must develop a general awareness of potential cyber security threats and feel empowered to respond to suspicious activities. 

This collective effort can begin a resilient cyber security culture that spans the entire organisation, from the top down to every individual employee.

Ensure you’re up-to-date with the cyber security market

Keeping up-to-date with the latest cyber security trends and thoroughly assessing your company's current stance on cyber security are fundamental steps in creating a security culture. Here, your cyber security team should conduct an assessment to identify existing risks and gaps in your processes. 

Additionally, you should take measures to ensure your wider business has an understanding of your cyber security strategy and keeps up-to-date with key developments within this niche. Here, you could take the following steps: 

  • Identify your stakeholders: Determine the stakeholders who can contribute to your cyber security efforts, including those capable of supporting the wider business with cyber security training.
  • Establish your training objectives: Clearly outline your cyber security training objectives, ensuring they are tailored to each target group within the organisation, from staff in technical to non-technical jobs.
  • Selecting training delivery methods: Identify the most effective ways to deliver training to your employees. This training could be conducted through seminars, virtual sessions, or regular pen testing simulations. Outline a plan detailing who will lead the training, how it will be monitored, and the frequency of the cyber security training sessions.
  • Determine your KPIs: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess learning outcomes for your employees. Consider metrics such as engagement with learning materials, completion of training or exercises, and changes in attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours related to cyber security.

Being up-to-date with the market also involves continuous learning and adapting to emerging threats. Regularly review and update your stance on cyber security training to align with the latest industry trends, threat tactics, and technological advancements.

Make your cyber security training fun and relatable

When conducting cyber security training, taking a fun and relatable approach to engage your workforce is essential. Consider interactive and dynamic formats that capture attention and foster retention, making the learning experience enjoyable, memorable, and, most importantly, whereby your employees retain the knowledge with the confidence to put it into practice.

Incorporating gamification into your cyber security training is one effective approach. By transforming learning modules into games such as quizzes, you can test and reinforce knowledge in an entertaining and engaging way. Whether it's games related to phishing, passwords, cloud security, data classification, or even scenarios like Christmas scams or remote working, gamification can add an element of excitement to an otherwise serious subject.

Your cyber security training could take place once a week, month or quarter - the frequency is up to you. Of course, factor in your employees' schedules and how much time they can dedicate to internal training.

Real-life scenarios and relatable examples are also powerful tools for engaging employees in cyber security training. Demonstrating how their actions directly impact the organisation's security helps individuals understand the relevance of security measures in their daily activities.

Above all, you should recognise that people learn in different ways, so it's essential to diversify your training methods. Some employees may resonate with online training featuring quizzes, while others may prefer interactive team activities or webinars from industry experts. The key is identifying what resonates most with your employees and tailoring your approach accordingly. Getting the opinion of your employees is an excellent way of doing this. 

Reward employees who engage with your cyber security culture

One final step to building your cyber security culture is to reward those who engage with your training sessions and adapt to your established culture. Celebrating success reinforces positive behaviour and creates a sense of accomplishment and motivation throughout the organisation.

When employees successfully complete mandatory cyber security training, seize the opportunity to recognise their achievement. Whether it's a monetary reward, company away day or extra time off, this incentive also acts as an acknowledgement to reinforce the importance of your commitment to cyber security culture. 

While the idea of allocating rewards per employee may raise concerns, it's crucial to view it as an investment rather than an expense. The return on investment in preventing even a single data breach can outweigh the relatively modest cost of these incentives. Incentivising your employees to focus their efforts on cyber security enhances awareness and cultivates a culture where individuals actively engage with your training schemes.

Another way of rewarding engagement is to provide opportunities for advancement within the organisation. Encourage your staff to explore cyber security jobs and make it a viable career choice. Investing in the growth potential of your employees who are passionate about cyber security can also boost your talent attraction and retention strategies. Also, consider offering opportunities for your staff to pursue advanced cyber security courses to expand their knowledge. 

Ultimately, positive reinforcement acknowledges your employee's efforts and incentivises others to follow suit. Recognising and celebrating employees who actively contribute to your security posture contributes significantly to the overall success of building a resilient cyber security culture.

The final word on building your cyber security culture

Overall, building a cyber security culture should be approached with a collective mindset involving every employee, from leadership to frontline staff, actively participating in the mission to strengthen your company's security posture. 

The significance of such a culture lies in its ability to foster communication, reduce turnover, provide alternative perspectives, and ultimately create a resilient defence against cyber attacks.

In summary, building and sustaining this culture involves the below key steps:

  • Starting at the top with committed leadership
  • Staying ahead of the market
  • Making training enjoyable and relatable
  • Rewarding employees who actively engage in security initiatives

By aligning your organisational values with cyber security objectives and empowering employees with the necessary knowledge and incentives, you can forge a robust cyber security culture that thrives in the face of ever-changing threats. See your cyber security culture as an ongoing commitment that requires continuous effort, investment, and a shared understanding that security is everyone's responsibility.

If you enjoyed this guide, check out our piece on What is Threat Intelligence and Why is it Important? Alternatively, scroll below to see how we can support your business with specialist cyber security recruitment.

Get in touch with a cyber security recruiter today!

If you’re looking to build your cyber security culture with permanent and contract talent, we’ve got the strategic solutions for you. Our specialist cyber security recruitment team is here to boost your hiring strategy by connecting you with the market’s top professionals who can help you foster and grow a cyber security culture. 

Get in touch with one of our experts today and discover how we can take you one step closer to building a cyber security culture for your brand.