Developing a security-first culture in a hybrid workplace !!!

Security professionals traditionally hold close to their hearts the responsibility to maintain the integrity of networks. We feel this perpetuates a stereotype that only a select few can handle that responsibility, which disservices those of us who believe a security-first culture should be an organization-wide initiative.

When the entire company is becoming a mobile-centric endpoint, IT leaders need to give some cybersecurity duties to the very people who affect the organization’s health the most–its employees. Several cybersecurity attacks have occurred in recent months against the Colonial Pipeline, the meat industry in the U.S., EA, etc., proving that security risks can occur in all sectors.

Companies that prioritize security provide training and tools tailored to each remote User’s behaviour and skill set with the aim of simplifying their lives as well as empowering employees at every level by enhancing the user experience. A security-first culture must take hold of the way we think about security at a corporate level and influence how employees implement security in their daily work environments (regardless of where they operate). To improve their cybersecurity landscape, business and IT leaders need to step back, acknowledge four fundamental changes that need to be made, and take action as appropriate.

1. Recognize that cybersecurity is as much about the people as technology: Malignant foreign actors and high-tech hacking schemes don’t pose the greatest threat to remote users; human nature is behind it.

It is easy to see how apathy, short attention spans, and bad cyber habits are the natural enemies of a secure network when more than one-third of remote workers say they feel overwhelmed when trying to keep track of all their account credentials. IT administrators’ challenges need to shift some of your focus (and resources) away from protecting endpoints and infrastructure with technology and toward fostering changes that change employee behaviour, mindset, and security practices.   

 Creating a communication culture from the very beginning of your onboarding process is vital to reaching this goal. Partnerships between IT leaders and business leaders are essential alongside human resources before an employee logs into a network; it is helpful to train them in good security habits. The proper training and motivation motivate employees to do what is right.

Gamification of security training is improving training effectiveness and rewarding security-centric attitudes in organizations. Incentives and rewards can be given to individuals or teams who possess good security habits, motivating and supporting those with poor scores. The regular updating of your security goals will allow you to demonstrate progress toward their implementation. When employees understand that your company places security above all else, they respond accordingly.

2. Recognize the changing face of remote users and treat each one accordingly

Remote employees are becoming more common, but their skills and attitudes have also changed dramatically. Additionally, new users are emerging from the traditional users (executives, road warriors, and ITs). Researchers have found that three other common remote user types need to be identified, accommodated, and motivated if actual security-first practices are implemented. They are desensitizing the User, not because most remote users are incompetent, but because they have grown accustomed to the online environment. People take the easy way out by using insecure passwords or simply reusing old ones when faced with security challenges, such as remembering multiple credentials.

To reach the desensitized User, you must show that you care about solving their problems, that you want to simplify their lives. If you have users with the wrong credentials, you should give them password managers and user guides. Demonstrate the benefits of software that streamlines processes, emphasize efficiency, and reinforce the messaging by reminding participants that they play a significant role in cyber security.

The Above it All User  These are the power users that IT has traditionally focused on.

The users may be cyber-rock stars, but the security tools should still be user-friendly. The Above it All User might object if you remind them that taking a security-first position will allow them to maintain the fluid boundaries between work and home life to which they are accustomed. Taking a security-first stance is known to be the only way to preserve the fluid boundaries that have been established between the worlds of work and home for The Above It All User.

 In the Out of Touch User Unlike your power users, these users are not big subscribers. Since they have a relatively low tech-IQ, they would not likely work remotely had it not been for the pandemic. Regularly leaving their devices unlocked, they don’t even bother to lock them also leave their password on a sticky note.

To motivate change among Out of Touch Users, responsibility needs to be instilled. Numerous examples exist of how large organizations have tumbled down due to carelessness or being “out of touch.”

Yet you should recognize their limitations as well; you shouldn’t just scare them into compliance. Hence, you should select security tools that are easy to learn and train your team members frequently instead of pointing out their lack of technical knowledge.

The On Top of It User Technology plays a vital role in helping your On Top of It users achieve their goals. Often these need-it-now attitudes lead them to place security over efficiency. On Top of It, users don’t require as much in-depth training. Seeing that you are aware of their Type-A standards and that you have selected software that will enable them to work with the platforms they need to succeed will ensure they feel confident in using those platforms. Instead of being roadblocks, IT staff, policies, and tools must be perceived as shortcuts.

3. Understand that a hybrid workspace requires more flexibility than a traditional work environment :

During the pandemic, as many as 42% of the U.S. workforce worked from home full-time. This number isn’t going to change anytime soon. The biggest issue with this phenomenon is the mingling of company-owned and personal devices in terms of security.

 In many organizations, BYOD policies are just getting implemented that allow employees to bring their technology to work. Also, remote workers’ home devices and networks are now unsecure, putting them in an even more uncomfortable position. BYOD made sense from a rigid standpoint, but the future hybrid workplace requires a softer, more collaborative attitude.

This stance means that IT must include all devices, browsers, operating systems, and networks in your corporate security profile. Your security products must work consistently on all devices. To simplify the security process for employees without interfering in their personal lives, it is crucial to invest in identity and access management (IAM) tools, password training tools, and security first protocols to help simplify the process.

As a facilitator and not a gatekeeper, IT services should provide employees with the tools and support that will allow them to perform their jobs remotely.

4. Provide people with tools that make their lives easier, and they will utilize them :

A tendency for companies, even those with the best-designed cultures, is to default into comfort zones. Remote employees are prone to making mistakes when left to their own devices (no pun intended). To create an organizational culture that focuses on security first, organizations need tools to align employees’ beliefs about safety with their online behaviour.

To evaluate any security tool, IT teams must take note of a few specific factors. IT leaders can take these factors into account before implementing any new security product.

The user interface must be simple. All employees must have access to low-common-denominator skills and technology experience. Low-tech workers will appreciate tools with an elegant user interface, whereas power users will understand easy tools to use.

Several personal technology devices must be easily integrated into it. Before buying at-home technology, employees are unlikely to have consulted corporate. Devices and networks that work seamlessly with security technology will be more likely to adopt a broad audience than those not.

Empowering people to be part of the solution

As organizations strive to create a security-first culture, they must understand security as a human challenge, recognize the changing nature of their remote user base, learn from the essential lessons learned from the COVID-19 experience, and find the right balance between achieving business objectives and improving employee productivity.