June 2024

A Culture of Cybersecurity Awareness Helps Manage Risk and Boost Your ROI – Here’s How

Benjamin Netter Riot CEO
Benjamin Netter

Not so long ago, people smoked everywhere. They smoked in offices, they smoked in planes. They even smoked in schools. Then, we realized the health impacts, and the culture changed. Just try lighting up on a flight today and see what happens.

The same kind of shift is underway with cybersecurity – but it isn’t happening fast enough. People might be less likely to use ‘password123’ or give out their login credentials, but they’re still falling for phishing attacks and forgetting to turn on multi-factor authentication.

So, how can we drive the shift to greater awareness and make cyber vulnerability the new smoking? Here, we’ll look at five reasons why cybersecurity awareness is so crucial for businesses, and offer some tips to build a culture that works for you.

But first, a key question: What does the term ‘cybersecurity awareness’ actually mean?

What do we mean when we talk about cybersecurity awareness?

These days, we all know cybersecurity is important – or at least we say we do. For example, 88% of company boards now think of cybersecurity as a broader risk to business, rather than just an IT problem. But do we all understand what it means to be aware of these risks?

Broadly, a culture of cybersecurity awareness refers to a workforce’s shared norms, attitudes, and practices when it comes to cybersecurity. It’s the answer to the question of ‘how we do things around here’, but applied to digital technology, online systems, and data.

Your organization’s cybersecurity culture is shaped by your leadership, your policies and processes, and your investments in systems and technologies. And with cyberattacks becoming more sophisticated, damaging, and frequent, it’s never been more important to prioritize a culture of cyber awareness.

Do your teams store sensitive data securely? Can they detect phishing attacks, and do they know what to do if they’re being scammed? Do they know how to flag a potential data breach? These questions will tell you what of cybersecurity culture you have – and where the gaps are.

Now, let’s take a look at how a culture of cybersecurity awareness helps you boost your tech ROI.

Learn more: Our Cybersecurity Courses Get 91%+ Completion Rates – Here’s How We Write Them

5 ways a culture of cybersecurity awareness helps boost ROI

A culture of cybersecurity awareness is the glue holding your systems and technologies together. You can invest in the most secure network in the world, but if a scammer can access your system just by calling someone in accounts and impersonating your CEO, it’s all for nothing.

Here are five ways boosting team awareness can help you manage the risk of cyberattacks and get more out of your investments in technology.

#1: It protects you from human error

Let’s start with a sobering reminder: Human error is the single biggest factor leading to successful cyberattacks. That’s why boosting staff awareness of cybersecurity threats is the best way to stay safe – especially teaching people how to respond to these threats.

Let’s look at data breaches. In 2023, there were 3,205 major data breaches in the US affecting the data of an estimated 353 million people. Studies suggest 74% of these kinds of breaches involve an element of human error, like granting scammers system access under false pretence.

In other words, cybersecurity awareness can reduce the risk of data breaches by up to three-quarters. And with each of these breaches costing around $4.35 million on average, even a small improvement in your team’s ability to detect attempted scams can pay dividends.

#2: It keeps your entire business network (including third parties) safe

A culture of cybersecurity awareness doesn’t just help you manage your own risk, but helps keep your business network safe, too. And with more scammers targeting companies by exploiting third-party systems, it’s never been more important to build this shared culture.

The Okta 2021 data breach offers a practical example of how third-party security failings can threaten your organization. This breach was initially caused by vulnerabilities in Sykes, a company contracted by Okta to provide customer support services – but it allowed scammers to access data from more than 350 of Okta’s corporate customers.

Okta Cybersecurity Awareness

Okta experienced significant negative impacts as a result of a third-party breach.

With a $6 billion drop in Okta’s market capitalization in the weeks following their public disclosure of the breach, this example shows the real risks of third-party security weaknesses. With a stronger shared commitment to cybersecurity awareness, Okta and its business partners might have been able to identify and address vulnerabilities like those giving rise to this breach.

For EU organizations, these third-party checks are now even more critical. Under NIS2, affected entities need to assess supply chain partner cybersecurity protections and take active steps to address any vulnerabilities identified as a result.

And speaking of compliance…

#3: It helps you comply with regulatory requirements and ace your audits

As part of your cybersecurity strategy, you should be conducting regular audits to ensure your systems are performing as expected. Your organization will also be subject to regulations such as NIS2, GDPR, and HIPAA, which require you to take steps to keep sensitive data safe, and to adopt wider cybersecurity practices such as risk identification and incident response planning.

By building a culture of cybersecurity awareness throughout your organization, you make it easier to ace your audits and stop these regulatory requirements from becoming a headache. That’s because you’re helping your teams understand these shared requirements and how they apply to their day-to-day tasks and responsibilities.

#4: It gets the most out of your wider tech investments

Organizations everywhere are already starting to take cybersecurity seriously, and it’s showing in their budgets. For example, one study suggests US enterprise companies are now allocating 9.9% of their total IT spend on cybersecurity. For some, this amounts to millions each year.

But what good are these investments if you don’t build your cybersecurity awareness? Scammers are always dreaming up new ways to get around your systems, and if your teams don’t know how to identify common cyberattacks like phishing or CEO fraud, you’ll still be exposed. So, invest in awareness training that helps your team get the most out of your tools and systems.

Now, let’s finish by looking at the single biggest argument for cybersecurity awareness.

#5: It’s the single cheapest thing you can do – and the most effective

Beyond helping you stay audit-ready and preventing scammers from sidestepping your systems, there’s one reason why promoting a culture of cybersecurity awareness helps you to manage your risks. Put simply, it’s the single most effective step you can take – and it’s cheap.

The right cybersecurity awareness training costs a fraction of what it costs to maintain a secure network – and an even smaller fraction of the potential damage and disruption that would arise from a successful data breach or phishing attack. If this training helps you prevent just one scam attempt, it’s already paid for itself.

Some tips to build a great culture of cybersecurity awareness

So, you’re convinced cybersecurity awareness matters. Great! Now, you might be wondering how to actually build the right culture of awareness within your organization.

Here are a few steps you can take to help get your teams up to speed:

  • Roll out regular awareness training: Great cybersecurity awareness needs regular training to help everyone stay on top of the latest scams and threats. You need to provide your teams with punchy, memorable training sessions people can complete in five minutes or less.

Cybersecurity Awareness Courses

  • Develop a cybersecurity strategy: Every organization needs a cybersecurity strategy outlining who leads your security efforts, how you identify and manage risks, what to do in case of a breach or other major incident, and how you comply with data privacy regulations.
  • Commit to visible cybersecurity leadership: A great culture of cybersecurity awareness needs a human face, so be sure to make your leadership visible to everyone. People should know exactly who to go to if they have any tricky questions.
  • Put your team to the test: Learning about cybersecurity is one thing – but you also need to put this learning to the test by simulating common attacks, such as phishing campaigns. This way, you can find out who’s been paying attention, and who needs some more support.

And speaking of phishing, take a look at our free checklist on what makes a great simulation.

5 Things all Great Phishing Simulations Get Right

Cybersecurity awareness is key – so invest in training that works

Cyber vulnerability is the new smoking. And just like your school, hospital, or even your company offices are now all smoke-free zones, it’s time to make them cyberattack-free zones, too.

That’s why it’s so important to build a strong culture of cybersecurity awareness, and to actively identify, manage, and address security vulnerabilities wherever we see them. But to do that, you need cybersecurity training people actually love.

Albert uses conversational training to teach your team about the latest cybersecurity threats, including AI-powered deepfakes, WhatsApp scams, and more. Even better, you can run phishing simulations to find out who your cyber champions are, and who needs more help with the basics.

To find out how Albert can help you and your team boost your cybersecurity awareness and manage your risks, get in touch with one of our experts today.