In the era of digital transformation, our understanding of conflict has evolved. The once-defined battlegrounds have expanded beyond physical borders, extending into the vast realm of cybersecurity. Cyber threats have surged, and those orchestrating them have grown increasingly sophisticated. In this digital landscape, it’s not just organizations’ financial or operational well-being at stake; the effects reach deeper, touching the individuals at the core of these entities—the employees.
This article delves into the personal experiences and challenges faced by these unsung heroes who stand on the front lines in our digital age. Join us as we explore the evolving digital landscape and the remarkable individuals who strive to safeguard their organizations against the ever-present threat of cyber-attacks.
Understanding Insider Threats
When we envision a potential cybersecurity menace, the image that often comes to mind is that of an obscure hacker operating from some remote, distant location. However, the actual danger may be closer than you think, perhaps even right beside you. These threats, commonly referred to as insider threats, present a substantial challenge within the cybersecurity domain.
In essence, insider threats can be categorized into two distinct groups: malicious and accidental in nature.
- Malicious insider threats emanate from individuals who consciously exploit their privileged access to harm the organization. This could involve scenarios such as a discontented employee discreetly leaking sensitive information to a competitor or a disgruntled staff member deliberately compromising the company’s systems.
- In stark contrast, accidental insider threats are devoid of any malicious intent. These incidents occur when employees inadvertently compromise the organization’s security. Such actions may include something as simple as falling prey to a deceptive phishing link, utilizing easily guessable passwords, or unintentionally sharing sensitive data on insecure platforms.
Crucially, it is essential to bear in mind that not all insider threats are deliberate. Many can be attributed to negligence, lack of awareness, or plain human oversight.
The rising of cybersecurity threats
Mental Health Awareness Week, which took place from September 26 to October 2 this year, sheds light on the critical connection between stress, anxiety, and the world of cyber security. Recent studies reveal that these psychological factors play a significant role in cyber security incidents. Notably, it’s not just organizations’ digital well-being at risk; these incidents also cast a shadow on the overall well-being of those affected by them.
In the past two years, the global education and research sector has witnessed a concerning surge in cyberattacks, with a 114% increase in monthly incidents. Remarkably, the regions of Australia and New Zealand have been the most heavily targeted, according to the “Cyber Attack Trends: 2022 Mid-Year Report.”
This underscores the growing importance of what’s often referred to as the ‘human firewall.’ In today’s landscape, your first line of defense is the human element. Now more than ever, vigilance and awareness are paramount to ensure the security and well-being of your organization.
Reducing Cybersecurity Risks: Practical Steps for Everyone
Cybersecurity threats are not an issue that can be solely managed by IT experts. We all have a role to play in mitigating risks. Organizations can take a proactive stance to enhance their cybersecurity and overall safety. Here, we provide practical tips to prevent cyber attackers from finding vulnerabilities, along with guidance on how to respond to a cybersecurity incident.
Stay Vigilant – Trust Your Instincts
Scenario: You receive an email with a suspicious attachment from an unknown sender. It claims to be urgent and asks for your personal information.
Action: When something appears suspicious, it’s crucial to trust your instincts. Instead of hastily reacting, pause and consult your IT provider or support network. Scammers often rely on urgency, but it’s important to raise the alarm.
Report, Don’t Bury Your Worries
Scenario: You inadvertently click on a link in an email that appears legitimate but have second thoughts about its authenticity.
Action: If you’re worried about any cybersecurity-related activity, such as clicking on a questionable link, do not bury your concerns. Promptly report it to your IT provider or the appropriate authority, such as N4L. Reporting concerns is a proactive step towards addressing potential threats.
Verify Suspicious Phone Calls
Scenario: You receive an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be a representative from a tech company, asking for personal information.
Action: In cases where you receive unsolicited or suspicious phone calls, take control of the situation. Politely say, “I’m currently busy, but I can call you back later today. May I have your contact number”?
Legitimate callers will provide their contact details, while illegitimate ones are likely to hang up or refuse to share their information.
Create a Culture of Cybersecurity Reporting
Scenario: A colleague falls victim to a phishing email but is hesitant to report it due to embarrassment.
Action: Cybersecurity incidents can happen to anyone, and it’s vital to create a culture where staff and students feel comfortable reporting such incidents. Encourage people not to handle incidents in isolation. Reporting these events not only helps the individual but also safeguards others from experiencing the same situation. Emphasize that there is no need to feel embarrassed as scams are a common occurrence in the digital age.
Recovery and Support After a Data Breach
Encouraging Open Communication
Scenario: A data breach has occurred, and employees are understandably stressed and anxious about its implications.
Action: Employers should encourage employees to reach out and have open discussions with their line managers. This allows for the creation of personalized arrangements to address specific concerns. By facilitating these conversations, employers gain a better understanding of how individuals are affected by the situation, enabling them to provide targeted wellbeing support. This support may include Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), regular check-ins with managers, and wellbeing-focused discussions.
Extending Support Beyond the Individual
Scenario: In severe cases, a data breach may have far-reaching consequences not only for employees but also for their families.
Action: Organizations should consider going above and beyond by extending support to the families of affected employees. This acknowledgment of the broader impact of a data breach helps create a support system that looks after employees’ relationships and overall way of life.
By implementing these strategies, employers can demonstrate their commitment to their employees’ wellbeing and provide effective support during the challenging aftermath of a data breach.
In this digital era, the landscape of conflict has expanded beyond traditional boundaries. Cyber threats are on the rise, affecting not only organizations but also individuals at their core – the employees.
We explored various facets of cybersecurity, from insider threats to practical risk reduction strategies. Emphasizing the vital role of individuals in bolstering digital defenses, we’ve shed light on the importance of supporting employee wellbeing, especially in the aftermath of a data breach.
As we progress, let’s remember that safeguarding wellbeing is just as crucial as securing our digital frontiers.