HR Management & Compliance, Technology

HR Should Play a Key Role in Incident Response

Cybersecurity and the crucial role HR professionals play are more urgent topics than ever in today’s digital landscape. You may think cybersecurity is solely an information technology (IT) department concern, but think again.

While IT handles the technical aspects, HR can make or break the human element by educating staff, enforcing policies, and communicating effectively. They’re unsung heroes of cybersecurity who can significantly bolster a company’s defense against cyberthreats.

Why HR Is Essential for Cybersecurity Responses

While the spotlight often shines on IT departments for cybersecurity measures, HR’s role is just as crucial. HR serves as the backbone for creating a resilient and secure organizational environment. What are the compelling reasons HR is an essential pillar in cybersecurity responses?

1.   Educational Training

HR can take the lead in launching cybersecurity training programs for employees. It starts with a needs assessment to identify what staff already knows and needs to learn. After that, HR can work with IT experts to develop a tailored training curriculum.

The heightened awareness significantly reduces the risk of a security breach. In addition, keeping employees well informed is crucial in reducing the risk of security incidents.

2.   Policy Enforcement

HR is the driving force behind policy enforcement, especially regarding cybersecurity. Once the guidelines are laid out, they ensure employees understand these rules by integrating them into training programs and employee handbooks.

Consistency in applying policies is also crucial for the success of any cybersecurity program. Inconsistent enforcement can lead to gaps in the security framework, making it easier for cyberthreats to penetrate.

3.   Communication

In the heat of a cybersecurity incident, straightforward and rapid communication is essential. This is where HR shines. HR departments are skilled in coordinating messages between different organizational layers, from the executive board to frontline employees.

The 2022 Security Operations Benchmark Study underscores the importance of timely communication for effective incident response. Among the study participants, 73% expect their organizations to address critical event management proactively.

4.   Talent Acquisition

HR is vital in attracting and recruiting cybersecurity experts, but it doesn’t stop there. They also ensure candidates have the right mix of technical skills and cultural fit for the organization. HR’s involvement in hiring cybersecurity professionals is crucial to building a robust security posture.

These experts address immediate issues and proactively identify potential vulnerabilities. By hiring the right talent, HR builds an effective cybersecurity strategy that fortifies the organization.

5.   Employee Behavior Analysis

HR serves as a watchful eye over employee behavior, which is critical for cybersecurity. They use tools like periodic audits, access reviews, and behavior analytics to monitor how employees interact with sensitive data and systems.

This ongoing oversight enables HR to spot inconsistencies that could be early signs of internal risks or even external intrusions. People Managing People stresses HR departments’ critical roles in crisis management, including risk prevention through behavior monitoring.

The ability to detect risks early is invaluable. By catching red flags such as unauthorized access or mishandling sensitive data, HR can take immediate action before these become full-blown crises.

Tips for Involving HR More in Incident Response Planning

While IT teams tackle the technical challenges, HR holds the key to crucial elements like communication, training, and policy enforcement. These are actionable ways to involve HR more fully in incident response planning, making your organization more resilient and better prepared for any cybersecurity challenges that come your way.

1.   Include HR in Risk Assessment

HR should be an active participant in cybersecurity risk assessments. Often, these assessments focus on technical vulnerabilities, but they can bring a unique perspective by highlighting human-centered risks.

For example, HR can identify areas where employee training may be lacking or point out the risks associated with remote work setups. In addition, involving HR in managing cyber-risk adds invaluable layers of insight into organizational behavior and policy adherence.

2.   Regular Updates and Training

Periodic training sessions serve as a refresher and an opportunity to introduce new developments in the cybersecurity landscape. It’s not just the IT department that needs to be in the know—HR professionals also must stay current to guide employees effectively.

When HR stays up to date, the whole organization benefits. Understanding the latest threats helps HR fine-tune policies, adapt training modules for staff, and better assess potential risks.

3.   Cross-Departmental Collaboration

While IT brings technical expertise, HR provides insight into human behavior and organizational dynamics. A close relationship allows for better communication, smoother processes, and quicker response times.

Medium’s Authority Magazine highlights the importance of cross-functional collaboration for enhanced cybersecurity. For instance, the HR department should participate when an organization undergoes an IT system upgrade. They ensure a seamless employee transition, hold regular meetings, and maintain open communication channels between teams.

4.   Create a Crisis Response Team

HR should consider forming a dedicated crisis response team for rapid and effective incident response. This specialized group focuses on preparing for, responding to, and recovering from cybersecurity incidents. In addition, the role of HR in crisis management is pivotal, and having a specialized team ensures your organization is always ready to act quickly and effectively.

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can also enhance the team’s efficiency by automating alerts for real-time data analysis. It ensures management makes the most timely and informed decisions.

5.   Review and Update Policies

Cyberthreats are like moving targets—constantly changing and evolving. That’s why HR needs to keep policies up to date. Adapting to new threats boosts defense and empowers employees to take adequate preventive measures. Updated policies guide staff in responding to the latest phishing scams, ransomware, or data breaches, thereby reducing risks.

The Role of HR in Cybersecurity Is Vital and Multifaceted

HR teams are pivotal in creating a secure and resilient workforce. They participate in risk assessments and foster strong relationships with IT to develop dedicated crisis response teams and stay updated on cybersecurity trends. By taking these proactive steps, HR can respond effectively to incidents and contribute significantly to preventing them.

Zac Amos is the Features Editor at ReHack.

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