Nowadays, businesses of all sizes are integrating advanced technology into their daily operations. However, as organizations focus on bolstering their digital infrastructure, they often overlook one potential vulnerability: the human factor. Specifically, their hiring choices. The employees you bring into your organization can either fortify your cybersecurity posture or unintentionally weaken it. It's crucial to understand how hiring decisions can expose your business to cyber threats.
1. Insider Threats
According to numerous cyber security studies, insider threats – whether malicious or unintentional – are one of the primary sources of breaches. Employees, particularly those who bear grudges or are dissatisfied, can easily become internal adversaries. They have inside knowledge of the organization's systems, procedures, and data, making it easier for them to circumvent security measures or leak sensitive information.
When hiring, it's crucial to conduct thorough background checks, not just for criminal history, but also for any indicators of potential risks, such as a history of job-hopping, suspicious gaps in employment, or signs of financial distress.
2. Lack of Cybersecurity Awareness
A lack of cyber security training and awareness is akin to leaving the front door of your home open. Employees who are not well-versed in the basic principles of cyber security can inadvertently expose the organization to risks. Simple mistakes, like clicking on a phishing link or using weak passwords, can have severe ramifications.
When hiring, prioritize candidates who demonstrate a basic understanding of cybersecurity or are willing to undergo training. For roles that handle sensitive data, consider candidates with certifications or formal education in cybersecurity.
3. Inadequate Onboarding Processes
Once a candidate is hired, the onboarding process is the next line of defense. A robust onboarding protocol that emphasizes cybersecurity can significantly reduce risks. Employees should be educated on the company's security protocols, data handling procedures, and the importance of frequent password changes. If the onboarding process is rushed or neglects these areas, even the most qualified candidates can inadvertently expose the organization to threats.
4. Hiring for IT and Security Roles
While every employee can play a role in an organization's cybersecurity, those in IT and security roles bear the most responsibility. Making hiring mistakes in these departments can be especially detrimental. Ensuring that these candidates not only have the requisite technical skills but also the integrity and professionalism to manage the organization's digital assets is paramount.
5. Turnover and Offboarding
Another aspect of hiring that can impact cybersecurity is turnover. High turnover rates can lead to issues like orphaned accounts – accounts that remain active long after an employee has left. These accounts can be exploited by malicious actors or former employees with ill intentions. Having a robust offboarding process that includes deactivating accounts and retrieving company-owned devices is just as critical as the onboarding process.
The potential cyber risks associated with hiring decisions underscore the importance of a holistic approach to cybersecurity. It's not just about firewalls, encryption, and intrusion detection systems; it's also about the people you bring into the organization, how they're trained, and how they're managed throughout their tenure.
As organizations navigate the digital landscape, it's crucial to recognize that the employees they hire can significantly influence their cybersecurity posture. By making informed hiring choices, providing thorough training, and ensuring robust onboarding and offboarding processes, businesses can mitigate potential risks and foster a secure digital environment.