What is a security culture?
In today's world, the security culture is a necessity. It refers to the shared beliefs, values, and attitudes that the employees in an organization have towards cybersecurity. A strong security culture is critical for the protection of the company's assets, reputation, and its customers.
A security culture has to be ingrained within the DNA of the organization. It is cultivated by engaging employees, promoting security awareness, and providing continuous training and resources. A comprehensive security culture not only saves the company from potential cyber attacks but also promotes good business practices.
Why is it essential to have a good security culture?
The increasing dependence on technology has made cybersecurity a basic need for all organizations. Cybercriminals don't discriminate when it comes to their targets – whether big or small – everyone is vulnerable. Hence, having a strong security culture is critical for the following reasons.
Maintaining a good reputation:
A security breach doesn't just harm a company's finances, but it can also harm its reputation. It can lead to negative publicity, loss of trust, and in some cases, legal action. Customers and stakeholders expect businesses to be responsible and take cybersecurity seriously.
Prevent loss of data:
Data is an asset to any organization, and losing it could be catastrophic. Cybersecurity breaches leave companies vulnerable to data loss, which can include sensitive information such as transaction details, login credentials, PII, and confidential trade secrets. This data, if in the wrong hands, could lead to severe repercussions.
Protecting from financial loss:
Companies that experience cyber-attacks could incur significant financial losses, damages, and legal fees. It may also end up costing the company their reputation and future business opportunities.
Fostering a security culture
Design a plan:
The first step to developing a security culture is to put together a well-informed strategy. Engaging employees should be a priority when it comes to security culture. Understand their roles and determine the areas where cybersecurity can be compromised. After that, implement appropriate guidelines and policies to protect the organization.
Conduct regular training:
The second step to developing a security culture is to conduct regular security awareness training for employees. Training should be engaging, interactive, and regular. This should include identifying phishing attacks, procedures for reporting incidents, and the proper handling of sensitive data.
Promote a security culture through small wins:
Building a security culture is not a one-off thing; it takes time and effort. Celebrate small wins – such as employees alerting the IT team about an attempted phishing email – and use these to promote the importance of security culture throughout the company.
Providing employees with the necessary resources – such as cybersecurity toolkits, guidance documents, online courses, and access to up-to-date information on emerging threats – helps to create a security culture that is a shared responsibility.
Real-life examples of breaches and how they could have been avoided
Breaches can happen to anyone, but by having a good security culture in place, they can be mitigated or avoided. Here are some real-life examples of breaches and how they could have been avoided.
The Target breach of 2013:
In 2013, Target experienced a massive data breach that resulted in the theft of customer names, addresses, and payment card data. The breach occurred when attackers infiltrated the company's computer systems by hacking into network credentials used by a third-party vendor. The breach could have been prevented by using access controls, two-factor authentication, and employee training.
The Equifax breach of 2017:
In 2017 Equifax announced that it had suffered a cybersecurity breach resulting in 143 million customers' personal data being compromised. The breach occurred as a result of a known vulnerability not being addressed promptly in the system's software, compromising customer details including social security numbers. The breach could have been prevented by applying software updates and configuring alerts for unusual activity.
The Marriott breach of 2018:
Marriott dealt with a data breach that affected its Starwood reservation database and exposed over 500 million records including names, contact information, and passport numbers. The attackers had access to the system for four years before the breach was discovered. The breach could have been prevented by monitoring data access, alerting for unusual activity, and even encrypting sensitive data.
In summary, a strong security culture is vital for any organization's cybersecurity. It is essential to invest in employee training, promote a security culture through small wins, regular checks and provide resources that help in the development of a shared and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity across the organization. By doing this, companies can mitigate the risks associated with cyber threats, protect their customers and their reputation, and increase their chances of long-term business success.