Now, you might be thinking HR and cybersecurity couldn’t be more unrelated. After all, cybersecurity is why IT teams exist, right? We HR folk aren’t made to deal with technology!
Well, not necessarily. Whether we like it or not, digital security is becoming everyone’s concern. Just like we all had to wear masks during the pandemic, we all have to be careful not to facilitate any data leaks online.
And think of HR’s main roles: dealing with sensitive information such as employee details, client info, company data… Anyone who gets ahold of all of this would suddenly find themselves the proud owner of immense knowledge, from exactly how much money everyone makes to which job positions might be eradicated soon.
So what exactly is the role that HR plays in cybersecurity, and how can we incorporate HR into cybersecurity practices?
Get to know possible threats
Because you can’t prevent attacks that you don’t know might be happening. Helping the HR team recognise cyber threats means not only engaging in activities that minimise risks, but also conducting risk assessments as often as necessary.
Of course, not every cyber threat can be prevented or even recognised. But providing adequate training on digital conduct and possible cybersecurity issues is a great first step in making sure that everyone is on the lookout.
Also keep in mind that smaller and newer companies, which are less likely to have adequate cybersecurity measures in place, are more likely to get attacked. So make sure that HR, tech, and employees are on the same page about how to guard sensitive information.
Get employees on board
Of course, a company is only ever as good as its employees. And in this case, a company can only ever be as safe as its employees are. And what is HR’s role if not to keep employees informed?
The best way to go about this is to place emphasis on cybersecurity during the onboarding process. Familiarising employees with such practices from the get-go helps ensure not only that new hires will be vigilant about digital practices going forward, but also that even the initial data they are inputting into the system will be done so securely.
Involving all teams and employees in the security process can also create a sense that everyone is not only responsible for, but implicated by, the safekeeping of company data.
Remote employees are part of your team too!
Unsurprisingly, the increase in remote work has seen an increase in cybersecurity attacks. With company data now spread over multiple work locations and IP addresses, it is becoming easier for potential attackers to access confidential information by penetrating personal (and therefore less secure) WiFi connections or clouds.
So if your company, like all others, now relies on a plethora of remote or freelance workers to get jobs done, extending HR processes to educate remote employees on cybersecurity standards can be a very important step in the process.
In addition to including cybersecurity training on all onboarding programmes, make sure to adequately train remote workers on potential remote attacks and preventions as well.
The IT department is your friend!
When it comes to cybersecurity, no one expects the HR department to come up with protocols on their own. Instead, unite with the IT department every now and then to review potential cybersecurity attacks and how to shield the company against them.
Involving HR in the creation of security policies is not only a great way of ensuring that all departments are acting with the company’s best interest in mind, but also that there are many different perspectives in the making of security practices. It is no secret that most IT staff will be quantitative, while most HR staff will be qualitative. Combining these two qualities in the same room will then help you cover all of your bases.
Encouraging the HR department and the IT department work together on cybersecurity is also important in making sure that the HR team get a better understanding of how to properly operate all necessary software in a cautious and safe manner.
Keep up to date
When it comes to cybersecurity, there is something to be learned every week. So perhaps one of the most important roles of HR in ensuring company security is to stay up to date on the newest trends and technologies relating to digital security.
Part of this, of course, is to be aware of the latest legal requirements and industry standards. Beyond that, it is keeping track of current practices and potential future ones, knowing how to properly report data breaches, and having a steady plan for handling potential incidents. Getting together with IT is a great way of ensuring understanding of cybersecurity, but keeping on top of it all is a job on its own.
Think about having a monthly HR newsletter mentioning the latest on cybersecurity, or incorporating gamification to make cybersecurity fun.
Make if part of company culture
And finally, make it part of your brand! As we all know by now, maintaining a business ethos and aligning employees with company culture is extremely important. So why not make cybersecurity part of this?
When employees care about the business they work for, they also care for the business’s wellbeing. While we could go into way more detail about the idea of company culture and hiring the correct employees who care for your business as much as you do, we won’t. Because it would take hours, and because we’ve already done so here.
So instead, we’ll offer an addendum.
Be a company that keeps security at the forefront at all times. Ensure your employees that this is not just for the company’s, but for the employees’ security as well. Treat your employees’ personal data with as much care as you would like for them to treat the company’s. And make this respect part of company culture, both online and in real life. Because when cybersecurity becomes part of your day-to-day, it’ll not just make the practice more seamless but also make it easier to identify employees who might not align with it.
And who better to implement company culture than the HR department?