HR specialists may have a unique opportunity to mitigate cybersecurity risks.
Cybersecurity concerns the entire organization, not just the IT department.
Security vulnerabilities exist at every level of the organization. Cybercriminals do not limit themselves to targeting your security team – they target everyone in the company. As a result, cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility.
This line of thinking supports a great argument for including human resources teams in cybersecurity decision-making processes. The way your HR department responds to cybersecurity policy will make a significant difference in your overall readiness to respond to cyber threats.
Human resources professionals play an increasingly important role helping IT security teams craft and implement good security policies. They can also drive effective cybersecurity training throughout the organization and help respond to data incidents involving employees.
Giving your HR department greater responsibility over cybersecurity compliance can help prepare your organization against persistent threats and advanced attacks. Plus, encouraging security operations professionals to collaborate more effectively with HR team members can improve compliance and protect against a wide range of risks.
Several Factors Contribute to HR’s New Security Role
In the not-too-distant past, executives would have viewed the idea of combining human resources and cybersecurity with skepticism. But this is no longer the case. Several factors contribute to the emergence of this trend today:
A more active regulatory environment
Employees have to follow a much larger and more comprehensive set of rules than they did years ago. Increased regulatory oversight means that employers have to invest in employee tracking systems that meet specific compliance requirements, and it falls on human resources to introduce these systems.
The pervasive use of mobile technology
Phones, tablets, and laptop computers are all important cybersecurity endpoints that need adequate protection. It falls on human resources to keep track of these devices and stipulate rules for their use.
New types of cybersecurity threats
Ransomware impacted 72% of cybersecurity organizations in 2021. While many of these attacks use novel technologies and sophisticated exploits, almost all of them also rely on complacent employees making security mistakes.
Remote and hybrid work
Remote and hybrid work have had a dramatic rise in recent years. This means organizations now increasingly use software to monitor work from home employees. And, as a result, cybercriminals have been quick to catch on to remote work tracking software vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity teams need to vet and approve work from home software before human resources goes through with implementation.
In today’s cybersecurity landscape, employee data and security practices play a central role in determining how prepared organizations really are to withstand cyberthreats. According to Mercer’s 2021 Global Talent Study, 62% of executives say the greatest threat to their organization’s cybersecurity is employee non-compliance – not hackers or negligent vendors.
As a result, more organizations are making HR a primary driver of cybersecurity risk management. A strong partnership between information security and human resources is essential for managing risk in today’s tech-enabled hybrid-work environment.
It’s Time for HR and Cybersecurity To Work Together
In today’s increasingly digital and remote working world, one of the most important tasks that cybersecurity and HR teams can take on together is tracking remote employees. Whether using an employee hour tracking app, or a more sophisticated staff tracking system, it’s vital that both security and HR teams have access to reliable data on user activities.
Cybersecurity teams can use behavioral analytics to determine whether individual users are acting in accordance with established permissions and policies. Your human resources team is then best-equipped to communicate these permissions and policies to users so that they know what constitutes non-compliance.
This two-pronged approach is ideal for managing data disclosures and breaches. Whether they are accidental or malicious in nature, both cybersecurity and human resources expertise is necessary to achieve an optimal approach to security.
In the event of an accidental disclosure, it usually falls on the HR team to communicate with employees and determine the direction for resolving the issue internally. If HR already has insight into the situation at hand, it is better-equipped to handle it appropriately and communicate the results of your cybersecurity team’s investigation to employees and stakeholders.
Use HR to Cultivate a Cybersecurity Culture
Your human resources department is usually the first and most important point of contact employees have with your organization. This gives your HR team a unique ability to establish and reinforce cultural norms specific to your company.
If you capitalize on this opportunity to build a cybersecurity culture, managing office-based staff and tracking remote employees to safeguard your company’s data will be easier and more effective.
Training is one of the most evident opportunities you have to leverage cybersecurity talent, and should receive input from both cybersecurity and HR experts. Training is a proactive approach to cybersecurity threats that are too often only dealt with reactively.
Your training resources should include guidance on how to recognize and handle common security scenarios like email phishing and expired SSL certificates. Establishing clear operating procedures for responding to these threats prevents employees from making mistakes.
Further, if your team works remotely, training should include detailed onboarding for your work from home software, including demonstrating how it is used to secure and handle sensitive data.
Improve Employee Data Controls and Access Management
Establishing employee data permissions is not just an IT responsibility. It’s also an HR issue, especially when the data in question pertains to other employees. HR is uniquely positioned to determine who has access to employee data and how that access is controlled. In many cases, these permissions are established during employee onboarding.
Similarly, the end of an employee’s tenure with your company is a pivotal moment. Your HR team has an opportunity to improve security by terminating permissions, revoking access, and reporting results to cybersecurity. Failure to do this can result in privileged access remaining open to employees long after they leave the company.
If your HR and IT security teams are fully synchronized with one another, they can streamline the onboarding and termination process and protect against negligent vulnerabilities. This is not easily achievable without input from both teams.
Use Compliant, Secure Work From Home Software
In our increasingly distributed working world, choosing the right software for tracking remote employees is key to successfully combining HR and cybersecurity.. It must enable company leaders to determine the appropriate standards for access and control of sensitive data, while also factoring into a sound risk management strategy.
By thinking of cybersecurity as a joint operation between your I.T. and HR teams, you are able to build a more robust, dual-pronged approach to safeguarding your data. It’s also a more human-centric approach to cybersecurity that combines the rigid controls of technology with the softer touch of direct human interaction.