Workplace Cyber Consultancy

Managing Cyber Risks in the Workplace

Today, one of the most critical risks a company can face is the cyber risks associated with its own employees or contractors.  Companies are confronting an increasingly complex series of cybersecurity challenges with employees in the workplace, including employees failing to comply with established cybersecurity policies, accidentally downloading an attachment containing malware or providing their credentials in response to a phishing scam, or intentionally stealing company information for the benefit of themselves or the company’s competitors by simply copying information to their email or a thumb drive and leaving the company. 

Contractors or consultants with access to company systems can pose these same challenges. To guard against these risks, companies can implement various policies and procedures to address an employee’s tenure, from pre-hiring to post-employment, and can implement many of these same precautions with respect to contractors, consultants, or any other third parties with access to company systems.

Before hiring employees or contractors, companies can ensure they have in place policies and procedures to protect themselves.  Particularly important policies include:  acceptable use of electronic devices and systems; mobile device; data collection and retention; notice and consents for monitoring and collection of information on company systems; and background check policies that permit pre-employment and ongoing vetting of all employees.  Companies should enact enhanced screening and background checks for new hires who will have access to the company’s “crown jewels” and systems that can connect to or access the same, and should require third parties that provide contractors to demonstrate that they are doing the same.

When onboarding employees, companies should use procedures including training, policy review, and key acknowledgements and consents to establish a culture of awareness and compliance.  It is particularly important for companies to complete the following tasks during employee onboarding:  apprise new employees of the company’s expectations regarding protection of confidential information and critical infrastructure (including ensuring that no new employee has brought any confidential information from another company with them); provide a briefing of policies governing employee access to information and those that could implicate employees’ privacy; notify employees that they have no expectation privacy if using personal devices for business purposes; and obtain employee consent to any applicable monitoring. Employees should be asked to execute a non-disclosure agreement and other documents that protect the company’s information, and the executed copies of these documents should be safely stored in the company’s personnel file or human resources system.

Companies can and should also implement parallel procedures for outside directors, vendors, contractors, and third parties with access to company networks and systems.

After employees begin work, companies should regularly assess indicators of any potential issues, including any unusual systems accessed by employees; what documents and information employees are downloading, printing, or emailing; when employees are performing actions on company systems; and any efforts by employees to exceed access privileges or records of failed log-in attempts. 

If a company believes an employee is potentially disgruntled or an insider threat, the employee’s manager should coordinate with other departments—including Legal, Human Resources, and Information Technology—to obtain additional information and plan a course of action.  Investigations can include forensic computer or network searches, preservation of affected systems, and interviews with employees.  While developing the facts, a company should consider when or how to suspend or revoke a suspected insider threat’s access or take additional action against the insider—though beware that taking action against a suspected employee is likely to implicate employment laws in the United States or elsewhere.

When off-boarding employees, companies should take steps to protect themselves.  It is imperative for companies to develop policies and procedures for off-boarding employees that are directed at minimising risks of data leakage.  Exit interviews should be conducted wherever possible; they will allow companies to spot potential problems or identify red flags.

When an employee resigns, a company should decide whether to institute a protocol to remove or limit the employee’s access to confidential information even before an employee’s last day at work. HR should work with IT to audit the employee’s most recent network access and email activity to ensure the employee has not harvested any confidential information.

When the company is preparing to terminate an employee, the company should implement a protocol to protect company confidential information, including reducing employee’s access to networks and systems before or simultaneously with notifying the employee of the impending dismissal.  The same should be done when a contract with a consultant, vendor, or contractor is nearing its end.

All employees who leave the company and all contractors whose contracts end should be reminded of ongoing obligations to protect the confidential information of the company and should be asked to return all company information, documents, and electronic equipment before their last day at work.

Employees can present a significant threat to a company’s business critical information, as can contractors or consultants with access to company systems.  Companies should ensure that relevant departments within the company, such as the legal, human resources, and information technology departments, are coordinating to take steps to protect the company against such threats, including those set forth above.

Cyber Consulting

HR Global Solutions Cyber Consulting is the trusted partner you need to support innovation, today and for tomorrow. Every business is different. HR Global Solutions Cyber Consulting knows that the crucial thing about any business is what is specific to it, and the operational environment it’s working in.

Cyberspace presents a broad range of external and internal threats to your organisation and assets. Following recent high-profile breaches with severe consequences, cyber now heads the risk agenda of many organisations.

Controls are a cornerstone of your defensive strategy. The key challenge is to ensure they do not hinder your organisation or prevent your staff performing their work. Our experienced, multidisciplinary team will review, enhance and replace where necessary existing controls, allowing you to shape and optimise your overall approach and policy.

What makes HR Global Solutions Cyber different? 

A solid, working background in both Human Resources and Cyber Security. We not only have the expertise to assess your team, build a workforce plan and seamlessly fill those staff needs from our pool of top talent, we are well equipped to develop a successful retention initiative that addresses what top Cyber Security staff want and need.

HR Global Solutions Cyber will maximise your company’s performance via a full suite of Human Resources services, customised to meet the unique and competitive needs. We strive to be the leading Human Resources Cyber Security business partner.   We simplify the entire HR process for our clients—from assessment to workforce planning, recruitment, performance management, industrial relations and retention—by strategically assessing needs, streamlining procedures and procedures and help our client cultivate a workforce culture that meets the needs and demands of the organisation.