In today’s fast-paced digital world, information security is a critical concern for all organizations. Yet, too often, the policies designed to protect our information are filled with technical jargon that leaves many employees feeling confused and disconnected. It’s time for a change. By making information security policies more accessible and understandable, we can ensure that every employee understands and implements them effectively. Here’s how we can achieve this transformation.

A cartoon of a person holding a pen Description automatically generated

The Power of Plain Language

One of the most impactful changes we can make is to simplify the language used in our IT security policies. Instead of using complex technical terms, break down concepts into plain language everyone can understand. For example, instead of saying, “Authenticate using multifactor authentication,” say, “Use two forms of identification to log in.” This shift not only makes the policies more approachable but also reduces the risk of misinterpretation. The better people understand policies, the better they’ll comply with them.


  • Instead of “Ensure all endpoints comply with the organization’s patch management policy.” IT pros should say “Make sure your computer and devices are updated with the latest software.”
  • Instead of “Utilize encryption to secure sensitive data in transit.” IT pros should say “Protect your important data by using tools to scramble it when sending email over the internet.”

Understand the Value of Graphics

Visual aids can be incredibly effective in making information security policies more engaging and easier to understand. Flowcharts, infographics, and diagrams help illustrate processes and concepts that might otherwise be challenging to grasp through text alone. Many of us are visual learnings, understanding imagery better than text. For instance, a simple infographic showing the steps of a secure password creation process are often more impactful than a lengthy paragraph explaining the same thing.

Examples of Effective Graphics:

  • Flowcharts for incident response steps.
  • Infographics showing dos and don’ts of email security.
  • Diagrams illustrating how data encryption works.

Noone Likes When You Sound Like a Jerk

Adopting a friendly and inviting tone in our IT security policies will make a world of difference. When policies sound approachable, employees are much more likely to engage with them and take them seriously. Instead of coming across authoritarian or punitive, a friendly tone encourages cooperation and fosters a security-conscious culture.


  • Before: Employees must comply with the following security protocols.
  • After: Here are some simple steps you can follow to keep our information safe.
  • Before: Non-compliance with IT policies will result in disciplinary action.
  • After: Let’s work together to follow IT guidelines and keep our organization secure.

Use the Simple Phrase “What This Means to Me”

To translate policies into clear expectations for employee actions, answer the simple question: “What does this mean to me?” Provide practical examples of how the policies impact daily work and what specific actions employees need to take.


Policy: Use secure passwords.

  • Create a password that is at least 12 characters long and includes a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Change your password every three months.
  • Never share your password with anyone.

Daily Impact:

  • When logging into your computer or email, take an extra moment to ensure your password meets our security criteria.
  • Set reminders to update your passwords regularly.
  • Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords securely.

Why It Matters:

  • Not protecting your password makes our organization more vulnerable to unwanted access. Imagine if an unauthorized person gains access to our systems using a weak or shared password. They could steal employee and customer data, disrupt our operations, and even cause financial loss. Protecting your password is crucial in preventing breaches and ensuring the security of our systems and data.

The Role of Cybersecurity Micro-Campaigns

Frequent cybersecurity micro-campaigns can significantly increase awareness and security across the organization. By regularly sharing relevant and engaging content, we keep security top-of-mind for all employees.


Map out a set of regular blog posts from the CISO or the security team for the year. Cover topics high on the cybersecurity priority list. These posts might include:

  • Monthly Tips: Quick, actionable advice on how to stay secure, such as recognizing phishing emails or creating strong passwords.
  • Case Studies: Real-world examples of security breaches and lessons learned.
  • Security Alerts: Updates on the latest threats and how employees can protect themselves and the organization.
  • Interactive Quizzes: Fun, educational quizzes to test employees’ knowledge on various security topics.


  • Increased Engagement: Regular, bite-sized pieces of information are more likely to be read and remembered.
  • Continuous Learning: Employees are consistently exposed to new information and best practices.
  • Proactive Security Posture: Staying informed about the latest threats and how to counteract them helps maintain a robust security culture.

The Power of Calls to Action

Including specific calls to action in IT security communications can generate significant improvements in cybersecurity awareness and compliance. By asking employees to take small, manageable steps, we foster a culture of security first.


  • Send any phishing emails to a dedicated inbox: Encourage employees to report suspicious emails to a designated security team. This helps identify and mitigate phishing threats promptly.
  • Use a strong password: Remind employees to create and maintain strong passwords, emphasizing the importance of this simple action in safeguarding the organization’s data.


  • Phishing Email Reporting: By actively involving employees in identifying phishing attempts, the organization can react faster to potential threats, reducing the risk of successful attacks.
  • Strong Password Usage: Promoting the use of strong passwords significantly decreases the likelihood of unauthorized access, protecting sensitive systems and data.

Investing in Personal Cybersecurity Practices

Organizations should invest in helping employees improve their cybersecurity practices not only at work but also in their day-to-day personal activities. This holistic approach to cybersecurity education benefits both the organization and its employees.

Why This Matters:

  • Holistic Security Awareness: When employees understand and practice good cybersecurity habits in their personal lives, they are more likely to apply these habits at work. This creates a security-conscious culture that extends beyond the workplace.
  • Reduced Risk of Breaches: Educating employees about phishing, password management, and secure browsing at home reduces the overall risk of breaches, as employees are less likely to fall for scams or make security mistakes.
  • Employee Well-being: Protecting employees’ personal information demonstrates that the organization values their well-being, fostering loyalty and trust.

Examples of Support:

  • Workshops and Training: Offer regular workshops and training sessions on personal cybersecurity best practices, such as protecting personal devices, using strong passwords, and recognizing phishing attempts.
  • Resources and Guides: Provide employees with easy-to-understand resources and guides on maintaining cybersecurity at home, including tips on safe online shopping and social media use.
  • Personal Security Tools: Encourage the use of personal security tools, such as password managers and antivirus software, by offering discounted or free access to these tools.


  • Adoption of Good Practices: Employees who feel supported in their personal cybersecurity efforts are more likely to adopt and maintain good security practices, both at home and at work.
  • Strengthened Organizational Security: A workforce that is knowledgeable about cybersecurity contributes to a stronger overall security posture for the organization, as they bring secure habits into their professional environment.

Emphasizing Overcoming Cyber Threats with Teamwork

Organizational messaging should emphasize that while cyber threats pose a clear and present danger, they are simply a challenge to overcome. With focus, determination, and teamwork, cyber attackers can be consistently defeated. This positive, empowering message can motivate employees to stay vigilant and proactive.

Key Messages:

  • Unified Effort: “Together, we can protect our organization from cyber threats. Each small action you take contributes to our overall security.”
  • Resilience: “Cyber threats are a challenge, but with our collective effort, we can and will overcome them.”
  • Continuous Improvement: “Every step we take towards better cybersecurity practices strengthens our defense against potential attacks.”

Examples of Messaging:

  • Email Campaigns: Regular emails highlighting success stories where teamwork thwarted a potential cyber threat.
  • Team Meetings: Incorporating cybersecurity updates and celebrating small wins in team meetings to keep everyone motivated and informed.
  • Intranet Updates: Posting frequent updates on the intranet about new threats, how they were managed, and what employees can do to help.


  • Increased Vigilance: When employees see cybersecurity as a shared responsibility and a manageable challenge, they are more likely to remain vigilant and proactive.
  • Enhanced Morale: Positive and empowering messages boost morale, making employees feel part of a unified effort against cyber threats.
  • Stronger Security Culture: A culture that views cybersecurity as a team effort fosters collaboration and continuous improvement, leading to a more resilient organization.

By simplifying language, incorporating visuals, adopting a friendly tone, clearly translating policies into actionable steps, investing in personal cybersecurity practices, and emphasizing the collective effort to overcome cyber threats, we make IT security policies more accessible and understandable for all employees. Regular cybersecurity micro-campaigns and specific calls to action further enhance awareness and engagement, ensuring that security remains a priority for everyone. Following this comprehensive approach not only enhances compliance but also empowers employees to take an active role in protecting the organization’s IT assets. Remember, when everyone understands their part in IT security and applies good practices in all aspects of their lives, we create a stronger, more secure environment for our organization to thrive.