Oct 07, 2019 04:16 PM EDT

The HR Department’s Role In Preventing Cyberattacks

The HR Department’s Role In Preventing Cyberattacks

(Photo : Image by Robinraj Premchand)

Whenever cybersecurity comes up in any work-related conversation, eyes usually turn to the IT department for their input. But modern work environments also embrace HR teams' roles in a cybersecurity context. Cyberattacks are a bigger problem than ever before. How can HR do their part to ensure the safety of the business as a whole? 

Security policy does not fall onto the shoulders of the IT department alone. It also falls within the domain of the human resources department. It should help shape and enforce these policies. HR professionals generally have a deep knowledge of how employees conduct their daily responsibilities. They, more than anyone else, are able to cultivate healthy digital practices and decide whether current systems are suitable or need updating. 

The way that employees interact with technology, the company's digital assets, and the work environment all play a role in cybersafety. HR professionals should be the first to know when any of these factors put the company at risk. They should also consider how to adapt to a changing work environment and where change will create safety risks. 

People Are at the Center of Good Cybersecurity 

All the efforts of IT teams cannot replace the necessity of appropriate security practices among employees. People will always be the weakest link in any security setup. And history has proven that they can derail even the most well-planned security strategies. This is why it's important to focus on people when thinking of cybersecurity. 

Creating an environment that facilitates and rewards safe cyber practices is a start. This should be a top-down effort. Start with executive management by creating a security-minded culture that affirms the positive side of safe practices. Onboarding and training also play a major role in getting rid of bad habits and outdated notions that people might have. 

But cyber threats continue to grow, and so should the efforts of both the IT and HR departments in a unison venture. Continual re-evaluation, testing, and adjustment will ensure that current policies and systems are effective. 

To that end, it's important that HR professionals stay on top of current trends in cybersecurity. Below are some of the biggest threats facing businesses today and how HR plays a role in preventing them. 

Hackers Love Targeting Poor Authentication Methods 

Authentication methods are completely necessary when trying to regulate access. However, the main authentication method for the past few decades has been passwords, which are proven to be ineffective. There are two main obstacles to password safety as a competent authentication option: 

1. Employees have a big responsibility to create and manage a long list of complex passwords, which has proven to be a laborious undertaking. So most ignore these guidelines. They then choose simpler, easy to remember passwords that are shared by multiple individual accounts.

2. Hackers know this. Therefore, they have various methods and systems in place to take advantage of poor password hygiene. 

Studies have shown that easily-to-guess passwords are common under employees. And that they tend to recycle them across platforms. When paired with business emails and directories that are easily obtainable by outsiders, this creates a major problem. 

This habit not only perpetuates hackers' efforts to exploit credentials. It also fuels the cycle of data breaches. Whenever hackers perform credential reuse attacks, brute force attacks, or phishing attacks to gain access to confidential data, the cycle continues. They keep increasing their supply of illicitly obtained credentials, which sustains repeated attacks. 

There's a Fine Line Between Safety and Convenience 

Companies adopt new methods to increase employee awareness of safety procedures. HR teams should equip employees with better authentication methods, like fingerprint scanning and other timesaving processes.

It's vital that HR professionals find a balance between safety and convenience. Because putting more obstacles in front of employees in the name of cybersafety will only result in them finding shortcuts. And shortcuts often lead to ineffective security and exploitable loopholes. Features like single sign-on, email encryption, two-factor authentication, and a VPN all make life more convenient but also more secure. 

In terms of the latter, connecting to a secure VPN server (https://nordvpn.com/servers/) is essential for remote workers who access the company's infrastructure. Which happens more and more as employees migrate towards a non-traditional workplace environment and remote access. 

Passwords might never be entirely reduced from every company, but HR teams can help implement measures to reduce them. When thinking about cybersecurity, HR can bring a number of good questions and initiatives to the table. 

The Bottom Line 

Cybersecurity and the well-being of the company are in everyone's interest, and the HR department can help facilitate and grow that concept. They need to set themselves up as an integral part of the cybersecurity initiatives at a company, along with the IT department.

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