22
Wed, May
2 New Articles

Building the human firewall: Navigating behavioral change in security awareness and culture

Security News
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

The latest findings of the IBM X-Force® Threat Intelligence Index report highlight a shift in the tactics of attackers. Rather than using traditional hacking methods, there has been a significant 71% surge in attacks where criminals are exploiting valid credentials to infiltrate systems. Info stealers have seen a staggering 266% increase in their utilization, emphasizing their role in acquiring these credentials. Their objective is straightforward: exploit the path of least resistance, often through unsuspecting employees, to obtain valid credentials.

By Ailsa Davidson & Oliver Silver

Organizations have spent millions developing and implementing cutting-edge technologies to bolster their defenses against such threats, and many already have security awareness campaigns, so why are we failing to stop these attacks?

Challenges of traditional security awareness programs

Most security awareness programs today provide employees with information they need about handling data, GDPR rules and common threats, such as phishing.

However, there is one major weakness with this approach: the programs don’t consider human behavior. They typically follow a one-size-fits-all approach, with employees completing annual generic computer-based training with some slick animation and a short quiz.

While this provides necessary information, the rushed nature of the training and lack of personal relevance often results in employees forgetting the information within just 4-6 months. This can be explained by Daniel Kahneman’s theory on human cognition. According to the theory, every individual has a fast, automatic, and intuitive thought process, called System 1. People also have a slow, deliberate and analytical thought process, called System 2.

Traditional security awareness programs primarily target System 2, as the information needs to be rationally processed. However, without sufficient motivation, repetition and personal significance, the information usually goes in one ear and out the other.

It is crucial to understand employees’ behaviors

Nearly 95% of human thinking and decision making is controlled by System 1, which is our habitual way of thinking. Humans are faced with thousands of tasks and stimuli per day, and a lot of our processing is done automatically and unconsciously through biases and heuristics. The average employee works on autopilot, and to ensure that cybersecurity issues and risks are ingrained in their day-to-day decisions, we need to design and build programs that truly understand their intuitive way of working.

To understand human behavior and how to change it, there are a few factors we must assess and measure, supported by the COM-B Behavior Change Wheel.

  • First, we need to know employees’ capabilities. This refers to their knowledge and skills to engage in safe online practices, such as creating strong passwords and recognizing phishing attempts.
  • Then, we need to identify whether there are sufficient opportunities for them to learn, including the availability of resources such as training programs, policies and procedures.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, we need to understand the level of employee motivation and their willingness and drive to prioritize and adopt secure behaviors.

Once we understand and evaluate these three areas, we can pinpoint areas for behavioral change and design interventions that target employees’ intuitive behaviors. Ultimately, this approach aids organizations in fostering a first line of defense through the development of a more cyber aware workforce. 

We need to foster a positive cybersecurity culture

Once the root causes of behavioral issues are identified, attention naturally shifts toward building a security culture. The prevailing challenge in cybersecurity culture today is its foundation in fear of error and wrongdoing. This mindset often fosters a negative perception of cybersecurity, resulting in low completion rates for training and minimal accountability. This approach requires a shift, but how do we accomplish it?

First and foremost, we must reconsider our approach to initiatives, moving away from a solely awareness-focused, compliance-driven model. While security awareness training remains vital and should not be overlooked, we must diversify our educational methods to foster a more positive culture. Alongside broad organizational training, we should embrace role-specific programs that incorporate experiential learning and gamification, such as the engaging cyber ranges facilitated by IBM X-Force. Furthermore, organization-wide campaigns can reinforce the notion of a positive culture, involving activities like establishing a network of cybersecurity champions or hosting awareness months with diverse events.

Once these initiatives are selected and implemented to cultivate a positive and robust cybersecurity culture, it’s imperative that they receive support from all levels of the organization, from senior leadership to entry-level professionals. Only when there is a unified, affirmative message, can we truly transform the culture within organizations.

If we don’t measure human risk reduction, we don’t know what works

Now that we’ve identified the behavioral challenges and implemented a program aimed at fostering a positive culture, the next step is to establish metrics and parameters for success. To gauge the effectiveness of our program, we must address a fundamental question: to what extent have we mitigated the risk of a cybersecurity incident stemming from human error? It’s crucial to establish a comprehensive set of metrics capable of measuring risk reduction and overall program success.

Traditionally, organizations have relied on methods such as phishing campaigns and proficiency tests, with mixed results. One modern approach is risk quantification, a method that assigns a financial value to the human risk associated with a specific scenario. Integrating such metrics into our security culture program enables us to assess its success and continuously enhance it over time.

Collaborate with IBM and build the human firewall

The shifting landscape of cybersecurity demands a comprehensive approach that addresses the critical human factor. Organizations need to cultivate a positive cybersecurity culture supported by leadership engagement and innovative initiatives. This needs to be coupled with effective metrics to measure progress and demonstrate the value.

IBM offers a range of services to help our clients pivot their programs from awareness to focus on human behavior. We can help you assess and tailor your organization’s interventions to your employees’ motivations and habits, and help you foster a resilient first line of defense against emerging threats by empowering every individual to be a proactive guardian of cybersecurity.

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider, helping clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM's hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently, and securely. IBM's breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM's legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity, and service.

For more information, visit: www.ibm.com.

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

LATEST COMMENTS

Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:
$

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: