The role of HR and other departments in corporate cybersecurity

Faced with the rise of cybercrime, every employee will have to do their part. And often, the HR department is the first line of defense.

Regardless of company size or industry, cybersecurity should always be a priority. With data breaches on the rise, without the necessary protections, the business is potentially heading for disaster. And be careful, because your profits and reputation may suffer.

Fortunately, there are some precautions you can take to avoid the risk of breaches. However, each employee will have to do their part. Often, the HR department is the first line of defense. From the onboarding process for new hires to ongoing training programs, the scope of the HR team is broad enough to protect the organization’s personnel and finances from cybercriminals. Let’s see how to implement the necessary protections today.

Data security from day one

To explain the importance of cybersecurity, the HR team must first understand the issues. What are the assets at risk? And what would be the consequences of a data breach for the company? From year to year, cybercrime continues to increase. Technology is constantly changing, and the tactics hackers use to steal information from companies and their employees are following the same curve. Imagine digital crooks getting their hands on a company’s financial data, holding it hostage with ransomware, or taking it out of service. In addition to losing customers, it exposes itself to financial penalties of several million euros and legal proceedings.

HR, of course, cannot overlook cybersecurity. That’s why, from the moment the decision to recruit is made, the HR team must be confronted with its security responsibilities. In 2022, technology has evolved and transformed recruiting methods. Thanks to video conferencing, we can now conduct job interviews with candidates from all over the world. Be careful, though, because it’s not difficult for a cybercriminal to hack solutions like Zoom and Skype in the middle of a job interview. All he has to do is infiltrate the corporate network to wreak havoc.

Another threat is hard-to-detect phishing emails when resumes and cover letters flood HR inboxes and overworked hiring managers let their guard down. However, by accidentally clicking on the links contained in various malicious messages opened by mistake, these employees allow the malware to automatically enter the company’s system.

To block them and combat other threats, HR must work hand in hand with the IT department. The goal: to take stock of the most recent and common threats. Once these new elements are in possession, HR can prepare a list of security measures to be applied in each hiring. Finally, during the hiring process, the slightest suspicious sign should be reported immediately.

Safety objective during onboarding new recruits

The HR team must continue its actions in favor of safety throughout the onboarding period of new hires. Prior to any new hire, HR must fully understand the nature and scope of the position to be filled. They will have to determine the authorizations the new employee will need to carry out their missions. Its access must then be restricted to the only programs and files necessary for the exercise of its functions. If the person does not accept the position, their permissions must be removed immediately.

Another point, HR must develop and present the policies that employees must follow to protect themselves and the company from the cyber threat. If the company equips its employees with mobile devices (cell phones and tablets), the policy may specify when and under what conditions these devices can be used off-premises. Other elements may be indicated, such as the authorized programs and the security methods imposed – specific password format, double authentication or any other precautionary measure.

The information that collaborators can or cannot share will have to be defined in a document. In fact, anything from a customer’s credit card number to their email address is susceptible to being stolen and resold on the black market – for fraud purposes. Employees must therefore be informed of what constitutes private information. Again, HR can reach out to IT teams to ensure all devices and files are encrypted. The important thing is, in fact, to prevent this information from being exposed, even in case of accidental sharing.

Cybersecurity training: role of HR and managers

The onboarding process should include employee cybersecurity training. This program will cover threats and the means available to employees to identify and prevent them. The most common problems should also be presented, such as phishing scams, password attacks, ransomware and malware. At the end of each training session, HR should require employees to confirm their learning. By doing so, it allows the company to ensure that its employees are properly trained. And in case you put her in danger, she can hold them responsible.

Once your employees are trained on the cyber threat, HR will have to set up a simple reporting system. Employees will use it at the slightest suspicious sign that requires immediate attention. To be effective, this system must generally include an email address or a ticket management system under the permanent control of the Information Systems Department. Once trained in the ticketing system, employees will have to sign the memorandum of understanding that commits them. No problem should be ignored, and when an employee detects a real threat, their efforts should be recognized.

While HR conducts many of these training programs, the management team also has a role to play in corporate cybersecurity. It must commit to giving continuity to these training initiatives in the face of new threats and situations. Managers should also closely monitor employee activity. The slightest breach of security caused, intentionally or unintentionally, by one of the employees must be reported immediately.

As we have seen, HR can intervene at various points, improving its processes to make cybersecurity a priority. By following the few tips given in this article, the company increases its chances of sustaining its growth and protecting its interests from the very beginning.

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