Making Your Employees Excited About Your Cybersecurity Strategy

Cyberattacks cost businesses millions each year, and employees are the weak point. Here’s how to educate them about cyberattacks and protecting your business.  

Did you know that the average cost of a cyberattack is now over one million dollars? This total factors in the cost of lost or diminished productivity and the impact on customers and their negative response. Many attacks also include some type of service disruption, which can negatively impact your bottom-line as well.

If you’re a small- or mid-size business, you might not suffer a seven-figure loss due to cyberattacks. But it’s clear that the threat of cyberattacks is real, and they have a major financial impact on businesses, no matter how big or small you are. Without the right cybersecurity plan, your business is at risk.

As you start to plan your cybersecurity strategy, the first step is educating your employees. The leading cause of data breaches, for example, is actually human error. In fact, a survey of businesses conducted by Shred-It found that almost half of all companies had experienced at least one data breach caused by employee error. This is not an idle threat. It can, and will, happen to businesses just like your own.

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To help shore up your cybersecurity strategy and safeguard your company from cyberattacks, here are five important things to do to educate your employees as soon as possible:

1. Don’t Go Overboard to Start

The worst thing you can do is put together a long, boring memo with an accompanying document of best practices and expect your employees to digest the information. You need to keep it short and simple to start. Use videos and infographics to make them care. Start with the most important action items to start and slowly introduce more over a couple of weeks or months. Organize ongoing training sessions for follow-ups and open discussion. You’ll be giving out a lot of information – taking it slowly gives your employees the chance to understand and implement your action items. Spreading it out over time makes cybersecurity a part of your company’s culture, not just a one-time initiative left to collect dust in the corner.

2. Run Simulated Trainings

The best way to learn is to see something in action. For example, have your IT department send out fake phishing emails to employees randomly throughout the month and see who clicks on them and who alerts them of a potential problem. You can use this information to see who needs further training and what types of messages are going to pose an elevated risk.

3. Trickle Down From the Top

A truly effective cybersecurity strategy has to start from the top and trickle down to the rest of the company. Executives and managers must be trained first and given the responsibility of ensuring that their employees are ready to handle cyberattacks, too. If they’re not onboard, there’s no reason for their teams to be onboard, either. Start off by fully training them and everything else will take care of itself sooner than later.

4. Develop and Communicate a Clear Emergency Plan

Training your employees to know how to safeguard themselves from cyberattacks and what to look for is important, but it’s ultimately not going to be effective unless they know what to do when they notice that something is amiss. All employees should know exactly who to contact if they have any questions or in the case of an emergency. Most importantly, they should feel comfortable and confident reaching out immediately.

5. Keep the Momentum Going

Once you’ve gotten your employees educated and excited (or at least onboard with) cybersecurity, you have to keep it going. Schedule regular sessions to talk about the latest industry threats and field any questions your employees might have. Make them a part of the process, introducing any horror stories or threats that they might have encountered or read about. This makes them a part of the process and keeps them engaged with your overall cybersecurity strategy.

A strong cybersecurity plan is only as effective as the employees carrying it out every single day. With a strong employee education initiative, you can ensure that not only is your plan solid, but it’s being acted out and implemented day-to-day. In the end, your business will be protected and your business can operate uninterrupted.