Having a secure network should be a top priority for every business. With the increasing frequency and complexity of cyber attacks, organizations can’t take any chances on keeping their data out of the wrong hands. And there are so many tools that help businesses achieve a safer and more secure environment. There are security technologies for everything from ransomware to phishing. But one tool that sometimes gets overlooked can actually be a business’s biggest strength (and potentially its most significant risk): its people. And we’re not just talking about a company’s IT department or cybersecurity team. We are talking about every employee at an organization because every employee can offer hackers a potential way into a business’s network. So today, we will discuss how companies can strengthen the human vulnerabilities at their organization by creating a human firewall.
A technical firewall is a network security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic. Based on an organization’s firewall security, the technology will act as a barrier between a trusted network and an untrusted network, keeping bad actors from getting in. But a human firewall is a human layer of protection, and it comprises a business’s employees and creates a safer network through education and incentives throughout the company.
It’s important to remember that a human firewall is not limited to a specific department or team. Human firewall responsibilities do not rest solely on an organization’s IT department, unlike many cybersecurity responsibilities. It’s about training, educating, and empowering every person—whether in accounting or customer service—on cybersecurity and how they play an essential role in keeping the company’s data safe.
Organizations must understand the need for a human firewall because humans are the biggest risk for every business. We often think that cybercriminals solely rely on technology to hack into a network, but the reality is that often it’s a human that opens the door. Through sophisticated attacks such as phishing or social engineering, hackers prey on employees to provide an opening into a network. So, companies need to start providing extensive education, simulation, and training to each and every employee so that these attacks don’t fool them.
This is especially relevant now that many businesses continue to allow employees to work from home or implement a hybrid program. Employees need to understand how and why they need to update the software on all of their devices, how to ensure their home network is secure, and more. The cybersecurity challenges an organization faces every day have expanded beyond the four walls of office space and now exist in employees’ homes and networks too.
The first step in creating a strong human firewall is education. Your employees need to understand the threats the company faces and how they play a role in defending against them. Every employee and organization onboards should go through cybersecurity training. Further, companies should be holding ongoing and consistent cybersecurity training programs for all employees. It may feel repetitive to have this type of training every year or six months, but cybercriminals adapt quickly and constantly create innovative and sophisticated ways to infiltrate networks. Employees need to stay up to date on these threats and what they will appear. As part of these training programs, organizations should run simulations to reinforce the importance of being aware and provide extra training opportunities.
Next up for the human firewall: Multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA is a relatively simple way to add another layer of security across an organization. MFA requires employees to secure their accounts with more than just a password, and they will also need a key or code from another device to log in to an account. A hacker can’t get into an employee’s account with only the password with MFA in place. This is an easy way to up your security game, so ensuring that your employees understand and use MFA is a great way to improve your human firewall.
Last but not least, a significant way to improve your human firewall is to create a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy. With many employees using a range of different devices, often including a personal smartphone or laptop, they must understand how to keep these devices secure. It can be easier to maintain security practices and install the necessary software and security tools with company-issued devices. Still, these things need to be happening with personal devices too. Employees should be trained on the BYOD policy and know how to follow the procedures that are in place.
So, it’s time that your business goes beyond security technologies and starts to improve its human firewall. Employees are one of the most significant risks for an organization, so ensuring that they strengthen your security posture instead of compromising it is incredibly important.
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