Oman sets the bar on security awareness

Last week I was fortunate to have been presenting at a MIS Training CISO Executive Summit in Muscat. The Sultanate of Oman has long been my favourite business and holiday location. It’s also a place where managers understand the importance of the human factor in business and security.

In the past, the people perspective has been low on the management agenda of Western organisations. The only time an executive board pays attention to staff is when they need a headcount reduction. But the business world has changed. Networks are empowering people to unprecedented levels of influence. We need to educate and listen to employees, customers and citizens, because the focus of decision making has shifted from the corporate centre to the front-line workforce. Managers, staff and customers are the engine of intellectual property generation, as well as the thin red line that safeguards these assets.

This is why I was highly impressed with The Sultanate of Oman’s new information security awareness programme. It’s a government sponsored, nationwide initiative, and it’s tailored to the local culture. Madison Avenue executives might not be especially impressed with the simplicity of their images and messages. But they would be wrong. What counts for success is a good understanding, empathy and a resonance with the target audience.

From that perspective, Oman has set the bar for an initiative that other countries must also meet. There might be a wave of technology coming from the West. But there is also a wave of best practices in citizen education building from the East.