Data Security Through the Lens of Human Impact

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Written By Nipun Singh

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Here are some key steps to make data security human-centric. Learn more about data security in this article.

Cybersecurity Awareness Month this year focused on the important role that everyone, including cybersecurity professionals and consumers, plays in protecting data from being stolen. It might be tempting now to put #SeeYourselfInCyber in the back view mirror, but 2023 is already here.

However, cybersecurity must be human-centric. Companies can encourage responsible behavior through the lens of human impact, which can help them improve their security strategy.

Motivation for Employees by Highlighting the Human Impact of Security Best Practices

Most people are aware of the possibility that they could fall prey to phishing scams and expose their credentials to criminals, given the media's attention to the subject. The typical response of "It won’t happen to me” is often not enough to inspire true vigilance.

Re-examining the problem from a human perspective may prove more motivating. Identity fraud and data theft can be devastating for many people.

This framing shows that cybersecurity best practices, such as being on the lookout for phishing attempts and enabling multi-factor authentication, updating software, and using strong passwords, are more than good security hygiene. These are acts of prosocial good.

Employees need to be aware that they are protecting customer and their data. Employees will be more motivated to protect their data as the California Consumer Privacy Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), empower them to find out how their employers store and use it.

The human aspect of security has two impacts on employees. They are aware of the need for data protection because it is right to protect their safety.

Cybersecurity Advocacy at the Executive Level Through the Lens of Human Impact

Chief compliance officers, CISOs, and chief privacy officers need to communicate the importance of security improvements to the C suite. They should also consider the human impact of privacy legislation. It is designed to safeguard people's safety and allow them to manage what they share about themselves.

Users who allow companies to store sensitive data about them do so knowing that they can trust that the company will keep it safe.

Recent legislation that has designated some data types as especially sensitive strengthens the human element in trust that binds companies with customers and employees.

If you consider human influence, the potential impact of a breach is more serious. Customers and employees could be at risk. A breach could also cause reputational damage that could haunt an organization long after the economic issues have been resolved.

It is important to encourage employees to use best practices when protecting data and the people who work with it. But that's not enough. Human error is a fact of life and it is not uncommon. Companies need to have data protection measures in place at all levels.

This means that the C-suite must know where all data is stored. Companies can't protect data that they don't know exists. If data is an agent for someone, then not knowing where data is stored is equivalent to leaving them behind.

Cybersecurity is Still Human-Driven, Even With The Rise of Automation

Automation is a key component of modern cybersecurity. Automation is essential to ensure data protection at scale, given the variety and frequency of possible threats. More companies will adopt automation tools as a result of major data breaches.

Automation adoption is not always a good idea. It can demotivate employees from practicing security best practices. Automated security tools can be self-sufficient and effectively omniscient so why should humans make any effort to protect data?

This is a mistake. Even the most powerful automated cybersecurity tools can't work in a vacuum. These tools are designed to support cybersecurity goals, but they may contain errors or oversights that require human intervention to correct.

Even though a tool can be expected to be 100% accurate, it is still up to humans to make sure that the information reaches the right people who will act. Finally, humans must plan for security improvements that are based on the findings of their tools.

It is clear that both a human-driven and automated approach to cybersecurity can and should coexist. These tools are important, but conversations about automation must emphasize the value of human interaction. This will encourage employees to view themselves as partners in security and help them use automated tools.

A Human-Focused Approach Matters

The current shortage of cybersecurity talent makes it difficult to attract and keep qualified professionals. A firm can stand out from the rest by valuing cybersecurity and acting proactive rather than reactively to its human impact.

ForresterOpens another window found that consumers trust companies more than governments to do the right thing. Companies can build a reputation by embracing security best practices before regulations force them to. Companies must be prepared to answer any questions or concerns that users may have.

Increased Cybersecurity Threats will Require Greater Teamwork

Cybersecurity threats are alarming. This is nearly 70% more than in 2020. It was also the most severe year ever recorded. Yet, it remains to be seen how many more have gone unreported. To ensure data security and privacy, companies must approach cybersecurity from a human-centric, bottom-up perspective to get support from employees, users, and executives.

Our world is interconnected. Cybersecurity threats are not completely preventable. However, everyone can play a part in ensuring users' data is protected. This includes educating customers and employees, implementing best practices, and educating them. It is important to "see yourself and everyone else in cyber" for the whole year, not just one month.

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