IT Security and the impact on workforce culture

IT Security has been one of the most critical and serious issues faced by businesses across the globe over the past few years. And with the continued growth of the Digital Age, we are becoming increasingly dependent on connected devices, leaving us progressively more exposed and vulnerable to security attacks.

We’ve all heard the cases of high-profile attacks from the likes of Yahoo, NSA, TalkTalk and others that have been all over the media recently and there are little signs of them easing anytime soon. With the threats continuing to intensify, business leaders are taking security concerns more seriously than ever before, moving cybercrime to the top of the C-Suite agenda. This is reflected in our latest Tech Cities Job Watch Report which revealed a surge in demand for IT Security professionals by 46% in the past year.

Workforce security risk

One of the biggest challenges organisations face is ensuring the security measures and processes employed balance the needs of the business with the requirement to protect sensitive information from continuously evolving threats. That said, with the industry reporting a widening skills gap and increased competition, employers are under more pressure to recruit the right security personnel to defend against these attacks.

However, what’s important to remember is that it’s not just external factors that pose a risk when it comes to IT Security. Often the workforce is a security risk, inadvertently leaving the door open to attacks. The damages caused can be just as severe, if not worse, as an external breach – not only having a negative impact on a company’s culture, but often damaging reputation and customer confidence.

Internal threats can be caused by a number of factors including:

  • Basic human error: in relation to data management, including misplaced USB sticks, inadequately secured devices and sending data to others without checking their security status
  • Lack of awareness: around sharing passwords and other information that could be sensitive, as well as not being cautious about opening web links in suspicious emails

Management must take a lead

For these issues to be resolved, IT Security needs to be owned by the C-Suite, rather than being isolated as part of the IT function. Management should be actively involved in the creation of appropriate IT security policies, as well as ensuring that they become integrated in the organisation’s culture.

Education is also an important element of this transformation. Looking to plug the gaps, it’s important for employers to upskill existing employees, as well as investing in new recruits. Managers need to enable their workforce to broaden their knowledge base so they have the ability to understand the drivers and needs behind the key business requirements, as well as equipping them with the right tools to defend against future attacks.

This can be done in several ways, some of which include:

  • Implementing internal training and development opportunities
  • Encouraging the workforce to experiment with new technologies
  • Hiring contractors with the aim of transferring their skills
  • Investing in security specialists who can weave policies and necessary learning into the culture of the organisation

Keeping up with emerging and zero-day threats will continue to be a challenge for companies, particularly with the rapid changes in technology. Of course some challenges can be anticipated but many cannot. IT Security must be at the fore of an organisation’s strategy to defend against any potential attacks and the resulting fallout.

Download the latest Tech Cities Job Watch report to find out more.