Regardless of the size of your business or the industry you occupy, cybersecurity must always be the top priority. Data breaches are becoming more common as time goes on, and if your company does not have the proper protections in place, then you could be looking at a potential catastrophe, and your profits and reputation could be on the line.
The good news is that there are many precautions that your company can take to prevent a potential breach, but every employee at your company needs to do their part, and your human resources department is often your first defense. From the onboarding process to the ongoing training programs they create, your HR team can do a lot to protect the employees and your bottom line from the efforts of cybercriminals. Let’s talk about how to enact the necessary protections starting today.
Importance of Data Security from Day One
Before they can explain the importance of cybersecurity to the team, it is essential that your human resources staff understands what is at risk and how a successful breach could negatively impact the company. Cybercrimes continue to rise year by year and as technology constantly evolves, so will the tactics used by hackers to steal corporate and employee information. If hackers are successful in their attempts to steal your financial data, take your company hostage with ransomware, or put your company out of commission, then you could lose customers and face millions in fines and potential lawsuits.
Needless to say, your HR department cannot afford to put cybersecurity on the backburner. The security responsibilities of the human resources team need to start as soon as you decide to bring on new employees. The good news about recruiting and hiring in 2022 is that technology has grown with the times, and now we can interview candidates from around the world with video conference software. However, programs like Zoom and Skype can be easily hacked during interviews, and from there, cybercriminals can make their way to your corporate network and cause havoc.
Then there is the threat of phishing emails that can be hard to detect when there is an influx of resumes and cover letters arriving in a corporate inbox. An overburdened HR employee can easily forget about potential cybercrime, open numerous malicious communications, and accidentally click on the links inside, which could result in the automatic introduction of malware into the system.
To catch these and any other potential threats, HR must partner with the IT department so they can learn about the newest and most common threats. Then, they should use that information to create a checklist of safety precautions that they will follow when hiring every single employee. If anything suspicious happens during the hiring process, it should be reported immediately.
Security During Onboarding
The HR team needs to continue its security efforts during the onboarding processes for all new employees. Before a new worker is brought on, human resources needs to have a complete understanding of what their role will entail so they can determine the permissions that the employee will require to do their jobs. The new hire should only have access to those programs and files, and if they end up not accepting the offer of employment, those permissions should then be terminated immediately.
Next, HR needs to create and present policies that employees must follow to protect themselves and the company from the threat of cybercrime. If your employees are provided with mobile technology such as cell phones and tablets, then the policy might discuss when and if these devices can be taken off of the premises, what programs can be used, and how they should be secured, whether that is with a specific password format, two-factor authentication, or another precaution.
A policy should also be created as to what information can and cannot be shared by the staff. The fact is that any piece of information, from a customer’s credit card number down to their email address, can be stolen by hackers and sold on the black market or used for future scams. Employees should be advised as to what is considered to be private information, and HR can again partner up with the IT team to ensure that all devices and files are encrypted so that data won’t be at risk even if it is shared unintentionally.
HR and Management Training
Employee cybersecurity training must be an essential part of the onboarding process with lessons on the potential threats and how employees can identify and avoid them. The most common issues need to be discussed, including phishing scams, password attacks, ransomware, and the threat of malware. After every one of these training sessions, HR needs to require that the employees sign off on what they learned. By doing so, you can not only ensure that they have been properly instructed, but you can also hold them accountable if they put the company at risk.
Once they know the threats, HR needs to create a simple reporting system that employees can use if they notice something suspicious that requires immediate attention. A good system will typically include an email address or a ticketing system that is continuously monitored by IT. Employees should be educated on the system and then required to sign off on the memo of understanding so they can be held accountable. No issue should ever fall on deaf ears, and when employees notice a true threat, they should be recognized for their efforts.
While HR may create many of these training programs, the management team also has a role in corporate cybersecurity, and they should make it a point to continue these training initiatives as new threats and situations arise. Management also needs to keep a close eye on employee activity and also immediately make a report if a worker creates a security vulnerability, regardless of if it was intentional or not.
As you can see, there are plenty of areas where your human resources team can improve its processes to prioritize cybersecurity. By following these tips, a business can be set up for continued success and protect its interests from the very start.