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Awareness campaign for all system users

I am responsible for deploying information security across our IT infrastructure. How do I explain the importance of security, especially in terms of social engineering, to users of the systems that aren't technical at all? I also need to launch an awareness campaign, and it would be great if you could help me with some ideas! Thank you.

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The importance of the security function should be mandated from top down (from Executive Management on down) through everyday practice with security policies, procedures and technical controls. You already know from being in the field, security is a hard sell. Users see our role as adversarial; management sees our role as a non-revenue generator. Truth is, the function is neither. Our mission within an organization is simply to protect the assets of the organization in the most appropriate method available. Regarding your question on launching a security awareness campaign: One of the biggest challenges you face is that you will be attempting to modify adult behavior, which elicits resistance. This, coupled with the subject matter, will present new and interesting challenges for you. Overall, the principles of developing a security awareness campaign are relatively simple:
[1] Base your program on your security policies, procedures and technical controls.
[2] Make the user awareness program personal, and develop it toward the user's ability level. I would recommend using a two-level approach: First, focus on acquainting the user community with the security function ("brand identification"). Even if the individuals do not have day-to-day contact with computing systems, they can be sensitized to the security function. Incorporate the program into the individual's daily routines by providing non-participatory, non-structured and non-threatening reminders. Try give-aways (pencils, pens, sticky notes, etc.), videos, newsletters, posters, security fairs. Employee security briefings also work well here. You will first need to develop a security user and security manager manual designed for your organization. The second phase should bring an understanding of security principles through active and structured participation in computer-based and instructor-led security training. Your objectives in this phase will be to promote an understanding of security principles and terminology, personal responsibility in security, positive behavioral change and consistency and accountability in security. If appropriate, you might want to enhance the program to include a phase for data owners and data guardians, to ensure they know and understand what they are responsible for and a phase for decentralized security personnel if they are used at your site. If you require ready-made posters, news bulletins, computer-based training programs, etc., there is an abundance of companies that specialize in security awareness programs.

This was first published in April 2001

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