What Role Can HR Play in Combating Cyber Threats?

With the ever-increasing rampancy of cyber threats and vulnerabilities, perhaps the most fatal mistake that organizations can make is to treat cybersecurity as just another “IT expense.” Quite on the contrary to what enterprise owners might want to believe, fostering cybersecurity helps strengthen the entire company, rather than just securing the organization digitally.

Combating Cyber Threats

Although the traditional perspective of viewing cybersecurity as a task exclusive to the IT department is undergoing a slow, but steady change, there is still a dire need for revolutionizing the attitudes that individuals, particularly employees, have towards their organization’s cybersecurity and privacy in general.

As the present-day threat landscape continues to evolve, with cybercrimes and breaches increasing in sophistication, organizations need to come up with a more collaborative effort to promote the principles of cybersecurity. As an increasing number of enterprises come to terms with the significance of cybersecurity amidst the modern-day threat landscape; an organization’s HR department can play a critical role in keeping security obstacles at bay. Moreover, HR professionals can also ensure that the organization’s workforce is fully equipped with the skills necessary to ward off security vulnerabilities, and further cybersecurity initiatives.

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Typically, most companies tend to assign specific chief information security officer (CISO) for the tedious task of overseeing all cybersecurity initiatives, while only the smallest number of companies rely on their HR department. Although the CISO is also a key component in propagating the notion of security within a company when it’s efforts are combined with the HR department, it results in the overall tightening of security and aids in the implementation of security and compliance measures under the recent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Why Should Cybersecurity Be Considered As a Priority to HR?

To some of our more cynical readers, even the mere concept of the HR department fiddling with cybersecurity matters might seem redundant, considering the presence of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Although, there are several examples of companies doing well enough, with just a CISO to overlook their security practices, the rampant nature of the modern-day threat landscape implies that the notion of cybersecurity has made the shift from the tech silos to the business frontlines.

Taking into account the fact that despite the pressing nature of the threats facing companies today, most of them still want to uphold the business functions of their organizations, without having to compromise on their cybersecurity infrastructure.

When it comes to perfecting the balance act between cybersecurity and upholding the business value within an organization, the HR department stands at the forefront of being the key enabler for this purpose. Additionally, HR professionals can also act as the guidance that the rest of the organization can follow in the footsteps of, and subsequently foster a robust cybersecurity culture.

In an attempt to further elaborate the potential that HR has in combating cyber threats and vulnerabilities, we’ve listed some ways through which HR can aid in mitigating threats and promoting a secure culture within the organization.

#1- Highlighting Employees With Poor Security Habits:

Perhaps the most significant step that an organization’s HR staff can take, to strengthen their defenses against the dangers lurking in today’s threat landscape is simply, to identify the weak links within their organizations. Contrary to popular belief, however, the most dangerous loopholes in a company’s security infrastructure are its employees.

While formulating a cybersecurity strategy to implement, the HR department needs to utilize the resources at its disposal, so that the employees with bad security habits can be identified. In highlighting the employees, security can easily deflect identity theft and data breaches, that not only negatively impact a company’s reputation, but also result in huge financial losses.

An organization’s HR team can ease this security challenge by recognizing the individuals that pose the greatest risk to the organization and aiding them in remedying their faulty security habits.

#2- Investigating Any Potential Cyber Attacks:

When we take into consideration the fact that a staggering sixty percent of all cyberattacks either come directly from my third-parties with malicious intent, or from a mishap involving an insider- the dire need for a better investigation of threats that might result in full-fledged cyber attacks.

Although the statistic that we’ve mentioned above paints a rather bleak picture of the security measures of an organization, basically implying that no employee can be trusted completely. To some of our more cynical readers, this might ring true, but for organizations that aim to implement security, this provides an opportunity to investigate into vulnerable employees.

By conducting investigations into employees that seem prone to risks, or just downright shady in their security practices, the HR department can ward off breaches by scrutinizing, and consequently, remedying triggers.

#3- Promoting Collaborative Efforts With the IT Teams:

As we’ve already mentioned in our introduction above, it is high time that organizations start viewing cybersecurity as a company-wide responsibility, rather than a concept understood and worked on exclusively by the IT department.

When it comes to promoting a robust ‘cybersecurity culture’ within an organization, it is the HR department’s responsibility to ensure that the inter-departmental communication taking place between contributes towards the collaborative management of cyber-related concerns.

One of the most significant steps that the HR department can take to foster a collaborative effort towards cybersecurity, is to formulate an organizational framework that brings together various departments and aspects of security together. Typically, the facets of cybersecurity that the framework covers include technology, policies, and procedures, and ensures that everyone understands and fulfills their security role within the organization.

#4- Ensuring that Cybersecurity-Conscious Employees are Hired:

Since the commonly-held (read: uninformed) conception about the HR staff, is that they’re responsible for hiring employees, it is equally significant that the HR department places a special emphasis on cybersecurity, while hiring individuals into an organization.

While recruiting candidates to fill out a position in the company, amidst the backdrop of an ever-evolving threat landscape, the HR staff now has to carry out the tricky task of hiring security-conscious individuals, that are also in tandem with the organizational culture.

While hiring individuals, it is also crucial that the HR department is well-versed in the basics of cybersecurity, and has the ability to understand intimately, the different roles that the company seeks to have fulfilled.

#5- Formulating and Implementing the “Right” Security Policies:

Last, but certainly not least, an organization’s HR professionals should also seek to formulate and implement the “right” policies and procedures. In order to drive cybersecurity initiatives within the company, the HR staff relies heavily on policies, which is why a lot of thought and speculation should be put into their creation.

Furthermore, it should be ensured that the policies make sense within the specific context of the organization, along with outlining access rights, control policies- all of which should be reviewed and scrutinized on a daily basis. Additionally, the HR department also needs to account for the compliance regulations, that need to be met by the security policies and procedures.

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At the end of the article, we hope that our readers realize the significance of the HR department in promoting cybersecurity within an organization. Moreover, we hope that our article gets the common layman to change their perspective on cybersecurity implementation and that they start thinking about it as a collaborative effort, rather than just being limited to the IT department.

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