It’s the last week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month! And to wrap it all up, the theme is appropriately named #CybersecurityFirst.
Organizations sometimes tend to look at cybersecurity from a top-down perspective, with perimeter defenses and technological solutions that are effective to a point.
However, investment in cybersecurity awareness brings a security mentality from the bottom up, from the workforce to these barriers, from people to technologies. It also brings a security mentality to processes and products, translating zero trust concepts into human dynamics.
Hence, week 4 is about how “cybersecurity first” and “cybersecurity awareness” across the organization are the same.
Zero Trust – too harsh a word for people? Let’s reframe that.
The core concept of Zero Trust architecture is to assume that any door can be compromised. Usually restricted to infrastructure and virtual assets, the idea is moving towards human-based defense. So, one would think that no implicit trust exists in any user inside an organization because anyone is vulnerable.
That is an important statement, so let’s break it: anyone is vulnerable, which is different from “no one can be trusted.” Most of the cyberattacks that start with users (the majority of cyberattacks, never forget it) start with unaware users.
So, people can be trusted. But they need education and training to be better defenders of whatever crosses perimeter defenses. Cybersecurity first starts with cybersecurity awareness.
So, zero trust means everyone in the organization needs training, no matter how close to sensitive information they are. Sometimes, an attack starts with info gathered from a corporate ID from an assistant, moving up the chain, for example.
Cybersecurity awareness training must then be comprehensive, mobilize the entire organization and effectively assess the vulnerabilities that need remediation. That’s where technological barriers get even more effective: knowing where the organization lacks the most makes up for optimized budgets and more focused cybersecurity planning.
Here are some cases where cybersecurity awareness from the bottom up made a difference for organizations in different countries and industries.
Cybersecurity Awareness in a religious organization
This organization in Singapore wanted to find a way to protect itself from cyberattacks on different fronts, including phishing. They worked with us to develop a program to increase cybersecurity awareness across the board.
SaaS: Cybersecurity Awareness in a supply chain
If your SaaS platform serves over 15,000 educational institutions worldwide, there’s a more extensive compromise with cybersecurity that they can’t overlook. This organization invested in training, simulations, and compliance management for its entire workforce to become resilient and a more reliable partner to its clients.
Built-in Cybersecurity Awareness in everything
Cybersecurity First is a mentality that has to permeate also product development. That is especially true in software/app development, which are integral parts of supply chains, and may cause severe disruptions through ransomware attacks.
The discussions on secure software development are growing, mainly because they contrast business and security needs. However, more strict customer protection regulations and the looming threat of massive financial losses due to data breaches are driving the talk of cybersecurity awareness in agile processes.
The Cybersecurity First mindset in software development is therefore beneficial in:
- Ongoing compliance, cost avoidance in penalties/fines.
- Customer loyalty
- Compliance with more demanding industries
- Reduced business risk
As part of one of the Executive Cybersecurity Orders, the White House stated “security built from the ground up” in software as a mandatory path to secure the supply chain and, therefore, the entire critical infrastructure in the US.
Cybersecurity awareness then must consider that developers must know more than just the basics of cybersecurity and that infosec officers and analysts must work side by side in development to ensure product compliance without a negative impact on the process.
In the end, it’s about People.
Whether it’s about processes or individuals, people are at the center of Cybersecurity Awareness. That means expanding InfoSec beyond its realm and spreading it throughout the organization.
As sophisticated as technological barriers are, people are the last line of defense and where the most challenging battles happen. That’s why we are so invested in Cyber Culture. We believe in the idea of making Cybersecurity Awareness as natural and part of the work/life routine as writing an email or creating a spreadsheet.
So, organizations must consider security awareness to strengthen cyber defenses, gauge overall vulnerabilities, and drive more informed budget and strategy decisions. It’s a win-win scenario.
We know there is a lot to cover, and we are willing to take on your Cybersecurity Awareness challenges in October and beyond.
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Also, make sure you register for the Front Lines, our Cybersecurity Awareness Month event, where we bring 15 speakers from all over the world to address the most urgent topics of our industry.