Whilst computing technology has made our lives exponentially trouble-free, it also has paved way for a plethora of threats in terms of data theft, security breach and hacking. Cyber security violations are destructive and can incur huge loss for a business be it small or big. The most disturbing fact here is that nearly 50% of the employees (the ones being laid-off or fired) tend to steal confidential corporate data after quitting. Also, careless blunders from employees attribute to a huge chunk of cyber security breaches at workplaces. Thus, businesses ought to be vigilant of not only the external cyber threats, but also from the potential breaches that can occur within the organisation from its own staff.
The Role of HR:
Given the fact that a company’s own staff manoeuvres a majority of cyber-attacks, human resources department along with the IT team can play a pivotal role in combating the fight against possible cyber security threats. This is the reason why IT and HR need to team up. This is particularly true since the data that human resources personnel deal with is highly prone to security attacks. HR database often entails highly confidential and sensitive information such as bank details, birth dates, contact details, PAN number, addresses, to name a few. This is the reason why HR folks need to have a thorough understanding of how to safeguard such data from potential hackers and security attacks.
Prior to devising a preventative strategy, it is imperative for the human resources professionals to identify potential cyber threats. A huge number of businesses today have advanced software solutions to curb the risks of external cyber-attacks such as virus or malware. Phishing is one such example of external cyber threat where the impersonator tricks employees to furnish critical information, often via e-mail. Hackers are even reported to imitate work emails from an apparently trustworthy source, which the employees open when at work. These e-mails can contain malicious virus or malware that the hackers can anonymously use for accessing sensitive data of the organisation.
Besides phishing, other commonly reported threats involve careless blunders from employees like losing or emailing critical data to anonymous sources/recipients, logging from an insecure internet protocol network when out of the workplace and conscious malicious cyber-attacks from former employees or current ones.
Preventive Measures for HR to deal with Cyber Threats
Yes, as mentioned above, HR can play a significant role in curbing cyber security threats. Though the threats are both destructive and disturbing, HR professionals can play a pivotal role in fighting against cyber-crime at work. Here’s how they can succeed in doing that:
1. Human resources department can assist the IT crew in developing and propagating security policies and guidelines across the organisation.
2. One of the most effective tricks is to train the entire HR staff on cyber security protocols. This becomes necessary for newly recruited employees. The training ought to be an integral part of the on-boarding process wherein the newly recruited folks are instructed about issues related to using and accessing sensitive data alongside providing them with basic cyber security training. The training without fail should include email security and ways of identifying potential malicious content.
3. Human resource personnel should make sure that newly recruited employees do not possess any sensitive or confidential data from their ex-employer.
4. It is advisable to close all the online accounts of former employees as soon as they walk out of the organisation. This is because most of the cyber-attacks reported occur when an employee exits the organisation.
5. HR teams should also stress on the disciplinary ramifications for employees, who fail to abide by the security protocols.
Closing the Curtain
Whilst the cyber security threat can never be fully eradicated, afore-mentioned information evidences that the risks can be curbed significantly through an effective and proactive human resource management strategy. In the end, the biggest and unfortunate threat to an organisation’s cyber security is that of its own people.
The goal is to be proactive rather than being reactive when it comes to cyber security. People are frail and mistakes do tend to happen. Nevertheless, setting up prompt HR, security policies and protocols can mitigate such risks to a great extent.
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Disclaimer: All the information, views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and their respective web sources and in no way reflect the principles, views or objectives of Pocket HRMS.