How to Enforce Cybersecurity Guidelines in Business

By Zachary Amos, Features Editor at ReHack

Data breaches and malware installations can be costly, but how do businesses correctly enforce cybersecurity guidelines? While no single answer ensures complete compliance, there are methods that can encourage employees to follow them. 

Employee Preparation

A business can enforce its security procedures by helping employees understand their importance and making them easy to learn. Data compromises are costly and time-consuming to deal with — workers must understand how their online behavior has an impact. 

1. Outline Risks

Every employee must understand the risks they take if they fail to follow cybersecurity guidelines properly. Companies face average losses upwards of $7.5 million yearly if they’re negligent — data loss and potential related fines are expensive. They’ll recognize the importance of security measures when the risks of not complying with them are clear.

2. Use the Law to Your Advantage

Laws explicitly outline what rules companies can enforce, so they should use them to their advantage. For example, the GC Memo 18-04 protects employers prohibiting the disclosure of confidential information. Businesses can reinforce their guidelines with legal backing to emphasize the importance of following them.

3. Make Guidelines Clearer

Cybersecurity guidelines should be clear and straightforward since some employees need help understanding complex terms and phrases. Simple language and phrasing will let them follow along better.

4. Provide Relevant Information

Businesses should tailor their cybersecurity guidelines to fit specific roles to increase the chance workers will follow them. For example, accountants access different data and systems than a human resource manager, so they’ll need separate guidelines. Providing customized security measures will ensure employees use them more often.

5. Establish Consequences

Guidelines should outline the proper responses if employees fail to meet the minimum or expected safety standards. Some act carelessly after confirmed data breaches because they feel discouraged about their security measures. Clear, established consequences can prevent them from being negligent because they realize they’ll face repercussions. 

Efficiency Optimization

Once employees understand the guidelines and the risks of non-compliance, their employers should make them easier to remember and reference as necessary. Changing the presentation of materials or how workers access them will improve how well they follow the rules.

1. Encourage Employees

The more complex something is, the less likely people are to use it. Employers can encourage workers to obey guidelines by making them easy to access. For example, they could post them to a central page of their site or download them onto every company computer. Everyone can follow the guidelines closely when they’re easier to read and reference. 

2. Use Multimedia

A sheet of paper with a list of rules isn’t nearly as effective as an in-depth report utilizing video, gestures or audio. Multimedia and interactive materials enhance critical thinking skills and impact how likely employees are to pay attention. 

3. Don’t Allow Workarounds

Make security protocols a requirement. Two-factor authentication, for example, can ensure employees verify their identity before logging in or accessing sensitive information. While this extra step may take a bit more time, it ensures workers comply with guidelines. 

4. Test Compliance

Businesses should test employee compliance to see who’s following the guidelines to prevent breaches and related expenses. For example, they can send phishing emails and track who opens them or clicks on the links. Anyone who fails the tests can retrain on proper security protocols.

Cybersecurity Responses

Businesses can enforce cybersecurity guidelines even after data breaches occur. It may be most important to enforce employee compliance after they’ve made mistakes. 

1. Run Preventative Software

Over 422 million people were affected by data compromises in 2022. Mistakes happen even with proper training and engaged employees, so businesses must do their best to establish preventative security protocols. They can run detection software or programs that automatically update everyone’s company passwords.

It’s impossible to guarantee that breaches won’t happen, but going the extra mile protects companies against most cybersecurity mishaps. 

2. Regularly Retrain

Online safety constantly changes as technology adapts, so businesses should regularly retrain employees on proper cybersecurity measures. Attention is essential to their learning since it reinforces their memories. They’ll learn best when guidelines are integrated into their daily routine and the foundation of their work.

3. Investigate Non-Compliance

While retraining or preventing malware installations are valuable options, sometimes it’s necessary to look into employee negligence. Investigations can help employers figure out who made a mistake and how to prevent it from happening again. A swift response to non-compliance also reinforces how much security matters. 

4. Enforce Relevant Punishments

In cases of wrongdoing, employees should be reprimanded according to company guidelines — even if they’re high-ranking. Everyone must correctly follow security in a company because it’s a shared responsibility. It also reflects well on a business to stick to the rules without making exceptions because of seniority or salary. 

Enforcing Cybersecurity Guidelines in Business

A business should consider security guidelines as more than a list of rules employees must follow. Cybersecurity threats constantly evolve with time and technology, so keeping them relevant and updated is crucial.

As the Features Editor at ReHack, Zac Amos writes about cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and other tech topics. He is a frequent contributor to Brilliance Security Magazine.



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