Cyberattacks have become an all-too-prevalent reality in today’s business landscape. In fact, cyberattacks increased by 38% in 2022 alone. This means every company should have a cybersecurity plan in place to prepare for the worst, in case it happens.
With the cost of an average business data breach now reaching a staggering $4.35 million, no organization can afford to let its guard down. And because hacks can affect every area of operations, from the top down, it’s vital to build awareness among employees to ensure that they understand the consequences and take an active role in protecting your organization’s assets.
Here’s how to get your team on board with new policies to ensure your company remains safe against threats. The right kind of motivation can work wonders.
7 Ways to Get Employees to Care About Cybersecurity
1. Start With New Hires
Get people to pay attention to cybersecurity policies right from the beginning of their tenure with your company. The onboarding process is a great time to explain your procedures to new hires. This helps employees feel more confident about their workplace, and they’ll be better prepared for any threats that occur while they’re still getting used to organizational practices.
People tend to pay more attention to policies and procedures during onboarding than if they’ve been on the job for a while. Once you develop a cybersecurity plan, inform new hires of everything they need to know about the procedures, as well as the regulations they need to follow to keep the company’s information safe and secure. And whenever you update existing methods or policies, don’t forget to inform current employees about these changes, so everyone is on the same page.
2. Conduct a Simulated Run-Through
There’s no better way to practice cybersecurity policies than by simulating an attack. Your team can discuss what to do if a hack actually occurs, so everyone is prepared for real threats before they occur.
Before the “drill,” be sure to inform everyone on the team that you’ll be running a test case, so they won’t become overly stressed about the exercise. Be sure to emphasize that this is an opportunity for everyone to learn. If you give them a break from their usual work patterns to focus on the simulation, they’re likely to be more invested in learning how to prevent an actual cyberattack from occurring.
3. Evaluate Remote Work
Many people love remote work. However, it isn’t necessarily the safest or most reliable way to ensure everyone is following your cybersecurity rules. In fact, more than half of employees under 30 make more cybersecurity mistakes when working from home. That means it’s especially vital to communicate the importance of maintaining consistent security practices when working outside the office. In particular, teams that work with sensitive information should be provided with all the tools and training needed to ensure data is handled properly.
Alternatively, instead of having your entire team work on a fully remote basis, you may prefer to build a hybrid schedule, where team members work onsite at least a few days each week, so everyone is comfortable following cybersecurity procedures.
You can increase remote work flexibility once it’s clear that everyone understands cybersecurity policies and practices. However, the key is to ensure that everyone on your team understands the plan and proactively adheres to the rules, regardless of whether they’re working onsite or in a remote environment.
4. Incentivize Continuous Training
Perhaps you don’t want to schedule discussions with workers about various cybersecurity measures. Instead, offer a continuous training program with resources employees can review at their convenience.
To ensure everyone engages with training, completes the materials, and understands the content, offer incentives that entice people to work through all of the information. Financial incentives make great motivators. A small monetary bonus may be enough to encourage everyone to read through the resources and implement the security tactics they learn. And to reinforce the learning process, be sure a manager or cybersecurity team member is available to answer any questions that arise as people complete their training materials.
5. Conduct Evaluations With Rewards
Nothing motivates people like rewards. Offering bonus incentives can get employees motivated and engaged with your policies, and keep them interested in future program adjustments. Next time you evaluate or audit your business’s cybersecurity habits, issues and practices, consider rewarding people who have gone above and beyond to follow your policies.
Ideas for rewards include extra vacation time, restaurant gift cards or opportunities to leave work early on Fridays. These are simple gestures, but they can go a long way to gain attention and compliance.
6. Implement Mandatory Password Changes
It’s harder for cybercriminals to hack into your accounts when you have good, strong passwords you change regularly. Nearly every company deals with sensitive information these days, so it is essential to lock down every account.
To keep everyone in check, mandate a password change every few months, and ensure employees use unique letter and number combinations that aren’t attached to other accounts. Over time, your team members should anticipate these procedures and treat them as an accepted business routine.
7. Communicate the Risks
Think about what is at risk if your company is hacked. Small businesses must be especially careful, because they’re targeted by about 43% of all cyberattacks.
But no matter what your company size, how you deal with cybersecurity threats or information breaches can significantly affect your brand’s perception. That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of the message you convey in your policies and actions.
When a breach occurs, businesses that don’t handle the fallout well are likely to lose customers and clients. You can prevent this by having a streamlined system of recovery procedures in place. For example, you’ll need a plan for breaking the news to key parties, getting your brand back on track, and taking steps to improve your current systems.
It’s important to get ahead of this kind of problem by ensuring that your whole team is on the same page about risks, and wants to work together to keep your company and its assets as safe as possible.
Bottom Line: Prioritize Your Company’s Safety
Cyberattacks are on the rise. That means you can’t afford to ignore the real risks to your business data and systems. Start by emphasizing the risks of lackluster security. Ensure that every employee is aware of the risks, including how a security breach could affect their job. Making it personal may be what you need to ensure compliance.
Once you offer incentives, explain the importance of maintaining good practices, and illustrate how to practice cybersecurity on an ongoing basis, employees are more likely to change how they work. If you consistently emphasize the value of cybersecurity to your business and your customers, your entire team should soon follow suit.