Last year, we saw an unprecedented increase in cyberattacks. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received a record number of complaints with potential losses exceeding $6.9 billion. As malicious cyber activity grows in frequency and severity, organizations need the full buy-in of data security policies and procedures to protect themselves, employees, customers, partners, and any other stakeholders who an attack may impact.
To build a truly efficient and effective cybersecurity program, organizations must have everyone on board and collaborating to protect their sensitive data, including leadership. The stakes are high, and cybersecurity and IT professionals know that getting buy-in from the entire organization is essential to combating cyberattacks.
The Three B’s of Organizational Buy-In
Say you buy a gym membership because you want to improve your fitness. But if you don’t ever make it to the gym, what good is the membership? To get into good shape, you’ll need to put in a little extra work up front and continue to maintain it to see results. A solid security posture is similar, as any technology or process will require ongoing attention to be truly effective. Organizations can’t set and forget cybersecurity, and getting buy-in is the first step.
It’s often not a question of if a large website will be breached; it’s when. Once attackers are in, they might have access to emails, passwords, and other sensitive information that could expose an organization to even more risk. The global average cost of a data breach increased by 10% last year, reaching $4.24 million.
The risk of not achieving buy-in is that organizations can be left without proper defenses to protect them from exposed, stolen, or deleted data or accounts. Beyond immediate repercussions, cyberattacks can also cause operational downtime, increase cyber insurance denials or premiums, and complicate regulatory compliance. To gain organizational buy-in, focus on the three B’s.
A comprehensive policy with clear guidelines sets the stage for a cybersecurity-first mindset that becomes ingrained in organizational culture. Communicating consistently with objective standards that apply to all members of an organization reduces liability. It ensures that all parties understand agreed-upon standards and best practices if an incident occurs. These baseline policies should be communicated clearly and frequently, encouraging questions and open discussion across teams and levels to ensure everyone from the newest hire to the CEO is on board.
Best Line of Defense
With proper training and guidance, employees can be the best line of defense to protect an organization. The whole mindset that employees are the weakest link in cybersecurity needs to change. Employees can be your biggest ally when you set clear expectations and policies and deploy dynamic training, making them determined cyber defenders. Regular training and guidance on top of baseline policies will ensure employees are able to make the right decisions in the event of a cyberattack.
Benefits for All
Some might ask, “what’s in it for me?” From the intern to the executive leadership team, everyone in an organization plays a role in cybersecurity readiness. Gamifying cybersecurity training helps grab employees’ attention, but leadership must also pay attention to rewarding good individual cybersecurity habits. Everyone wants to be a team player and should be recognized for their password hygiene, phishing identification skills, and other cybersecurity knowledge in performance reviews and bonuses to enforce the importance of their cybersecurity buy-in.
Watch our webinar to find out how to implement a successful employee security awareness program.
All for One, One for All
One breach can allow attackers access to critical systems and data throughout an organization. Without clearly defined expectations of good password hygiene and the utilization of MFA included in an organization’s data security policy and procedures, credentials are more likely to be stolen and used by a cyber attacker. They may even already be on the dark web unknowingly.
By clearly communicating expectations through policies, training, and acknowledgments of good behavior, organizations can help everyone understand the importance of cybersecurity and their roles in defending themselves and the organization. Many IT professionals understand the importance of robust password hygiene and the use of multifactor authentication (MFA). Still, they are met with a roadblock when they need buy-in from senior leadership. Getting buy-in is essential to ensure these protocols are included in company-wide data security policy and procedures and overcome employee pushback.
Tip when speaking to non-IT leadership: leave the technical jargon at the door. Help your fellow leadership understand that security is a business problem. They want to know the likelihood of a cyber incident occurring, its impact on the company’s ability to produce and sell its products or services, and its potential impact on the brand.
The sooner you get policies in place; the sooner employees can start following them and reducing risk to the business. Having a policy in place before an incident or issue arises is always the best-case scenario, but it’s never too late to add one. And don’t be afraid to update—your policy should be a living document that changes with your business needs. In the event of an incident, it’s often more effective to treat it as an opportunity for improvement rather than punishment.
Along with clear and established policies, employee education and training are part of a comprehensive cybersecurity program that allows organizations to respond to and recover from potential cyber threats. Getting organizational buy-in may take time and can be challenging to quantify, especially across teams and levels. Without full buy-in from all stakeholders, cybersecurity projects may not get off the ground or could be halted in their tracks before having a real impact. Further, anyone can be a target of a cyberattack that can affect the whole organization. By getting organizational buy-in, everyone can be a cyber-defender, taking responsibility for cybersecurity by being cyber-aware and following organizations’ guidelines.
The Essentials for Getting Buy-In:
- To build a truly efficient and effective cybersecurity program, organizations must have everyone on board and collaborating to protect their sensitive data, including leadership.
- The three B’s of organizational buy-in are baseline policies, best line of defense, and benefits for all.
- Clearly communicate expectations through policies, training, and acknowledgments of good behavior to help everyone understand the importance of cybersecurity.
- The sooner you get policies in place; the sooner employees can start following them and reducing risk to the business.
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