The Current Intersection of Universal Design and Cybersecurity and Why It Must Expand

Many businesses develop cybersecurity programs without considering universal design. This results in programs that fail to meet the needs of the entire workforce. Even worse, inaccessible cybersecurity programs can force workers to miss out on important security tips and insights. This can lead to data breaches that damage a company’s brand reputation and bottom line. 

A clear understanding of the relationship between cybersecurity and universal design is a must, especially as more industries become common targets for cyberattack. Cybersecurity professionals can apply universal design best practices in their everyday work. In doing so, they can develop and maintain best-in-class cybersecurity programs.

What Is Universal Design, and How Does It Relate to Cybersecurity?

Universal design is a concept relating to the development and composition of an environment. Businesses can use universal design principles to make an environment accessible to all people, regardless of disability, age, or other factors.

There are seven principles of universal design:

  • Equitable use. A design should be set up in a way that it’s useful to people with a wide range of abilities.
  • Flexibility in use. A design should accommodate people based on their unique preferences and abilities.
  • Simple and intuitive. An individual should be able to easily understand a design, regardless of their knowledge, language, or skills.
  • Perceptible information. A design should clearly communicate information to an individual.
  • Tolerance for error. There should be no hazards or adverse consequences if an individual interacts with a design.
  • Low physical effort. An individual should be able to safely and comfortably access a design.
  • Size and space for approach and use. A design should allow an individual to easily approach, reach, and use it.

Thanks to universal design, a business can create a cybersecurity program that prioritizes the user experience (UX). The program can include educational materials designed for all types of learners. That way, workers can join the program and get the insights they need to protect against cyberattacks. Plus, they can help a business optimize its security posture.

Why Should Cybersecurity Professionals Prioritize Universal Design?

Universal design can have far-flung effects on cybersecurity professionals. Key reasons why these pros are applying universal design principles to their cybersecurity programs include:

1. Cybersecurity Talent Shortage

There is a critical shortage of cybersecurity talent globally. Businesses are searching far and wide for cybersecurity professionals. However, the demand for cybersecurity pros exceeds the talent available. This is making it exceedingly difficult for companies to develop and manage top-notch cybersecurity programs.

With universal design, cybersecurity professionals can empower a workforce like never before. They can develop cybersecurity program training materials that meet the needs of workers of all skill and experience levels. These materials ensure workers can learn cybersecurity best practices and use them every day.

Universal design enables businesses to create cybersecurity programs that deliver long-lasting results. Cybersecurity pros can evaluate these programs regularly and collect feedback from workers. They can then use worker insights to ensure cybersecurity programs are universally accessible. 

2. Remote Workforce Security

The remote workforce is growing and looks poised to continue to do so in the years to come. Meanwhile, businesses must provide their remote workers with cybersecurity tools and resources. Otherwise, they risk exposing remote workers to cyberattacks and data breaches.

Universal design principles can be applied to remote workforce security. Cybersecurity professionals can provide remote workers with everything they need to secure their applications, data, and devices. This promotes accessible equity for all employees and can help a company establish a positive remote work culture.

3. Support for Workers Dealing with Disabilities

Employees dealing with disabilities may require certain accommodations so they can complete work tasks. Yet cybersecurity can be an afterthought for these workers. This is due to the fact that businesses may develop cybersecurity training programs without considering the needs of employees coping with disabilities.

By prioritizing universal design, cybersecurity professionals can develop training programs designed for workers dealing with disabilities. For instance, a business can analyze how a worker’s vision impacts their ability to access cybersecurity program training materials. The business can next create materials to teach blind or visually impaired employees cybersecurity basics. As a result, these workers can learn about cybersecurity and are well-equipped to help a company minimize cyber risk. Also, they may have greater access to materials so they can become cybersecurity experts and pursue careers in cybersecurity.

How to Incorporate Universal Design Principles into a Cybersecurity Program

Create a cybersecurity program or revamp an existing one using universal design principles. Consider the principles carefully and how they can be incorporated into the program.

It often helps to consider the workforce that will be using a cybersecurity program. Next, cybersecurity professionals can tailor the program to the needs of all workers.

Work in lockstep with employees as a cybersecurity program is developed. Communicate and collaborate with workers and find out what can be done to ensure the program aligns with their expectations.

Find out what cybersecurity experts are saying and doing relative to universal design. This can help cybersecurity pros develop fully accessible training programs. It may even lead these pros to create programs that lead to rewarding careers in cybersecurity.

For example, Vandana Verma recently conducted an interview in which she described how her initiative InfoSec Girls is promoting the careers of women in cybersecurity. Verma discusses diversity in cybersecurity in depth, and her insights may help cybersecurity pros understand how to make their training programs diverse and inclusive.

Lastly, remain persistent with universal design in cybersecurity. Do not expect instant success. Rather, continue to look for ways to make cybersecurity training materials universally accessible. With this approach, cybersecurity pros can develop training programs that consistently hit the mark.

The Bottom Line on Universal Design and Cybersecurity

Start integrating universal design principles into a cybersecurity program today. From here, a business can create a first-rate cybersecurity program that benefits all of its workers.

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Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and digital marketing topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or getting into the latest tech.

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