Historically, cybersecurity has been the purview of the IT departments, but organizations now realize that it’s a collective responsibility. Every single component of your organization, whether it’s the technology, security measures, or employees, play a role in mitigating cyber risks.
IT is critical in cybersecurity, but so is Human Resources as it deals with the employees. Your employees are essential in tackling cyber risks, but they can also be the source of the risk. This means that your employees can be an asset or a risk.
What Is Risk Mitigation?
Risk management typically involves four options; you can avoid it, mitigate it, transfer it, or accept it. Risk mitigation seeks to lessen the effects of a risk if it occurs. Most companies would choose to avoid risk, but when dealing with cybersecurity, there is always a degree of risk. This is why companies have risk mitigation strategies in place to handle cybersecurity risks without their systems crashing or going out of business.
How Can Human Resources Mitigate Risks?
Attackers often use employees as a gateway into companies as they’re the weakest link to any security system. However, you can turn your employees into assets by:
Risk Management Policies
Cybercriminals are calculating; they can take months and even years trying to find a way in. Employees are an easy access point as they can be manipulated, coerced, paid, knowingly, or unknowingly grant access.
The HR department understands your employees better than anyone else. They know which employees pose a risk to the security and which security measures are easy to adhere to. HR can identify the employees that pose a threat to the company, especially if they’ve been demoted, fired, transferred, or passed on during promotions.
The HR department can propose policies that seek to manage the risk posed by employees. For example, you can restrict access to sensitive information, implement policies that limit the use of personal devices at work, revoke access for terminated employees, etc. Human resources can also propose disciplinary action for any employee that doesn’t comply with the set guidelines.
Build Up Security
Employees are a weak link that cybercriminals tend to use to their advantage. The HR team should have measures in place to detect these vulnerabilities and intervene before they’re exploited. Some HR teams have been known to set up drills such as sending fake emails to their employees. These emails seek to obtain personal or company information from the employees. The HR teams then use the responses to train and educate their employees on how to handle such situations.
Others go as far as tracking online activity to see if the employees pose a threat to the security system. This approach can help, but the department should have guidelines to differentiate between personal and professional lives.
Re-evaluate your recruitment process and target cybersecurity professionals who can evolve at the same rate as the cybersecurity risks. The HR team needs to anticipate the cybersecurity needs of the company and hire professionals with these skills.
For example, companies are embracing ethical hackers to evaluate their security systems for vulnerabilities. These professionals are allowed to hack into the company with supervision and will identify your vulnerabilities. The HR team can decide how they operate, communication protocols, terms of engagement, etc.
Empower The Employees
The HR team can advocate for mandatory compliance training for your employees. Educate them on the benefits of compliance and the security measures you’ve put in place. Equip your employees with the necessary tools to detect anomalies in the systems. Teach the employees how to identify, detect, report, and monitor cyber threats. Regularly update your employees on the current cyber threats and how they’re executed. This means scheduling regular security briefings that teach your employees how to detect these cyber threats.
Test Your Systems
Frequently test how good your security systems and measures are against cyber threats. For instance, you can mimic an attack and watch how your employees respond to the attack. Having security measures in place is great, but they need humans to implement them. A test would help you understand whether you’re equipped to handle similar or far greater threats.
Once the test is complete, you can notify your employees of how they fared. Ask them what went wrong and what needs to be improved. Using the information gathered, implement better measures that improve your response time.
The HR department is best suited to enforcing policies and measures that seek to protect the company. It’s their duty to ease the employee’s attitude towards the policies and ensure that they comply. Cybersecurity is a collective responsibility, and HR can help facilitate cooperation between all components of the company.