It is often said that the employees that make up a business are its greatest resource, and this is essentially true. Employees drive the company and are a huge part of its growth and success.
That said, employees are humans and can directly influence business in a positive or negative way. According to IBM, human error is the main cause of 95% of cybersecurity breaches. This is why it is important to harness the positive changes employees can bring to cyber security in business.
If organizations could remove human error as the weakest link in cybersecurity, based on the above statistics 19 out of 20 cyber security breaches wouldn’t have occurred. With every sector across the world affected by an increasingly hostile threat landscape, companies must turn to their employees to augment traditional security solutions, in what is being called a human firewall.
In the past, a traditional firewall was enough to keep cybercriminals from accessing systems and preventing data loss. Today, malicious actors are manipulating employees to get around traditional firewalls and security systems, with 83% of organizations reporting experiencing phishing attacks in 2021 and an additional six billion attacks are expected to occur in 2022.
Employees today need to be equipped with knowledge and education to combat hackers. Working with them to build a resistant and knowledgeable human firewall is the best way to do so.
What is a human firewall?
Firewalls are used to manage cyber threats and prevent cyber attacks by filtering and monitoring incoming and outgoing network traffic and are a vital part of an organization’s security system. Human firewalls do the exact same thing - train employees and arm them with the knowledge and tools to identify and prevent cyberattacks. The human firewall is based on ongoing Security Awareness Training.
The biggest challenges for human firewalls
Cybercriminals are relentless with their attempts to access sensitive data. Organizations are falling victim to ransomware attacks every 11 seconds, and protecting sensitive information is an increasing concern for any company or organization. There are several different types of threats that can impact a human firewall, including:
- Phishing attacks: A phishing attack exploits human vulnerabilities by using fraudulent emails to get victims to click on links or open attachments.
- Malware: Malicious software is used to cause damage or disable networks and systems. It can be distributed through phishing emails, social media sites, and websites.
- Human error: As mentioned, human error is the leading cause of security danger to organizations. Human error can be the result of carelessness, lack of knowledge, or clicking on the wrong link. Cybercriminals can take advantage of human error through phishing and social engineering.
Human error is the primary reason why data is compromised. Having an effective human firewall is therefore crucial. Phishing and social engineering attacks typically exploit human weaknesses. Because cyber attackers are becoming more imaginative and resourceful than ever before, organizations must provide their employees with the skills to recognize and respond to these assaults. Companies and organizations who offer cybersecurity solutions with security awareness training built-in can support their clients to achieve a successful human firewall.
The principles behind a human firewall
A human firewall is an example of the ‘culture of security’, a security mindset that goes across the whole organizational workforce to encourage security-first thinking as a priority.
This is crucial because it makes taking security precautions and being security-aware second nature. Security can be turned into a cultural norm by a human firewall. To create a human firewall, it is vital to consider the following principles:
The first step in building a human firewall is to start creating a cybersecurity culture from day one. Employees from the top down should be involved to take part in security awareness training. The onboarding process of new employees should include cyber security awareness training, and those employees that work from home should always be encouraged to take part.
Cybersecurity awareness training
Through robust cybersecurity awareness training, employees learn to recognize a cyber-attack, such as a phishing email campaign, and take the right actions to prevent it from becoming a successful breach. The more employees that are engaged and aware of their role in protecting the business, the stronger the human firewall becomes.
Use the right training tools
According to this research, brain activity is 68% higher and training has more impact when employees are having fun and are engaged in the learning process. This means choosing the right security awareness training program will avoid situations where employees are overwhelmed with security jargon and the antipathy that often comes with training sessions of any kind.
The goal of any security training awareness is to change human behavior. This can best be achieved by providing engaging training experiences that utilize cutting-edge software, gaming-style sessions, and binge-worthy video content. An engaging, informative, and interactive training experience is the best way to deliver security awareness training that will stick and encourage employee commitment to the program and become part of the security-first culture.
Keep them informed
Keeping employees informed about the latest threats and how to protect themselves is also crucial in honing their understanding of why their participation in a human firewall is important.
Employees can see the benefits of adopting cybersecurity best practices if they are shown how certain cybersecurity-friendly behaviors affect day-to-day business operations. Can malfunctioning systems in the company cause employees to lose productivity, wages, or revenue? If so, presenting precise information about potential consequences may help them recognize the value of adhering to cybersecurity best practices.
Provide the tools to prevent data breaches
A human firewall must be equipped with the proper processes and tools to defend against data breaches. Data breaches are not just a security issue but also a compliance and privacy issue. A human firewall can be strengthened by establishing firm security policies that cover a range of issues, including password protection, email security, and social media engagement. This ensures employees are always aware of the ways they can protect their organization’s systems and data.
An organization must have the proper tools to ensure that it is adequately protected. Data protection software, network security monitoring tools, encryption tools, antivirus software, and vulnerability scanning tools are all important security tools. If you want to equip your clients with security awareness and compliance tools for their best cyber security work, consider ThreatAdvice’s Breach Prevention Platform as a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that includes security awareness training, continuous vulnerability scanning, and more.
Regularly test the human firewall
Phishing tests are a good method of ensuring employees remain engaged in business security. ThreatAdvice is a great tool for conducting phishing tests to see whether employees are aware of phishing dangers and how to defend against them.
ThreatAdvice’s quarterly phishing simulations provide an individual employee risk level scorecard where employees’ security risk to the enterprise is based on data from an actual world test. The ThreatAdvice Company Threat Plan provides comprehensive risk and health assessment for clients, so they can address the vulnerabilities that are identified in both the workforce and their systems.
Keep education ongoing
Many firms only provide security awareness training once or twice a year, but continuous human firewall education is necessary. The nature of cybercrime is constantly evolving, which requires the people who make up a human firewall to be well versed in the latest cyber threats. Security awareness training should be accessible and frequent, to maintain company-wide knowledge of phishing, security hygiene, and scams. Doing so will close any gaps in the human firewall that may open over time.
Create a human firewall
Building a robust human firewall can be challenging, but it is an essential part of supporting organizations to mitigate security risks. With ThreatAdvice’s Breach Prevention Platform MSPs can provide and oversee customer cybersecurity with a comprehensive solution that takes into account the human element. Contact ThreatAdvice today for more information on how your MSP can secure your customers and enhance your security offering.