Cyberattacks are a growing threat to companies in all industries. As business and commerce increasingly take place online, digital bad actors have more opportunities to hack networks, steal data and wreak havoc on a company’s systems. While IT professionals work hard to defend against attacks and find lasting solutions, effective cybersecurity depends on companywide cooperation.
HR departments are in a perfect position to rally the entire team, providing the necessary guidance for all employees to prevent these attacks and keep information secure. Here’s more about HR’s critical role in establishing cybersecurity protocols for all businesses.
What Is HR’s Role in Cybersecurity?
Human resources makes up the backbone of every organization. Employees are a vital component, and HR is responsible for ensuring everyone is safe, treated fairly and in the loop. From staffing and training to handling employee relations, development and potential issues, HR has a hand in almost every aspect of a business’s operations.
HR’s versatile responsibilities puts it in a unique position to address cybersecurity concerns. This department stores sensitive information about employees and must stay on top of security protocols — data privacy is no small issue when it comes to worker safety and trust. It can also communicate with all employees about proper procedures and how to handle potential problems as they arise.
7 Ways HR Can Prevent Cyberattacks
With such a wide scope of duties, HR departments have several opportunities to support a company’s security goals and create a safer work environment. Here are the steps HR personnel can take to protect the whole team.
1. Be Vigilant When Recruiting
Recruiting and staffing are among HR’s primary responsibilities. They’re also prime opportunities for hackers and other bad actors to attack a company’s vulnerabilities and gain access to sensitive data.
HR personnel receive many applications and other documents via email. Hackers may exploit this common occurrence by putting malware or viruses in email attachments. Employees that open these corrupted documents unknowingly give hackers access to the company’s network.
Avoiding these issues requires serious vigilance. HR employees should not open anything and everything they receive — it’s best to exercise caution and only read messages from trustworthy sources. Recruiters should do enough research to verify that potential hires are legitimate and perform background checks to ensure no bad actors slip in through the cracks.
2. Onboard Training for New Hires
Another crucial HR duty is getting new employees up to speed on an organization’s cybersecurity policies. Recent hires may be unfamiliar with the latest digital safety standards, and they certainly don’t know the company’s specific procedures.
It’s important to teach new hires to identify potential security threats, how to avoid them, and who to contact in case of a breach or other issue. HR departments can include this training as part of regular onboarding to ensure all members of the organization are on the same page.
3. Provide Ongoing Training for All Employees
Training employees early in their career with the organization is essential, but it’s also necessary to refresh them often. Ongoing learning and regular courses are useful in all aspects of a company’s operations, especially cybersecurity.
Cyberattacks are constantly changing and evolving. Hosting training sessions that review standard cybersecurity procedures yearly, quarterly or at other regular intervals ensures all employees are up to date with the latest threats and how to stay a step ahead of would-be hackers.
4. Review Cybersecurity Procedures Regularly
HR departments must understand the organization’s protocols inside and out to teach employees about current digital security challenges. HR employees can ensure procedures are up to date and communicated effectively by working with IT experts who devise network baselines and test for system anomalies.
5. Limit Access to Sensitive Data
Since HR deals with employees — including their pay, benefits, interactions with other workers and more — they have a lot of sensitive information in their files. Not everyone needs access to this data. In fact, the fewer people who can see it, the better.
Access should be provided on a need-to-know basis. Setting up tighter security protocols around data files will reduce the risk of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. Monitor sensitive data access for sudden spikes in network traffic, irregular remote logins or large quantities of invalid login attempts, all of which can be indicators of malicious activity and should be addressed immediately.
6. Foster Open Communication Throughout the Company
Having strong cybersecurity measures in place doesn’t mean much if no one within the company knows about them. HR’s ability to connect with all employees allows them to effectively disperse necessary information holistically.
An HR department that expresses policies clearly makes it easier for employees to reach out when they have a problem. Workers are more likely to feel heard when HR proactively fosters open dialogue and is willing to solve issues.
7. Stay Aware of Evolving Threats
Online businesses and the cybersecurity industry are constantly growing, which means threats and risks are evolving, too. An organization’s HR department should stay up to date with the latest developments in the field, read the latest reports and remain vigilant.
HR leaders should be proactive and work with IT to develop security solutions that defend the department’s most vulnerable points. Virus protection software, email filters and limited access to sensitive files are all meaningful steps any company can take.
Boost Cybersecurity Measures to Prevent Attacks
Cybersecurity is a top priority for most organizations in today’s digital world. HR departments are uniquely positioned to mitigate these risks and help employees keep the entire company safe. They should go above and beyond to help workers take potential threats seriously and keep themselves and the business secure.