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Cybersecurity HR for Business Sustainability

Cybersecurity HR for Business Sustainability

Strengthening organizational defenses from within with cybersecurity HR

We work in a rapidly evolving workplace, and cybersecurity is not just a technical challenge but a holistic organizational effort. The Human Resources (HR) department, traditionally viewed through the lens of employee recruitment, hiring, and retention, can be a surprisingly pivotal ally in fortifying an organization’s digital security posture. It’s no longer just about finding the right resumes, fluent in new and important future-proofing technology like the core principles of zero trust, experienced in preventing zero-day attacks, microsegmentation vs. network segmentation, understanding of secure cloud transformation, knowing how to implement micro-segmentation, the intricacies of OT security, or conducting red team exercises.

There is an important and strategic role that HR can play in enhancing organizational cybersecurity best practices, driven by the modern necessity to integrate cybersecurity awareness into every facet of the employee lifecycle.

The Untapped Potential of Cybersecurity HR

HR departments possess a unique vantage point, interfacing across departments with a reach far surpassing that of IT. This visibility and access to employees from the outset of their employment journey present an invaluable opportunity to instill a foundational culture of risk awareness.

Despite 85% of organizations having a cybersecurity training program, 56% of leaders still see a knowledge gap in employee awareness, up from 52% in 2021. Meanwhile, 73% of firms without a program are now pursuing one, up from 66%. [Fortinet]

Despite their crucial role, HR departments can sometimes overlook integrating cybersecurity risk awareness training with new hire onboarding—a gap that, if bridged, can significantly bolster an organization’s security infrastructure and set a clear and expected standard for expected practices at induction.

Training and Retention: A Dual Focus

Long the stewards of regulatory compliance training, human resorces departments are increasingly tasked with administering data privacy and security training programs. As regulations and cybersecurity standards governing data acquisition, usage, and storage grow in complexity—and as the penalties for non-compliance hit the daily PR headlines—HR’s role in enforcing data protection policies becomes ever more critical. Moreover, HR’s involvement in employee skill development, particularly in familiarizing them with internal systems, is further indispensable in mitigating insider risk cybersecurity complications. Specialized training tailored to varying levels of technological proficiency can significantly reduce vulnerabilities.

Retention of cybersecurity team professionals presents another challenge. The competitive nature of the cybersecurity field makes retaining skilled professionals paramount.

The cybersecurity workforce has reached 5.5 million people, an 8.7% increase from 2022, representing 440,000 new jobs. However, there is still an extensive shortfall in talent, with an estimated 4 million professionals needed to safeguard digital assets adequately. [ISC2]

HR’s insights into employee satisfaction and engagement are crucial for developing effective retention strategies, thereby ensuring the organization’s security measures remain robust.

Fostering Interdepartmental Partnerships

The creation of a cybersecurity HR awareness training program strikes a delicate balance between being informative and engaging without overwhelming the audience. Helping colleagues understand the dangers of phishing attacks, recognizing deepfakes, the signs of malvertising, the perils of BYOD security, and the importance of good cyber hygiene in raising cybersecurity standards is now fundamental to the work of many human resources departments.

HR’s deep understanding of the employee base serves as a cornerstone for crafting training programs that resonate with employees across the board, being uniquely placed to reach out to individual departments to find how to get buy-in from stakeholders across the organization. Collaboration with the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and IT departments can further enhance these training initiatives, ensuring they are both comprehensive and technologically sound.

The role of the CISO, in partnership with HR, plays a crucial part in aligning technology solutions with training needs, thereby fostering a culture of digital security mindfulness throughout the organization. This collaborative approach not only elevates the effectiveness of cybersecurity training but also aids in the recruitment and retention of IT and security talent, possibly taking some of the training burden away from already pressed and time-stretched security teams.

Making Security Everyone’s Business

HR’s involvement extends beyond training and retention, playing a critical role in cyber risk assessment and incident response planning. Given that HR systems are often prime targets for cybercriminals, safeguarding these assets is paramount. Including HR in cybersecurity planning committees ensures a well-rounded perspective that considers both operational integrity and employee welfare.

Communicating the importance of cybersecurity across the organization is a shared responsibility. The CIO, in collaboration with HR, must articulate the company’s commitment to data protection in a manner that empowers every employee to contribute to cybersecurity efforts within their respective roles. This partnership is instrumental in nurturing a security-aware culture, which is essential for sustaining a strong security posture.

The Cybersecurity HR Partnership

The integration of HR into cybersecurity initiatives represents a strategic shift towards a more holistic approach to organizational security. By leveraging HR’s extensive reach and insight into the employee experience, organizations can develop more effective cybersecurity awareness programs, foster a culture of risk awareness, and strengthen their overall security posture. The collaboration between HR, IT, and cybersecurity professionals is not just beneficial—it’s essential for building resilient defenses in the face of ever-evolving cyber threats. As we navigate the rapidly evolving workplaces of the future, let us remember that cybersecurity is not solely the domain of technical experts but a collective responsibility that spans the entire organization.

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