The Security Innovation Europe Blog

How to Develop a Secure Culture Within Your Organisation

Posted by Alan Pearson on Nov 26, 2014

biggest-risk-infosecSecurity awareness, staff training and policy development all play a crucial role in protecting your organisation from security risks – but in order to see real benefits from your actions, your organisation needs to develop a secure culture.

Why Security Awareness Isn’t Enough

Instilling security awareness within your organisation is a crucial first-step towards true company-wide security. By raising the profile of security, you allow individuals to identify potential problems, and understand the need for codified security policies; but in order to encourage individuals to take action on security policy, you need to develop a secure culture.

A secure culture is a framework of real-world values which empowers individuals to place organisational security at the forefront of their day-to-day activities. It’s a company-wide reinforcement of the importance of digital security, and encourages individuals to put security practices into action. It gives people the confidence to say ‘I think there’s a problem with this email attachment’, or ‘There’s something wrong with this software – and it’s these practical applications of security which will protect your organisation from security risks.

6 Steps to Developing a Secure Culture

Whilst creating policies and enacting security training regimens are relatively easy to assess and measure, developing an organisational culture of security can be much harder to achieve. However, there are a few tried-and-tested practices which will help legitimise security practices, and encourage individuals to take responsibility for their organisation’s security.

1) Get Visible Buy-in From All Levels of The Organisation

Secure culture needs to be organisation-wide. Getting senior executives on-board with the best practices of security will help set a positive precedent, and raise company-wide awareness for the culture. Choosing a ‘security champion’ from amongst top-level executives will also encourage people to take personal responsibility for security; illustrating the fact that everyone, even senior executives, needs to be concerned about security.

2) Ditch The Jargon, and Speak in Terms People Can Relate to

Abstract terms like threat, risk and mitigation can be hard to translate into real-world actions. Wherever possible, talk about organisational security in practical terms that relate to the day-to-day activities of each team. Talk about the common types of security threats they’re likely to come across, and demonstrate the right type of action they should take in response.

3) Take Action on Your Own Security Shortcomings

If you want to legitimise risk identification, and encourage appropriate action, it’s crucial that you lead from the front. Speak openly about any security shortcomings you’ve discovered within the organisation, and make it clear that action has been taken to remedy them. Your security culture should be viewed as the hands-on accompaniment to your security policy; and the only way to encourage the growth of a secure culture is to demonstrate it in action.

4) Create a Diverse Security Team

If you intend to make individual figureheads accountable for security, it’s crucial that these individuals are drawn from all areas of the organisation. Security needs to be seen as transcending hierarchical structures, and reinforced as a priority for every single department within the organisation. Choosing a security team from a single department risks shifting responsibility to a single team, and may segregate security practices away from the company as a whole.

5) Follow Through

A secure culture should span the entire lifetime of the organisation. Once policies and training programs have been implemented, it’s crucial that your organisation continues promoting and abiding by their security measures. Continually re-evaluating security procedures will help keep them at the forefront of the team’s mind, as well as ensuring their continued relevance in a fast-moving digital environment.

6) Reinforce Positive Actions

It’s also a great idea to continually reinforce positive security actions. Whenever individuals or departments are involved in identifying or remedying a security issue, recognise their contribution to the security of the organisation as a whole. how to roll out and effective application security training program