How to Create a Human-Centered Cyber Strategy

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Written By Nidhi Sharma

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Cybercriminals are now targeting every employee regardless of their position or role within the company due to recent changes in company dynamics. Organizations must adopt a human-centric approach when it comes to cybersecurity.

Many organizations have employees scattered across the country and abroad. This has made it more difficult for them to control their operations.

Many employees had additional access to company systems to improve their productivity at the start of the pandemic. This extra layer of privileges and access is still in place two years later, and many people still working remotely.

Cybercriminals are looking for ways to access data or execute the malware on employees, regardless of their position or role within the organization.

Although artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation are the most effective ways to defend against attacks in modern security discussions, employees often act as the first-line defense. Many could benefit from a human-centric approach to address security concerns and prioritize their priorities.

Recognize Prevalent Insecurities

Security audits are an important part of any organization. They should conduct regular audits in each department (either sales, marketing, or accounting) to assess employees' security approach and behavior. Security procedures can vary from one department to the next.

Human resources, for example, will have stricter security controls because of the large amount of sensitive and confidential Personal Identifiable Information. Other departments might take a more relaxed approach and be open to attack.

Organizations should implement periodic testing controls to identify and combat discrepancies. This will highlight areas or departments that may lack security awareness and knowledge.

There are many ways to do this. The most common method is to send phishing emails controlled by the company to employees to see how they respond. If an employee believes the email to be legitimate, they will have to attend anti-phishing training. This is not an attempt to shame employees, but rather to empower them to report potential phishing attacks.

It's a good idea to review the security tools used in each department, as well as their perceived importance. Multi-factor authentication is enabled and being used. Are password managers in place? Do employees use it correctly? Does it aid them in their jobs?

Embed Security Experts All-Around

Strategy creation and execution must be coordinated with security teams. Security should not be an afterthought. It should be integrated into every initiative.

Security should be a part of every initiative. Working directly with each business department allows for cross-collaboration, enhanced communication, and helps to identify gaps and determine where additional security budgets might be needed.

For each department, establish a mentor or cybersecurity ambassador who can assist in communicating security and compliance policies to the department, responding to incidents, and detecting threats.

A delegable IT person can be a great way to maximize security and understand business requirements. It is important to not only ensure security exists but also ensure it assists employees with their jobs. It is important to adopt a zero-friction security strategy that prioritizes security helping employees do their jobs.

Implement Seamless Security Solutions

Many organizations are investing in new security tools and not considering the direct users of their products due to increasing attack levels and increased pressure from company executives and board members.

Many security tools are difficult to use and manage for non-security professionals, leading to frustration and resistance. To avoid misconfigurations, poor implementation, and general friction, companies must invest in comprehensive security controls.

Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, (CISA), and Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (MS-ISAC), recommend that companies create cybersecurity awareness programs that promote and improve company-wide cyber-hygiene.

Employees should be educated about the signs of malicious activity. They should also be empowered to use password best practices. This includes how to create complex passwords regularly and what etiquette to use for storage. Encourage them to use password managers, and move passwords into the background.

Security teams are faced with a mix of noise and alerts that have an increased attack surface. This is combined with employee burnout and staffing shortages, and IT and security teams cannot control the organization's security.

A human-centered approach to security can help organizations reduce their risk. All employees should be able to use the technology and basic skills necessary to stop malicious activity. Your weakest link is your strongest.

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