What makes a strong company culture? The answer to this question has only broadened as companies move to remote and hybrid work, making culture harder to cultivate. The good news? The pandemic placed a spotlight on how culture attracts and retains talent. Not only have we now recognized that a top-down approach to company culture isn't sustainable, but maintaining culture is a shared responsibility.
The same mindset applies to creating a strong cybersecurity culture. In fact, the definitions of company culture and cybersecurity culture are similar: “The concept of cybersecurity culture refers to the attitudes, knowledge, assumptions, norms and values of the workforce of an organization with respect to cybersecurity. These are shaped by the goals, structure, policies, processes, and leadership of the organization.”
However, changing people’s attitudes and behaviors is no small feat. For years, CISOs and security leadership have dealt with the challenge the human element poses to their organization. And with growing security and IT staff shortages, manually monitoring safeguards is no longer realistic.
The good news is that there are proven tactics that can help you better understand how your employees are engaging with cybersecurity policies and procedures. We’ve outlined four of them here.
How to Build a Strong Cybersecurity Culture
1. Sharing is caring: Like broader company culture, teams share cybersecurity responsibilities. But creating this kind of cybersecurity culture across an organization takes time. Start with ensuring security protocols and standards are clearly defined in corporate policies. This way, every employee understands the principles from day one.
2. Set realistic goals: Unrealistic goals can create a sense of company-wide apathy, which is dangerous to cybersecurity efforts. When mapping out goals, consider asking questions like, "What are our current and future risks? Which direction is the organization going? How can we enforce cybersecurity policies in that direction?" Mapping out goals should include understanding the current state of risk, clear and defined steps to mitigate risks, and which systems are in place when things don't go as planned. Remember, you can't go from maturity A to maturity D in one step.
3. Lead with transparency: Reporting a cybersecurity incident can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Transparency on both the employee and the cybersecurity sides is vital to quickly and efficiently responding to cyber incidents. While transparency takes time, consider establishing rapport with other teams, especially those frequently exposed to cyber risks, like the business development or sales teams. Roundtable security discussions or check-ins also let IT and security professionals help peers understand protocols while building positive relationships. This means that when a cybersecurity incident occurs, it's easy for employees to report — and it feels like the right thing to do.
"A positive security culture is all about trust. It means making an environment where employees can report security issues without fear, knowing their security team understands their work and is ready to help when things go wrong." - Daniel Trauner, Senior Director, Security, Axonius
4. Find ways to automate manual tasks: Organizational leaders understand that things change quickly, and the same goes for cybersecurity. When assets deviate from policies or desired states, taking action to uncover and respond to risks can take time and effort — leaving IT and security teams with less time to focus on strategic tasks. Automation is one way to free them up. For example, at Axonius, we leverage our Cybersecurity Asset Management solution’s Enforcement Center capabilities to automate patching unmanaged software. We experimented with sending targeted email notifications to users with devices harboring critical or high-severity Firefox vulnerabilities and saw dramatic improvements.
Implementing solutions like Axonius Enforcement Center to automate remediation is vital to maintaining cyber hygiene. Tools like Axonius can help cybersecurity professionals quickly and easily take action by sending alerts, deploying commands, updating the CMDB, and increasing the scope of vulnerability scanning — all from one management console.
How Axonius bolsters cybersecurity culture efforts
As organizations grow, developing strong cybersecurity efforts is essential. Axonius provides companies with the solutions they need to not only manage more devices, data, SaaS applications, access, and interconnectivity, but helps IT and security teams build a culture of cybersecurity. By automating policy-based actions, Axonius ensures accountability and transparency – key elements of a strong cybersecurity culture.