The importance of human risk management in cyber security

by Sep 13, 2022

Most cyber security experts are aware that humans can be a major factor in data breaches and other cyber incidents. In fact, some reports suggest that over 90% of IT security lapses are caused by human error. The question that enterprises need to ask themselves is how they can leverage improved human risk management to strengthen their overall cyber security posture. 

The answer is a combination of psychology and IT technology, which allows IT teams to measure human risk, effect behavioural change and implement security software that suits the company’s needs. Human risk management must be a core pillar of any cyber security strategy, no matter how big or small the business.

Why human risk management is vital

Psychology is a wide field with many theories of human behaviour. Many of these can be used to predict actions and conduct, which could bring about positive changes. When it comes to human resources and cyber security, it’s essential to secure an enterprise’s digital systems without adding too many extra tasks to the employee workload. The more tasks an IT team has, the more likely errors will start to creep in.

This is where cyber security software and automated systems come into play. They reduce workload and enable employees to focus on their core jobs rather than mundane tasks that can be overlooked. Automated security software should be used to monitor digital systems and keep everything up-to-date constantly.

Profile of a man working on his laptop with large computer screen in background

Everyone has a different tolerance to risk; some avoid it at all costs while others are less concerned about it. For business owners, it is important to balance the risk tolerance of the business with its mission, objectives and obligations. 

The goal of a cyber security strategy is to mitigate the risks that the business is exposed to, including the risk of human error, without adversely affecting operations, employees or the customer’s experience. By using specialised cyber security training and software, security professionals can reduce human risk by enhancing awareness amongst employees and other stakeholders. This also supports brand credibility and affinity with customers.

Training is needed for employees

Expert third-party providers may supply and implement IT security software and training. Security awareness programmes and risk assessments are essential components of a cyber security strategy. It improves employees’ cyber awareness, drives positive behavioural change and supports an improved security culture to ensure that all stakeholders are more conscious of their risk tolerance and exposure.

Risk assessments and employee training enable cyber security teams to identify assets and human resources who may be more vulnerable and thus represent a higher risk to the organisations. In doing so, they can refocus their time, tools and energy on those people and assets that need closer monitoring, mentorship and support to mitigate the associated risks.

Some cyber security experts theorise that there are four categories of employees when it comes to risk management; followers, champions, naive users and shadow agents. The first two are low risk and the last two are high risk.

  1. Followers – This group of people are more likely to follow security protocols and the behaviour that they see around them. They observe posters, internalise educational graphics, watch videos and adapt well to new security practices. They are good at taking instructions and like to be given direction.
  1. Champions – This extremely low-risk group is likely to be small but comprises people who are experts in their fields. They wholeheartedly believe in cyber security and act as champions within a business. They like to be empowered and are great at motivating and helping the followers.
  1. Naive users – This group has good intentions but they do not have the necessary knowledge or self-awareness to be effective in cyber security. They do respond well to training sessions and can be made more aware of their behaviours through these educational sessions.
  1. Shadow agents – This high-risk group is aware of the importance of cyber security and they do possess the knowledge, but they don’t believe that protocols or rules apply to them. This is the group that IT managers need to watch closely as they have the highest risk associated with cyber security.

Grouping employees improves risk management

Establishing groups such as these will enable enterprises to develop more effective cyber security strategies through risk management and behavioural analysis. It is important to note that employees respond better to engaging training sessions and the educational benefits are higher. Behavioural changes are also increased through rewarding progress, rather than disciplining poor performance.

Employees like to feel that they play a vital role in cyber security; they appreciate being responsible for the tasks and want to play a part in the overall system. When used in conjunction with cyber security software and automated services, human risk management can lead to a positive cultural shift within an organisation.

There is a general shortage of cyber security experts in Africa and across the globe. Intelligent software is instrumental in any cyber security strategy and allows IT departments to focus on bigger tasks and end goals. For more information about our various enterprise software solutions, please contact us today.

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At 4C Group of Companies, we strive to effect operational changes and cost savings for customers through our iNSight product and associated services. This product’s main function is to re-purpose and deliver business-critical information to a variety of systems and stakeholders. 

We specialise in information assurance, business assurance, FinTech solutions and a variety of business systems. For more insights into our products and services, check out our blog page or follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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