How to get your employees to adopt security best practices

How to get your employees to adopt security best practices

Strong security is made up of people, processes, and technology. Even with the best protocols and technologies, your company needs buy-in from employees if it wants to avoid unnecessary security risks. 

No matter how big or small your company, one thing never changes—every employee is responsible for security. As your business scales and grows, adopting security best practices becomes more critical and more challenging. 

So how do you get employees to cooperate with your company’s security practices? Although every company's culture and capabilities are different, the below methods will set you on the right path toward better security. 

Teach employees what good security looks like

Setting the goal post for your employee expectations should be your first priority. You shouldn’t assume all of your company’s employees are security experts. Security best practices such as multi-factor authentication, password management, and updating applications may sound simple, but they won’t work if employees aren’t properly trained.

Perhaps more important than the “what” and the “how” is the “why.” It’s simply human nature to want to know that our efforts aren’t in vain and that the tiny hassles are part of the greater good. Being transparent about your company’s security makes it personal and reminds each team member that they really do make a difference. 

Assign trusted security leaders or champions 

Access to sensitive information and tools should be granted to as few employees as possible. This is because high-privilege users likely pose the greatest internal risk to your company. Managers, team leaders, and executives are the minority in most organizations, but 50% of the time they’re the vector for security breaches.

Outside of holding the keys to your company, security champions serve as community leaders. They set the bar and help create a culture of security awareness. They also take the lead when it comes time to recalibrate or update security protocols as your company scales. Security leaders can also grant access as needed, answer questions, and field feedback from employees. 

Use up-to-date tools and communication styles 

Don’t underestimate the power of convenience. Barriers and friction points prevent employees from adopting security best practices. Signing into multiple apps with different passwords is a classic example.

If your systems are outdated or too complicated, employees will find workarounds or simply ignore security obligations. Making security a low-lift responsibility will garner more adoption (and appreciation) than you might expect. This philosophy can also be applied to the way your company disseminates security announcements, updates, or training materials. 

Sending important security materials buried in spreadsheets is no longer the most effective method. Need to send an important security update? Try a short video clip. Do employees need SSO training? Try a webcast and record it for anyone not present. Multimedia options are a sure way to get your message heard.

Create opportunities for feedback, participation, and interaction

As your company grows, communication will be a key factor, especially when it comes to security and compliance risk management. What works well for 50 employees will need to change at 200. 

Periods of change require quick, accurate adjustments. This means your employees must take a more active role in making sure your company is secure. One strategy to accomplish this is to create a place for employees to report bugs, flag security risks, and offer feedback. Providing a space for employees to connect with leaders and bring friction points to the fore is well worth the investment. 

Learn more about security best practices and compliance 

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PCI Compliance Selection Guide

Determine Your PCI Compliance Level

If your organization processes, stores, or transmits cardholder data, you must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a global mandate created by major credit card companies. Compliance is mandatory for any business that accepts credit card payments.

When establishing strategies for implementing and maintaining PCI compliance, your organization needs to understand what constitutes a Merchant or Service Provider, and whether a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) or Report on Compliance (ROC) is most applicable to your business.

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Identify your PCI SAQ or ROC level

The PCI Security Standards Council has established the below criteria for Merchant and Service Provider validation. Use these descriptions to help determine the SAQ or ROC that best applies to your organization.

Good news! Vanta supports all of the following compliance levels:


A SAQ A is required for Merchants that do not require the physical presence of a credit card (like an eCommerce, mail, or telephone purchase). This means that the Merchant’s business has fully outsourced all cardholder data processing to PCI DSS compliant third party Service Providers, with no electronic storage, processing, or transmission of any cardholder data on the Merchant’s system or premises.

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A SAQ A-EP is similar to a SAQ A, but is a requirement for Merchants that don't receive cardholder data, but control how cardholder data is redirected to a PCI DSS validated third-party payment processor.

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A SAQ D includes over 200 requirements and covers the entirety of PCI DSS compliance. If you are a Service Provider, a SAQ D is the only SAQ you’re eligible to complete.

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A Report on Compliance (ROC) is an annual assessment that determines your organization’s ability to protect cardholder data. If you’re a Merchant that processes over six million transactions annually or a Service Provider that processes more than 300,000 transactions annually, your organization is responsible for both a ROC and an Attestation of Compliance (AOC).

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Learn more about how Vanta can help. You can also find information on PCI compliance levels at the PCI Security Standards Council website or by contacting your payment processing partner.

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