Cyber attacks often target employees as a way to access sensitive data or databases, so in order for companies to effectively protect themselves against threats, they need to start within their own teams. The weakest link is the user and it’s often enough to simply trick a user into clicking on a link or downloading a file in order to gain access to a company. For successful strategies, employees need to understand their value in protecting the business and committing to maintaining security. HR and recruitment professionals play a crucial role in this, and they should be a central element of any cybersecurity strategy.
What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the process of reducing the risk of cyberattacks and hacks to the devices used, from smartphones and laptops to desktop computers and tablets. Cybersecurity doesn’t just encompass the devices but also the software and services we access, both at work and at home. An effective cybersecurity strategy aims to prevent unauthorised access to personal information and databases that are stored on our devices.
Cybersecurity is vital as digital devices are such a core element of our lives and businesses, storing everything from banking accounts and contact details to social media accounts. It’s more important than ever to protect cybercriminals from gaining access to data and accounts, and it’s the responsibility of everyone in the business to adhere to online security practices.
What threats do businesses face?
There are numerous ways that HR professionals and recruitment teams can be impacted by cyberattacks. Malware is one of the most common problems, where software intentionally designed to cause damage to a server or computer network is installed.
Businesses are also at risk of ransomware attacks, where an attacker first takes control of the device and encrypts it then, in order for the user to gain access to their device and information again, they have to pay a certain sum of money to the attacker. These have become a common way for attackers to make money and they can be incredibly damaging to businesses.
Insider threats are a common problem for businesses, as cybersecurity specialists Redscan explain: “Insider threats in cyber security are threats posed to organisations by current or former employees, contractors, business associates or other partners. These individuals have inside information on the organisation in question, and may misuse access to networks, applications and databases to wittingly or unwittingly cause damage and disruption and/or erase, modify or steal sensitive data”.
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are also common in the recruitment sector. With this attack, hackers take down websites and email servers, or other internet-based services, to make data inaccessible. Recruitment teams deal with so much personal data from applicants and work with third parties when posting job adverts, so there’s a huge risk of a data breach if their networks or databases are hacked that could impact the business’ reputation but also affect individuals too.
If a recruitment team has its services removed, for example, they’d be unable to operate as users wouldn’t be able to apply for jobs and recruiters would lose their access to basic operational tools. In recent years, cyber attacks within the recruitment sector have been on the rise, because of the vast amount of data available to hackers. For example, in 2018, Whitbread suffered a large-scale data breach within their online recruitment system which impacted brands such as Premier Inn and Costa Coffee and led to contact and biographical data being stolen, putting thousands at risk.
How to encourage better cybersecurity practices
HR and recruitment teams should encourage better cybersecurity practices among colleagues in several ways. The first is to stay up to date with the latest threats. Hackers are continually adapting to new technologies and finding innovative ways to break into systems, so staying educated is necessary to be one step ahead. Another way to do this is to control user access by providing staff with just enough access to software, settings and services to perform their role, ensuring that extra permissions are only given when they’re truly needed.
Make sure you work closely with IT teams to make sure that the cybersecurity policies in place are effective and thorough. These policies and procedures should be accessible to all staff and outlined in a clear user access policy, which should also be given to new staff as part of the onboarding process.
Without the right cybersecurity policies and procedures in place, teams won’t be able to prevent damage caused to their business’ reputation or prevent data breaches affecting confidential information. These gaps provide a way in for potential cyber criminals, so it’s vital that HR and recruitment teams have clear and documented recovery plans in place to protect data and to ensure that there are regular back-ups carried out to reduce the impact of any lost data during a security breach.
Staff need to encourage employees to develop strong password controls and also take remote workers into consideration when they’re developing policies. There needs to be rules in place for staff to follow when it comes to using mobile devices and security measures in place to protect the information accessed or stored outside of the office to keep it safe and secure.
Staff training also needs to be scheduled regularly to ensure that all employees across the company have a good understanding of cybersecurity, data protection rules and procedures. This can encompass the types of threats a user might encounter and how to navigate these risks more effectively. Businesses have a duty of care to protect data and sensitive information, so all staff should receive training to help them achieve this.
The vast majority of responsibility for cybersecurity lies with IT professionals and business owners, but an organisation’s systems and processes will never be completely secure without HR’s input. HR and recruitment professionals work closely with existing and potential employees and, as a result, they’re in a prime position to help the business maintain strong security processes to prevent attacks and minimise the risk of human error or malpractice.