Why Do So Many Cybersecurity Programs Fail?

Most companies fail at cybersecurity. And not for lack of trying, either. Decision-makers understand the importance of taking steps to protect their data.

They know their threat surface is growing larger, and hackers are getting more numerous and more sophisticated. They understand that there are risks associated with file sharing, mobile technology, and the Internet of Things. But when it comes to actually addressing all these issues?

They fall woefully short.

I believe the problem lies in the fact that many businesses don’t realize that cybersecurity is no longer solely the domain of the IT department. It’s as much a social and cultural challenge as it is a technical one.

To that end, if you want your cybersecurity program to succeed – if you want to protect your data – you need to focus on the following cornerstones.


There’s a big knowledge gap between IT and end users in terms of how systems and processes work. That’s obvious. What’s less obvious is how to bridge that gap – and that leads to some big problems where compliance is concerned.

Too many businesses establish cybersecurity training programs that simply consist of vomiting information at their staff. Condescending training videos, overly-complex cybersecurity documents, and mandatory training that puts everyone to sleep. These look good on paper – they look like you’re doing a good job of educating your staff.

But you aren’t.

Instead of simply forcing details down everyone’s throats, make your training program into a game. Share stories of successful data breaches, and run simulations that actually engage people in a meaningful way. The first step to better security is making people excited about their training.


Are you communicating with your staff about your security policies? Are you being completely transparent with the reasons behind your cybersecurity decisions and initiatives? Do you keep people informed about vulnerabilities and cyber incidents?

More importantly, are there open lines of communication between decision-makers and regular staff? Does your IT department understand the needs of their users, and are they doing everything in their power to meet said needs? If users don’t have opportunities to make their voices heard, that’ll foster a great deal of resentment, which can lead to either unapproved workarounds or insider attacks.


So far, we’ve talked about communication and engagement. The last pillar is closely related to those two. What are you doing to keep your staff loyal – and what are you doing to make them care about cybersecurity?

Do you offer them opportunities for advancement through your security program? Do you take steps to recognize people who go above and beyond to protect your business? More importantly, what sort of company culture do you promote?

  • Do you emphasize health and wellness?
  • Do you promote collaboration and cooperation over competition?
  • Do you actively work to ensure everyone is satisfied with their job?
  • Do you recognize high-performers in a meaningful way?
  • Do you help employees find meaning in what they do?
  • Do you encourage positivity amongst both management and staff?

Ultimately, Cybersecurity Is All About Your Employees

People are both the weakest link and the most important component in your business’s security posture. Understanding that is the first step towards addressing it. Strong security controls and decent infrastructure are important, sure – but unless you focus on your people as well, you cannot adequately protect your business.


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