Who’s Responsible for Your Cyber-Security?

Threats to online security are constantly evolving, and organisations are more aware than ever of the risks that it can pose. But no matter how seriously cyber security is viewed by most businesses, many still fall short of properly addressing some of the biggest issues. In fact, recent figures from the government show that over four in ten UK businesses have suffered a cyber breach or attack within the last 12 months.

Two of the most common attacks are due to issues with basic computer hygiene, including fraudulent emails and cyber criminals impersonating organisations. The bigger question isn’t how to secure your business, but who takes ownership of the cyber security process.

Not just the IT department’s responsibility

The responsibility for an organisation’s cyber security often falls on the IT department, which historically dealt with the security of IT systems. At face value this makes sense – as the resident tech experts, the IT department is often best positioned to choose the tools and solutions that make a business secure.

In general, these tools serve the purpose of assessing and encrypting your sensitive information, or blocking malicious activity at the source. But cyber threats can often begin outside the IT department. It only takes a single staff member opening a malicious attachment or clicking on a link in a phishing email for hackers to find a way in, and sometimes even the most sophisticated cyber security solutions can’t prevent this.

This makes it next to impossible for the IT department to keep the entire organisation secure, since they can’t be constantly monitoring every person’s click of the mouse. The onus, therefore, falls on every single staff member within the organisation to be cyber aware.

Do the board need to be involved?

High-profile, malicious attacks, such as WannaCry and NotPetya, have grown increasingly prolific in recent years. The potentially devastating effects of these attacks has meant that cyber security has become an integral facet of an organisation’s risk assessment and management.

But despite the prevalence of these successful attacks, there is often still a lack of understanding amongst some board members when it comes to tackling these threats – in fact, our analysis found that only 30% of senior leadership teams have an in-depth understanding of the risks associated with evolving cyber threats.

Flagging the importance of cyber awareness with the board is therefore essential, particularly to increase their awareness of the most common cyber threats and any potential security gaps. More pressingly, the board often have direct access to the most sensitive data within your organisation, which makes them the perfect target for potential cyber criminals. Arming the board with the tools and knowledge to spot potentially malicious emails, links or attachments – in the same way that you would the rest of the organisation – could help to prevent potentially disastrous consequences. 

It’s everybody’s responsibility

Although cyber security certainly does need to be a board-level concern, it’s still important to remember that the safety of your organisation is everybody’s responsibility. As a security and technology expert within the business, you have an integral role in ensuring that everybody’s knowledge is up to scratch.

Thoroughly educating staff on the warning signs to look out for in order to spot a malicious email, or activities that they should avoid when using business devices can greatly improve the overall cyber security of your business. When combined with encryption, and other online security tools, the likelihood of experiencing a cyber attack can be greatly diminished. Cyber security is everybody’s responsibility – make sure that staff have the tools, and the knowledge, to do it properly.

Matt Johnson is Chief Technology Officer at Intercity Technology. With over 25 years’ business and technical experience in providing IT solutions, Matt’s expertise covers the design, implementation, support and management of complex communications networks.