In today’s increasingly connected business environment with companies operating collaboratively beyond boundaries and geographical borders, cyber security should be a top priority for every business.
Cyber Security is Evolving into an HR Concern
As cyber threats become more sophisticated, frequent and damaging if successful, companies of all sizes are growing increasingly at risk. Cyber threats exist in the hidden corners of the internet, occurring when we least expect them, causing – at times – irreparable financial and reputational damage to businesses that fail to safeguard consumer data. This isn’t even accounting for the potential regulatory and legislative fines they could be exposed to if they operate in certain industries.
Data breaches, ransomware attacks, phishing, SQL injections, the list goes on. The potential ways that businesses can be attacked and compromised grows with each passing day. Therefore, having robust cyber security measures in place is no longer optional – it’s a necessity.
Fortunately, HR leaders and professionals can be the instigators of impactful changes that keep data secure and breaches contained with proper incident response solutions. Getting your team properly trained and on board with maintaining strong cyber security is crucial for protecting your business and wider team, not to mention the customers and clients you serve.
However, it can sometimes be a challenge to get employees engaged with what may seem like dry, technical and convoluted topics.
5 Ways HR Leaders Can Create Cyber-Aware Teams
Luckily, with some careful planning and consideration, aligning your team with proper cyber security best practices (regardless of each employee’s level of technical proficiency) is easier than you might think.
Follow these five tips to get your staff motivated and vigilant when it comes to cyber risks:
1. Explain the Why
Start by clearly communicating why cyber security matters for your specific organisation. Explain the valuable assets you have to protect, whether it’s customer data, financial information, intellectual property, or anything in between.
Also, explain the concrete consequences that would occur if these assets were compromised. Knowing what’s at stake will make the risks feel real and pressing to your team.
2. Make it Relatable
Use examples of real cyber attacks that have affected similar companies to yours. Stories like these make the threat less abstract and more legitimate. Amplify this with training, simulations and exercises that reinforce the need for consistent awareness and commitment to upholding security.
Describe what a successful phishing scam, corrupted file or other attack would look like in your workplace. Maybe even go a step further and conduct a test to see how people respond in real time. Vividly illustrate how one employee’s mistake can put the entire company at risk.
3. Emphasise Shared Responsibility
Every employee should understand that cyber security is not just the responsibility of IT staff or web developers – it requires vigilance from everyone. Stress that the company’s data, systems and reputation are in all of their hands and one slip-up can have devastating consequences.
Rather than instil strategies and protocols through fear and putting additional pressure on employees, encourage them to report anything suspicious, as anomalies can often be spotted early enough to contain before they manifest into serious threats.
4. Gamify Learning
Inject a bit of light-hearted entertainment and friendly competition into cyber security training and exercises.
Friendly and incentivised team games and workplace contests can help reinforce important security concepts, and give recognition to those doing well. Align company cyber security training aims with team-building exercises to accomplish several HR goals at once, whilst providing vital employee stimulation and engagement.
5. Foster a Culture of Security
Beyond formal training, nurture an office culture where cyber security is top of mind.
Gently remind staff to use strong passwords, update their systems, watch for phishing attempts, validate requests for shared system access through multi-factor authentication (MFA) and, most importantly, speak up about potential issues. It’s better to raise concerns over a non-issue than to let a legitimate threat go undetected.
Make security an ongoing conversation, not just a one-off training course. Soon, safe online behaviour will become second nature.
Following tips like these can increase employees’ engagement with vital cyber security measures. With everyone informed and on board, your organisation will be far better equipped to handle whatever threats come your way.
Third-party cyber security services and solutions can provide additional layers of protection if your organisation is particularly prone, but in-house protection should be established as a baseline measure.