If you think of your organization as a medieval fortress, then your information security management system is your fortress walls, and your employees are the gates to the fortress—each and every employee is one gate. Do you feel like your walls suddenly became significantly less impenetrable thanks to all those gates? Well, you’re right! 

No matter how good or expensive your IT systems are and how much thought you put into your data loss prevention program to strengthen those walls, your organization is fair game unless your gates are properly locked.  

Enough metaphors. Your employees need to live and breathe in a security-first mindset while they are working because that’s the only way to protect your organization’s, your partners’, and suppliers’ sensitive data. That’s a whole lot of weight to put on unprepared employee shoulders, so let’s take a look at how to educate them effectively.  

Why educate your employees about cyber security? 

The numbers don’t lie: 

According to the ITRC's 2022 Q1 Data Breach Analysis92% of data compromising incidents were a result of a cyber-attack, and phishing and ransomware were the top two root causes of data compromises. Based on the 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, the cause of 82% of all data breaches involved the human element.  

There’s no denying it. You need to educate your employees about cyber security, because knowledge is power. If your employees are aware of potential cyber threats, they will be in a better position to spot an attack and prevent it from happening.

Phishing and other social engineering threats are the most common ways that a cyber-criminal can try to infiltrate your organization, and they are aimed precisely at unsuspecting humans. They’ll access sensitive information that’ll then allow them to hack the employee’s email and use it to request fund transfers, for example. Or they might be able to get into your organization’s partner or vendor database, which usually includes all kinds of sensitive information, causing damage not only to you, but to 3rd parties, too.

If your employees know how to recognize the signs of these types of attacks, they are less susceptible to falling for them.   

The increase in remote work has also made it more important to focus on cyber-security awareness among employees, because let’s face it—in a non-corporate environment, it’s easier to become lax about rules. You have much less control over employee-owned devices and the networks they use, so you need them to be on top of all your security policies no matter where they’re working from.

How to explain data security to employees  

You want your employees to understand why and how to take care of their and the organization’s data. Here are a few tips on how to do that effectively:  

Get personal

Don’t just send out an email, talk to them in person. Hold a presentation, make a video, show your enthusiasm.  

Let the boss do the talking

If management is involved, everyone will take it more seriously. The CEO doesn’t need to do a whole presentation, but if they show their involvement in the cause, it’ll be much better received than if it’s just the IT department making requests.  

Make it relatable

People are more willing to follow rules that make sense to them. Examples from real life, such as stories of data breaches in well-known companies, demonstrate what you’re talking about, and speaking in “humanish” as opposed to boring everyone with technical language will drive your point home.

Practice makes perfect

In this case, practice means repetition. Cyber-attacks are constantly evolving, so you need to make sure your employees have up-to-date information. Send short data security updates, mention cyber news at regular team meetings or find other ways to keep data security at the forefront of your employees' attention at all times.  

KISS! Keep it short and simple

eep it short and simple. The truth is, humans have about the attention span of a goldfish, so once you lose them, they’re gone. Try to give employees as much information as you can in the shortest amount of time. Bonus points for making it fun. 

Security policies that work  

Say you’ve held an engaging, heck, even entertaining data security meeting and you’re getting ready to send out an email summarizing your organization’s security policies. Your employees are pumped and on board to assume their piece of responsibility over the organization’s cyber security… 

But you’re not over the hill just yet! You could lose their commitment faster than you can say data breach if your policies aren’t:  

  • Easy to understand. Use simple language, not technical jargon.  
  • Easy to implement. You don’t want rules that will stunt productivity.  
  • Easy to remember. A step-by-step or printable guide makes it easy to review rules.  

You’ll also need to make clear who your employees can talk to in case they need help explaining or applying any of the policies.  

You should include not only policies on employee best practices for data loss prevention, but also address how they should react to a threat encounter and who within the organization they should report threats to and how.

Safetica CISO introduces an out-of-the-box approach

Taking an eLearning course once a year is not usually enough to remember all the measures. However, eLearning is a good start, and there is more that you can add to your Security Awareness program:

  • Email campaign: send a short and simple email explaining one security rule every two weeks. 
  • Posters and LED visuals: spread security messages around the office. 
  • Security brochures: give out brochures explaining the fundamentals to your current colleagues and newcomers. 
  • Login screen wallpapers: show security messages on employees’ laptops. 
  • Security Champions: nominate a few security evangelists from each department who will stand as PoC for the topic of security.

Security policies are important from the regulatory perspective. Yet if companies want their employees to follow them, it is necessary not to overcomplicate it. Finding the right balance is key when it comes to data security.

says Radim Trávníček
CISO of Safetica

How Safetica fits into your organization 

Safetica is easy to implement and integrate and simple to use. This means that it does not create extra hassle for your IT department or your employees. The solution runs silently in the background and monitors your sensitive data.

If an employee is about to make a potentially risky operation, a popup appears and notifies them of the security risk. Safetica is a smart solution that allows you to define what should be happening in any scenario. In this example, there are several options:

  • Safetica notifies the employee, but they can proceed if they want. 
  • Safetica notifies the employee and blocks the operation. 
  • Safetica notifies the employee and silently logs the operation, so if something happens, you know exactly what. 
  • Safetica notifies your employee and your IT department as well. 

You see, there are plenty of options. But no worries, even if this sounds complicated, we offer some predefined templates that will help you with all the settings. 

When you decide to use the notifications, your people will get a better understanding of what kind of operations can be risky. Data security is so complex that it is simple to lose track. Safetica is here to help you with that. 

We know that people make mistakes and Safetica has your back. 

Talk to us

Kristýna Svobodová
Content Strategist @Safetica

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