people problem

Security Isn’t a Technology Problem. It’s a People Problem.

September 13, 2017 | By

It’s easy to think about cybersecurity as a technology problem, especially since that is where it often rears its head. Human beings don’t get hacked; machines do. Right?

Well, the truth is that people are always at the center of both your attack surface and your defense posture. Attackers often use social engineering to crack through even the best technical defenses. And your employees, who are standing between you and an attacker, may not know what to look for, which can handicap your security posture. This isn’t their fault; it’s often just the reality, especially for small and midsized businesses.

While it’s true that humans are the biggest target in a company, we at Strongarm feel that humans are also a source of hope. By changing your paradigm and building a corporate culture that’s security prepared, we think that you can keep your organization operating and safe from successful attacks.

Security Can’t Be Solved with Technology Alone

As a company that makes technological solutions for online security problems, you might not expect us to have this perspective. But we think it’s important to be pragmatic and realistic about the world we live in. As much as we’d like to believe that technological solutions can prevent every potential mishap and malware infection, that’s just not reality.

In some cases, technology can actually make things harder. Heard of alert fatigue? This is what happens when you install a beeping box or software designed to alert you to any potential threat. It will go off 24/7 and drive you nuts, and eventually you’ll start ignoring the alerts. How could you possible review them all? How would you even begin to sort signal from noise?

Even modern solutions that claim to use machine learning (this is often a stretch…) or complex algorithms to show you only the alerts that matter, often get it wrong. You should recognize the fact that you can’t solve security problems with technology alone. It requires a combination of intelligent, fine-tuned tools and a robust human shield (which we’ll discuss more below.)

How to Change Your Organization’s Security Psychology

The first step is to recognize and begin to change your organization’s psychology around security.

You need to change your organization’s security psychology from the inside out. That starts at the top. Start conversations with your executives about current types of phishing attacks. Give them one-on-one insights on what kinds of attacks are being perpetrated against businesses like yours. Be sure to couch it in terms they understand. What if your competitor paid an attacker to steal a bid from a salesperson? What would accounts payable do if they got a forceful email from the president of the company to wire money? Talk to them about changing policies and processes, not just technical solutions.

IT and security departments should reinforce these conversations by spending time educating everyone in the company about how to spot phishing and other social engineering attacks. (Here are some tips on how to do this.) Your C-level and leadership team should also regularly reinforce to their teams that security is a priority for keeping the business alive and healthy. This pushes responsibility throughout the organization and opens up conversations with both leadership and the IT team.

With these two simple activities, we think you can change the psychology of your organization around security, but it will require sustained and effective communication around the importance of this discipline. This discipline will yield you big dividends – saving you time and your organization reputation by preventing an incident before it happens.

Turn Your Weak Points into Your Strongest Defense

Yes, people are often the weakest point in your organization. But you can also turn them into your best line of defense. Security needs to be everyone’s job, especially in light of today’s security talent crunch. Because, as this excellent article put it, “If security isn’t part of someone’s job, that doesn’t make them neutral. It results in them working against us.”

While you may not be able to stop every errant click or accidental download, educating and training your workforce is a good first step. For example, check out Strongarm’s partnership with KnowBe4, which provides on-the-spot phishing education when a user clicks on something bad.

Beyond this type of user education, invest in tools that require low maintenance from your already time-strapped team members. A tool like Strongarm can not only stop malware threats before they get anywhere near your network, but can quickly eradicate any infections that do make their way in. We empower your people with tools that drastically reduce your risk.

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