Cybersecurity is complex and constantly changing, so as the threats continue to rise, you may wonder, "whose responsibility is cybersecurity?"
As a consumer, your answer might be "the companies I trust with my data" or "the brands I do business with."
As an employee, your answer might be the CIO or CISO of your organization.
In recent years, however, experts have come to agree that cybersecurity is a social responsibility and an act of self-preservation for individuals and organizations alike.
Individual Cybersecurity Responsibility: Why should you care?
The primary concern of every organization is protecting their valuable data and digital assets. As recent newsworthy breaches have shown, however, cyber protection measures are only as good as the people supporting them — and that includes every user following, or not following, those guidelines within an organization.
But in an age of decreased corporate loyalty and increased boundary-setting between the individual and the workplace, one may wonder whether it's "their job" to be concerned about their employer's cyber safety measures. Why should you care?
As our digital lives become more interconnected, protecting the business is a vital way to protect oneself. Here's why:
- Your own data may be at risk.
Your employer's digital systems house a wide range of data, some of which includes your PII (personally identifiable information) as an employee. A breach of HR, payroll, or other identity-centric systems could wreak havoc on your personal life. With access to a database of such information, cybercriminals can extort or commit a wide range of identity theft tactics, including applying for lines of credit, obtaining fraudulent government benefits, and more.
Example: "Over 20 years of employee data leaked during ransomware attack"
- Your job could be on the line.
If the cause of a security incident can be traced to your actions, whether that be an honest mistake or intentional neglect of security best practices, you may face serious repercussions. In fact, more employees than ever are being fired for cybersecurity mistakes — even when those mistakes do not lead to an incident or breach.
- You could lose your livelihood unexpectedly.
Though the current percentage is up for debate, it is true that organizations of all sizes are at risk of going out of business following a severe cyberattack or breach. Here are six recent examples of this outcome. Whether due to lost revenue, cost to restore data, or loss of consumer trust, a security incident can spur a chain reaction of factors that may lead to business bankruptcy or even closure. This could put you and your colleagues out of work in an unexpected turn of events.
- You could put yourself at risk outside of the workplace.
In the end, while thwarting security best practices may not leave you with any consequences initially, a lenient approach to digital security in the workplace will undoubtedly be reflected in your digital habits outside of it as well. While businesses of all sizes are a prime target for attackers, individuals are often an easier one. It may only be a matter of time before you are targeted outside of the workplace, so staying diligent about security will strengthen your defense against attacks across the board.
Own Your Role: Easy ways to put security first.
Taking on the responsibility of cybersecurity doesn't have to be a daunting task, though it may seem like a complex one at first. Security concepts are easy to understand when you think about them within the framework of the following goals:
- Protecting Access
- Limiting Information Sharing
- Eliminating "Easy Ways In"
Ways to Protect Access to Valuable Data
Keep accounts locked down: In an age of distributed digital borders, accounts are the new perimeter, making passwords and authentication a major target. Committing to easy-to-use security measures like MFA (multi-factor authentication) wherever possible can be a great way to quickly enhance your account security. Another basic best practice here is to commit to using strong, complex passwords and storing them in a safe way.
Get granular with access: Ensuring that only the right individuals have access to certain information, accounts, or platforms is also an important way to protect data. In a business setting, this often includes adhering to the Principle of Least Privilege, meaning only giving things like admin access and advanced privileges to vital users and job roles — as frustrating as that may sometimes be.
What it Means to Limit Information Sharing
Know your audience: Business Email Compromise has been on the rise, and as a highly-targeted type of phishing tactic, it continues to prove successful even against intelligent, detail-oriented users. It's important that you pay close attention when sharing files, clicking links, or responding to requests for information to ensure your data is going to the right place and the right audience. Here are some of the easiest ways to recognize a fraudulent request.
How to Eliminate "Easy Ways In"
Apply security patches: Attackers are always looking for the simplest way to get their job done — that is, to get unauthorized access to accounts, systems, or data. One of the top ways they can do this is by exploiting a known vulnerability in a computer system or software. Patching is the process of applying security-related software or operating system updates, and it's a larger piece of the security puzzle than you may realize. When you skip an update or continuously press that "Remind Me Later" button, you're leaving a metaphorical "hole" for a cybercriminal to find and take advantage of. Making an effort to learn why a new update has been released and applying security-related updates in a timely manner will close those gaps.
Use strong passwords: Passwords, again, are like the keys to your kingdom. Make them complex & more difficult to crack, and keep a secure database of your complex passwords rather than reusing a chosen few. While adapting to the Password Manager lifestyle can be a hurdle at first, it can quickly turn into a lifestyle improvement and a must-have tool for any savvy digital consumer.
When it comes down to it, being your own cybersecurity hero in your daily digital life can make an impact in every place you "log on". By following these best practices, you can own your role in cybersecurity and strengthen your defenses against a world of cyber threats.
If you're looking for ways to increase individual security within your organization, reach out to us to learn more about Security Awareness Programs and minimal-disruption security tools for your users and endpoints.