Boosting your staff’s cybersecurity awareness while keeping them motivated

December 7th, 2020

The proliferation of cyberthreats disguised as COVID-19 information or support proves just how unrelenting cybercriminals can be. This means bolstering your business’s cybersecurity is now more vital than ever. One common mistake business owners make in this regard, however, is focusing too much on defensive technologies while neglecting their staff.

Some experts consider employees to be the weakest link in cybersecurity. This is because human error, such as visiting suspicious websites and using weak passwords, remains among the top causes of data breaches. Therefore, maximizing the security of your business data entails investing in both the right technology and enriching your employees’ cybersecurity awareness.

But in order to successfully train your staff in cybersecurity best practices, you have to be mindful of their morale. In your bid to protect your business data, you may feel compelled to impose strict and stifling restrictions on your employees’ online activities, which may end up demoralizing them. In extreme cases, they may even feel as though they are no longer valued as assets, but are seen as threats to your company.

How can you raise cybersecurity awareness without negatively affecting morale?
Increasing your staff’s knowledge in cybersecurity best practices doesn’t have to come at the cost of their motivation. Consider these tips:

1. Provide an open environment
Encourage your employees to recognize and report potential cyberthreats by giving them a positive experience when they do so. Keep in mind that they are not cybersecurity experts, so leave room for possible errors. For example, they might report a legitimate URL in an email because it looks suspicious to them.

In such instances, focus on educating and improving their knowledge rather than punishing them for their mistake. Dishing out penalties will only make them less likely to tell you when they do click on a suspicious link or commit other risky online behavior. An open environment that provides space and faculty for improvement will make them more eager to learn and help in protecting your company.

2. Add the element of fun
For many people, training calls to mind monotonous lectures. Boredom turns people off, causing them to tune out information and become uncooperative. Thus, if you want your staff to take cybersecurity best practices to heart, you need to find a way to make training interesting.

A good idea is to take their attention span into account. Instead of conducting a drawn-out lecture, why not use brief, easy-to-digest discussions on common subjects, such as phishing, proper reporting, and cyber hygiene, among others? Have them offer their thoughts or toss in a few practical exercises, where possible.

You can also work with your IT team to create gamified modules on cybersecurity. Design the modules as if users are in a game, complete with sounds, videos, or animations. You can also award achievements whenever users finish a module or ace a related quiz.

3. Make security everyone’s responsibility
Some employees dismiss cybersecurity as solely the IT department’s job. Make sure everyone understands that this isn’t true. Ultimately, your network’s security can boil down to everyone’s actions, such as locking their computer when they leave their desk or using a strong password for their work email. By emphasizing this, you teach your staff that while cybersecurity entails a big picture strategy, it’s an endeavor they all have a hand in.

4. Be open about what’s confidential and what’s not
Can you keep something a secret when you don’t even know it’s supposed to be confidential in the first place? When training your staff, be specific about which business information they must never share with third parties and which details are fair game. Client details are confidential, for example, but not your business telephone number. Being more open encourages your employees to be more accountable in their role as protectors of corporate data.

Cybersecurity training is best conducted by experts to ensure that your staff learn accurate best practices that match the needs of your company and the current cyberthreat landscape. Our IT experts here at Cutting Edge Network Technologies can help.

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