Your organization’s people are your first line of defense against cyber criminals. Unfortunately, they’re also your weakest link. Insiders pose the biggest threat to cyber security in the healthcare industry, and only 13% of public sector employees “take personal responsibility for cyber security.” Here are 10 proactive ways to improve employee cyber security compliance.

Employee Cyber Security Training Should be Mandatory & Continuous

The cyber threat environment is constantly changing, so employee cyber security training is not “one and done.” It is a continuous process that should begin during the onboarding process and continue throughout the employee’s tenure.

Employee Cyber Security Training Is About More than Compliance

Many healthcare organizations make the mistake of focusing employee cyber security training exclusively on HIPAA compliance, and organizations in other industries can fall into similar traps. While compliance is important, it does not automatically equate to cyber security.

Keep Employee Cyber Security Rules & Procedures Simple

Often, employee cyber security manuals are written by the IT department or security personnel, who may fill them with so much “tech-speak” that they require a degree in computer science to decipher. Make sure that your rules and procedures are written in plain language that non-IT employees can easily understand.

Everyone Needs to be Trained

Cyber security is everyone’s responsibility. This includes all levels of employees, from the C-suite down to the receptionist. Don’t forget about part-time employees, seasonal workers and other temps, even interns. Everyone in your organization who has access to a computer must be trained on cyber security best practices.

Have Clear Cyber Threat Reporting Procedures

If one of your employees receives a suspicious email or finds a flash drive on the floor, who should they report the incident to, and how? Make sure your employees know exactly what to do next.

Tie Workplace Cyber Security to Personal Cyber Security

Illustrating why cyber security hygiene is important both in and outside the office is a great way to reinforce training lessons and bolster employee buy-in. Use real-world examples that employees can relate to, such as phishing scams that seek to steal personal account credentials.

Employ User Behavior Analytics & Continuous Monitoring

User behavior analytics, paired with continuous monitoring of network activity, protect your organization on two fronts. First, they allow you to identify employees who are snooping around in areas of your system they don’t need to access to do their jobs. Second, they allow you to identify stolen credentials by flagging logins at odd hours and/or from unusual locations. In either case, you can set up the system to temporarily suspend access until you determine what’s going on.

Regularly Review Employee System Access

The best way to ensure that employees don’t misuse their credentials is to prevent them from doing so in the first place. Employees should be given the minimum amount of system access to perform their jobs, and no more. Access levels should be regularly reviewed for appropriateness.

Don’t Flog Employees for Making Mistakes

Even the most diligent employee can make a mistake. If employees fear being fired for inadvertently clicking on a phishing link, not only will they not report the incident; they may try to cover it up, which could make things even worse. Encourage employees to report missteps as soon as possible, and ensure them that they won’t be disciplined for doing so.

Reward Employees for Good Cyber Behavior

In addition to not beating your employees with sticks, offer some carrots. Recognize employees who flag phishing schemes and other attempted cyber attacks.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Peters is the CEO of Lazarus Alliance, Inc., the Proactive Cyber Security™ firm, and Continuum GRC. He has served as an independent information security consultant, executive, researcher, and author. He is an internationally recognized and awarded security expert with years of IT and business leadership experience and many previous executive leadership positions.

He has contributed significantly to curriculum development for graduate degree programs in information security, advanced technology, cyberspace law, and privacy, and to industry standard professional certifications. He has been featured in many publications and broadcast media outlets as the “Go-to Guy” for executive leadership, information security, cyberspace law, and governance.