Why is it important to have a sound security awareness policy?
Some employers make a mistake by thinking that security officers and/or IT department personnel are responsible for information security. In fact, carelessness of only one staff member from any department can enable hackers to get control over your sensitive information, personal data or to steal your firm’s money. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that each employee is a level of your company’s security.
By implementing a security awareness policy you can impose security obligations on all workers. Security awareness in the workplace means proactive approach to dangers of online or offline threats. A policy sets out what constitutes your critical information, how it is protected from external and internal threats, gives important safety guidelines and outlines steps to be taken in an emergency situation. Thanks to an awareness policy you can foster safety of your business, employees and customers.
To enforce a security awareness policy you need to provide adequate security awareness training policy for your personnel and develop a security awareness policy template that workers can go by.
Components of a security awareness training
It is true that for the majority of workers a training means something boring. In order not to overwhelm employees with a plethora of rules during a formal training, you can deliver information in various ways: via e-mails, videos, memos, notices, posters, computer-based training, etc., and repeat the same information in various channels of communication.
It is worth mentioning that security awareness training should be implemented at different levels: general security awareness for all staff members, intermediate security awareness for managers and decision makers and in-depth security awareness for IT personnel and specialized personnel such as accounting and procurement workers.
A company's template should cover the following issues:
- Use of passwords and policy regarding password length and validity
- What constitutes sensitive information
- Maintaining workplace
- Dealing with e-mails that contain suspicious web-links
- Internet and e-mail access policy
- Storing and disposal of paper-based data
- Physical security
- Avoiding malicious software
- Social engineering awareness
- Emergency situations
- Threats of unauthorized access, etc.
Security awareness training policy for managers presupposes that managers are aware of consequences of data breach. By understanding what dangers a cyberattack can pose executives and supervisors will take the necessary steps to avoid those risks and get across security policy to their subordinates.
Security awareness training policy for specialized personnel will differ in any organization depending on specific roles available at that institution. For example, system administrators should be trained how to configure networks safely, app developers should understand their responsibility towards company’s security, make sure coding is secure, be aware of possible threats and know effective countermeasures, etc.
To enforce the policy, you can develop it together with the security information department or adapt a security awareness policy template to your company’s needs.
These days security should be on each company’s priority list. By enforcing a security awareness policy, making all personnel understand basic security principles and safeguarding against possible threats your business can derive amazing benefits!
Who is suitable for workplace security training?
A program would be beneficial to any company, irrespective of its size and main activity. However, real life incidents show that small companies are in a high-risk group for any sort of attack. The reason for that is lack of the infrastructure available at large corporations (like staff members or budgets allocated to security issues, etc.). Many small business owners are confident that burglars and hackers target large corporations and remain blissfully unaware of the fact that the majority of cyberattacks are aimed at small companies. According to a report, small business are the most vulnerable to fraud too.
According to the 2016 State of SMB Cybersecurity report, 14 million hacker attacks in the USA were aimed at small business
Workplace security awareness and physical security
Unauthorized access and security is the most common threat that any organization might face. Sometimes an unescorted visitor may be less dangerous to a company than a fraudulent worker who has access to sensitive information. Loss or leakage of data may bring financial damage, disclosure of confidential information or identity theft.
Therefore, it is important to set up a policy pertaining to access control as part of a security awareness program.
Think about the following:
- How are entrances and doors are controlled?
- How can a visitor be identified?
- How many staff members have access to confidential information?
- Is there a need for a sophisticated security system or can you do with general access cards?
Should your employees have access control of different level depending on their role in the company?
- Do employees know how to react in case of a dangerous situation (like break-in, loitering, etc.?)
These questions should help you improve your physical security, create an access control policy that every employee should be made aware of thanks to a workplace security training.
What will you gain after implementing a security awareness program?
By adopting in a security awareness program your organization:
- will become conscious of the physical and cyber-dangers
- analyze possible threats
- identify your company’s weak spots and work towards eliminating them
- create a culture of security within the organization
- choose a proactive rather than reactive approach to security
It is worth to remember that security awareness is an ongoing process, not a one time action. First you have to create internal procedure, set up company security as well as control policies and then adapt them depending on a situation and as possible threats change.
Although it is hard to predict and foresee every possible threat, companies that implement a workplace security training increase their chances of protecting physical assets, employees and customer data if a dangerous situation arises. By establishing a culture of security awareness you also teach employees that security is a shared responsibility.