Make sure security does not stop your people from getting stuff done!

Cybersecurity is on the list of many organizations’ top priorities nowadays. Obviously, protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of business data is a crucial part of any modern enterprise’s risk management activities. However, in many cases, security measures are making simple things difficult, and hard things even harder. When this happens, users tend to find workarounds, often involving using private cloud services, private devices, or connecting via sneakernets to do their business. If this is the case at your company – you should rethink your approach to security.

Feel locked out by your security policy? Are you prevented from doing your job by the IT department?

What can organizations do to maintain security and allowing people to get their work done?

Security measures need to have a sound basis in the threats you are trying to avoid. This means, you should have at least a basic grasp on what kind of threats you are dealing with, and which measures will be effective in dealing with them. Here’s a 6-step list to how you can achieve that.

  1. Perform a cyber security threat identification to list all threats and sort them as “unacceptable” and “acceptable” based on both impact and credibility
  2. Deal with the threats by designing counter-measures; this can be technology, awareness training and response capabilities
  3. Educate your users on the threats and why it is important to avoid letting adversaries in.
  4. The principle of least privilege is sound – but it should not be interpreted as “no access given unless proven beyond doubt that access is needed”. It means – access shall only be given if it is meaningful for that user to have access, and in cases where this increases the attack surface, ensure the user is educated to understand what that means.
  5. Do not overuse filtering techniques for content. That is the same as inviting sneaker nets where you have no control.
  6. Never forget that technology is there to help people get stuff done, not in order to prevent them from doing anything. If a user needs to do something (e.g. to download and test software from the internet), work with the user to find safe ways to do this instead of being an obstacle.

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