What is a human firewall?
In cyber security, a firewall is software that is designed to prevent network intruders. Thus, a human firewall is just tech lingo for training employees to help secure the network, at all levels of employment. The emphasis should be on all levels of employment – because even managers and top-level executives are prone to mishaps.
In this article, we will cover how to build a human firewall for your business, and engage employees in being part of the company’s security.
Why build a human firewall for your business?
A study by Snow Software which gathered responses from 3,000 participants found that many employees completely ignore the advice of their IT department, including management. Some interesting statistics from the study:
- 33% of interns do not seek permission from IT to download software on company devices.
- 57% of company executives completely sidestep IT.
- 81% of employees admit to accessing content on work devices without IT permission
The most interesting takeaway here is that an alarmingly high percentage of executives feel IT is beneath them, while 93% acknowledge that “unaccounted and unmanaged technology causes business issues”.
So, as we said. Creating a human firewall should be spread across all company levels, beginning from the top of the company. For more information, check out the Inspired eLearning course on employee firewall training for topics which you should be aware of.
How to create an effective human firewall?
Educate employees on the risks: First, you cannot expect employees to automatically be experts in cyber-security. If they were, they’d be working in the IT department! However, you can inform and educate employees on the various risks and common scams out there.
Together with your IT department, create a security handbook for your employees which covers security protocols. Try to keep it simple, with plenty of graphics rather than long paragraphs of text, which employees are apt to forget.
Get your employees personally invested in company security: Help your employees to become engaged in security through quizzes, seminars, and perhaps even risk assessment. Announce rewards for employees who discover security vulnerabilities.
You should also inform employees exactly why cybersecurity is so important. Explain to them the importance of protecting customer data, how data breaches can bankrupt companies, and how jobs are at stake. Some statistics you can share with employees:
- The average phishing scheme can cost SMBs up to $1.6 million in damages.
- 30% of phishing emails are clicked on by employees, according to Verizon.
You don’t want to dramatize the situation, but encourage your employees to remain alert to possible threats.
Monitor compliance: A human firewall is only effective when all employees are engaged in making it work, including management. You should have systems that will track compliance regarding password changes, critical system updates, and employee perception of security protocols.
Furthermore, you should be able to identify careless and negligent employees, such as employees who post sensitive data on social media, or undertake malicious actions against the company, such as intentionally installing backdoors and keyloggers on company devices.
While we talk a lot about training employees, always remember that security protocols apply to management as much as everyone else. In fact, a compromised executive’s account is potentially infinitely more harmful than mid-level employees, due to how much company data an executive has access to.
So when creating a human firewall for your business, just remember. Make it easy and simple to follow, always stay updated on the latest threats, monitor compliance, and set the example from the top-level downwards.