The 3 B’s: Getting Buy-In for Data Security Policies and Procedures

3bs Featured of Getting Buy-in for Data Security Policies featured image
3bs Featured of Getting Buy-in for Data Security Policies featured image

Data security policies and procedures may not seem like the most exciting secret weapons when it comes to fighting cybercrime, but don’t be fooled. These important elements of cybersecurity lay the foundation for a human firewall that can be one of your organization’s best lines of defense against breaches.

It’s tempting to think that only enterprise companies are the targets of hackers, when in reality, 43% of attacks are aimed at growing businesses. The issue isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, either: over 33 billion records are expected to be stolen by cybercriminals in 2023 alone– an increase of 175% over the 12 billion records compromised in 2018.

However, what good are policies and procedures if no one pays attention to them? As malicious cyber-activity grows in frequency and severity, organizations needs their full team, including leadership, to buy into data security policies and procedures to protect themselves, employees, customers, partners, and any other stakeholders who an attack may impact. Soliciting that level of support can be challenging, but we’ve got you covered; simply follow our 3 B’s of Buy-In and you’ll have everyone from the intern to the CEO well-versed in the policies and procedures necessary to protect your organization.

Why is buy-in important? How does it work?

Say you purchase a gym membership because you want to improve your fitness. If you never make it there, the membership won’t be much help. 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. The same goes data security policies and procedures- it’s not enough just to have them; rather, they need to be practiced across the board and on a regular basis to have an impact.

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 cross-organizational acceptance of this fact is the first step. It can be helpful (especially for those finance folks) to remind them that the global average cost of a data breach increased by 10% in 2021, reaching $4.24 million.

What happens if only certain departments or individuals understand and follow your data security policies and procedures? All it takes is one person to click a malicious link or practice poor password hygiene to open the organization to risk. Beyond immediate repercussions, cyberattacks can also cause operational downtime, increase cyber insurance denials or premiums, and complicate regulatory compliance.

So, without further ado: to gain organizational buy-in to your  data security policies and procedures, remember the three B’s. 

1. Build Baseline Policies

A comprehensive policy with clear guidelines sets the stage for a cybersecurity-first mindset that becomes ingrained in organizational culture. Communicating consistently with standards that apply to all members of an organization reduces liability, and ensures all parties understand standing operating procedures and best practices should an incident occur. 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.

2. Believe in Your Best Line of Defense

With proper training and guidance, employees can be the best line of defense to protect an organization top to bottom. The idea that employees are the weakest link in cybersecurity needs to change. The key to gaining the support of your whole team is to communicate their important role in your cybersecurity posture, in addition to making training ongoing, accessible and interactive. Employees can be your biggest ally when you set clear expectations and policies and insert some fun into their training. We recommend deploying dynamic training like Phishing Simulations and/ or Awareness Videos, which results in determined and astute cyber-defenders. Regular training and guidance, in addition to baseline policies, will ensure employees are able to make the right decisions in the event of a cyberattack. 

Time and effort saved is the most critical success criteria with limited resources. Policy development and security awareness training has been made much easier.

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3. Benefits Everyone on the Team

It’s important to communicate that your data security policies and procedures aren’t just in place for the benefit of the organization; rather, they protect the reputation, personal information, and financial well-being of each employee at the company given the domino effect inherent in breaches.

There are also multiple ways of motivating individual team members to support your policies and procedures, which may vary depending on their role. Gamifying cybersecurity training might help 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 hygienephishing identification skills, and other cybersecurity knowledge in performance reviews and bonuses to enforce the importance of their cybersecurity buy-in. We recommend implementing training with built-in participation reporting and automated reminders so you can take the administrative burden off your plate and focus on giving kudos to your engaged employees.

Ready to get started? Learn how to implement a successful employee security awareness program.

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 buy-in for your data security policies and procedures, everyone can be a cyber-defender, taking responsibility for the overall health and cybersecurity of your organization.

Bonus Tip:
When speaking to non-IT leadership, leave the technical jargon at the door. Help your team understand that security is not just a tech problem, but a business problem. Focus on communicating the potential impact on your company’s ability to produce and the risk to brand reputation.

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.
  • Clearly communicate expectations through policies, training, and acknowledgments of good behavior to help everyone understand and value the importance of cybersecurity.
  • The sooner you get policies in place; the sooner employees can start following them and reducing risk to the business.
  • The three B’s of organizational buy-in are:
    • Build baseline policies
    • Believe in your best line of defense
    • Benefits everyone on the team

Not sure where to start? Build your custom technology acceptable use policy, or establish your baseline with our quick 2-minute cybersecurity health checkup.

Resources & insights

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