Creating a cybersecurity culture has always been a central part of every effective cybersecurity strategy. The last two years have seen a rise in cybercrime attacks. You also may have noticed that cybercriminals are getting creative in the ways they try to get into office networks to steal patient data and cripple a practice. That’s why creating a cybersecurity culture needs to be incorporated into your office management protocols moving forward.
What is Cybersecurity Culture?
The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) defines (PDF) cybersecurity culture as the knowledge, beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, assumptions, norms, and values of employees regarding cybersecurity and how they manifest themselves in people’s behavior with information technologies.
Having a strong cybersecurity culture is important because employees are the first line of defense against cyberthreats. An organization can have the latest and greatest cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions, but that’s not enough to address the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain: people.
In fact, most experts agree that employees are one of the biggest weaknesses in IT security, which is why a strong cybersecurity culture characterized by a collective responsibility for data security can have such a profoundly positive effect on the entire organization, allowing it to better deal with all current and future threats alike.
Establishing a Strong Cybersecurity Culture in Three Steps
It’s true that a cybersecurity culture takes a long time to fully mature, but planting its seeds is surprisingly easy.
Step 1: Establish Basic Cybersecurity Policies and Procedures
A solid cybersecurity culture must be built on an equally solid foundation, which is why your first step should always be the establishment of basic cybersecurity policies and procedures. The basics you need to cover include password management and authentication, email security, data transfer measures, reporting of stolen equipment and safe web browsing, just to name a few.
Step 2: Focus on Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Simply having cybersecurity policies in place is, unfortunately, not enough. Employees also must undergo cybersecurity awareness training to understand how the policies they are asked to follow fit into the big picture. Cybersecurity awareness training should be as engaging as possible (boring PowerPoint slides just don’t cut it in 2022), and it’s also worth supplementing it with mock cyberattack exercises, which give employees a valuable opportunity to put their knowledge to test.
Step 3: Implement the Right Cybersecurity Tools — Especially for Email
Bring in compliance experts to verify your email system meets every federal standard for compliance when sharing protected health information (PHI) electronically. Educate your staff on ways to identify common tactics cybercriminals use with email to get into your system. Phishing, for example, is designed to get you to click a link, call a number or respond with personal information. Make sure your practice is using a truly HIPAA-compliant secure email, with multi-layered security, to prevent phishing attempts from even making it to your inbox. A high encryption level of 2048-bit and a built-in user verification process will make your practice email almost impossible for a cybercriminal to access.
Think of cybersecurity tools such as password managers and spam filters as support pillars. They strengthen your cybersecurity culture, but they shouldn’t be confused with the culture itself, which is the sum of employees’ knowledge, beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, assumptions, norms and values.
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