HR Management & Compliance, Technology

HR’s Growing Role in Cyber-Risk Management

As the corporate world becomes increasingly more remote and employers have less control over their employees’ systems, it becomes even more imperative that companies understand the risk of cybercrime and put the proper precautions in place to prevent a breach or an attack. Your cybersecurity policy must be comprehensive, and it should start with the efforts of your HR team.

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It is the responsibility of your HR department to educate staff and create policies that will protect your organization from hackers and thieves. To ensure your company stays safe, HR must set the stage by establishing a cybersecurity precedent during the onboarding process and beyond.

Set the Stage During Onboarding

A great way to ensure cybersecurity training is never missed is to include it as a permanent part of your onboarding process. Remember that while employees may value lessons about how to protect their systems, sometimes just telling them to do something isn’t enough.

In many cases, your team also needs to know the repercussions should the company get hacked, which could include anything from major fines to a complete shutdown of the entire company. With these dire circumstances, their employment could also be on the line.

Your HR generalist will be your go-to expert in this realm, and he or she should include this kind of training into the onboarding process, including lessons distinguishing what is confidential information within the organization and what isn’t.

There should also be instructions about how to properly secure programs with complex passwords that include a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters. Employees should know that these passwords will be updated every few months.

The onboarding process should also include clear advice on how employees can report potential cybersecurity issues if they see them. Your company needs to have a designated e-mail address or online portal where employees can advise management if they see a suspicious link or an unauthorized user.

Continuous Training Is Key

While cybersecurity training is imperative during onboarding, that initial information can be difficult to remember, especially if an employee works at your organization for years after the fact. Continuous training will be necessary regularly, especially as new threats emerge.

While sending out reminder e-mails is a good start, these messages can be easily deleted, so HR should think about ways to make the information more bearable and exciting for the recipient. A good example would be to utilize videos, slideshows with impressive visuals, and quizzes that make learning interactive.

This continuous training should include trending scams and threats that employees may not be aware of, such as phishing e-mails. Hackers try to create urgency with these scams by acting as employees’ boss or a vendor, and if an employee falls for it and clicks on the link or attachment within, the worker’s computer could become infected with malware almost instantly.

From there, hackers can make their way inside your network, where they can easily see financial information and customer data, and if that information is stolen, your organization could be in great jeopardy.

Remote Work Considerations

As remote work becomes the norm, additional cybersecurity instruction will be necessary for those who work from home or out in public. Lessons for remote employees should include the importance of strong passwords on computers and mobile devices.

HR should also warn staff about the dangers of using public Wi-Fi. It is easy for hackers to set up fake Wi-Fi networks, and when employees unknowingly connect, the hackers can instantly access their system. If employees need to use public Wi-Fi, they should enable a virtual private network (VPN) so the data on their devices is automatically encrypted.

In addition, remote employees should be advised to inform management if they have issues on their personal network so the threat doesn’t transfer over to work devices.

Create Smart Policies

The HR department at your organization should also take the time to compose and share detailed policies of a successful cybersecurity strategy. For instance, policies should be provided to remote employees about if and when they can use their mobile devices for work outside of the home. If your staff still operates in a physical office, this policy can include which company-owned devices may not leave the premises and how to properly rent out other devices.

All of the information you share with your staff regarding cybersecurity should be included in official company documentation that should be signed by all employees. In addition to stating what is expected of workers, the policy should also list any potential disciplinary actions that could be taken should an employee be negligent in following the procedures.

If or when an employee is terminated or otherwise leaves the company, HR should also be responsible for deactivating the person’s programs and work accounts so he or she cannot access them after the fact. These policies should evolve as your company grows and new threats arise.

As you can see, the HR team can be a great asset when it comes to the protection of your organization. Once your HR department learns and educates your team on how to stay protected, your company can continue to grow without fear of cybercrime.

Luke Smith is a Guest Contributor at HR Daily Advisor.