Today’s technological advancements are incredibly fast-paced, and security has become central for companies wanting to benefit from what technology has to offer. The Covid-19 pandemic completely revolutionized work as we knew it. Remote work became the only alternative in many sectors to keep businesses open and functioning even if in a more limited manner.
The Remote Work Challenge
Despite improvements on the pandemic front, 2021 did not see a complete return to pre-pandemic work conditions and it’s estimated that more than 50% of workers still work remotely. Even if returning to work is now possible, both employers and employees prefer the remote work option or a hybrid version of work assignments.
Undoubtedly, hybrid solutions can offer improvements in both life quality and working conditions, but with certain advantages also come to a variety of challenges. Remote work presents one of the most significant security threats to any company.
HR executives and departments are now asked to manage people working from multiple locations and in various time zones. Working far from the brick-and-mortar office, especially when workers are HR team members, will challenge keeping employee records and sensitive data secure.
Cybersecurity is increasingly center stage with technological advancements and the expansion of digital work. IBM commissioned a study that shows that in 2021, data breaches in the U.S. cost approximately $4.24 million and that remote and digital work were contributors to this trend. With the alarming rise in cybercrime, companies are expanding cyber security, although many issues are directly linked to physical security concerns as well.
Human Resource teams must likewise be front and center in the fight to protect employee and company data. Theft of company data and employee identity theft can inflict financial damage on all involved, make employee retention difficult, and negatively affect recruitment. HR must work side by side with IT personnel to train employees properly in cybersecurity methods and responses when attacked. Major challenges include:
The Use of Chatbots by HR
Chatbots are increasingly being used for both recruitment and employee interaction, but they bring security risks. Web browser caches and server log files can expose sensitive data sent via Chatbot. Criminals may compromise a company’s chatbot or create fake ones.
Accidental Employee Mistakes
Employees, especially remote workers that do not follow good security practices can involuntarily compromise sensitive data. Insecure networks and outdated security systems place companies further at risk for breaching what should be secure data.
Malicious Employee Intent
Unfortunately, breaches can be facilitated by a company’s employees.
HR Digital Systems
Phones, tablets, laptops, or any mobile device used by HR personnel are vulnerable to breaches of passwords, SQL injection, unauthorized apps, and unencrypted software.
External Attempts of Hackers
Phishing, malicious hacking, and social engineering are but a few of the tools used by cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive data.
Security is no longer a luxury but critical to a company’s success. Whether you use POS systems in your retail business, a warehouse that has smart machines, or a service-oriented business, you are susceptible to cyber-attacks. Humans are inevitably the weak link in the security chain due to weak passwords, email phishing, or unverified applications for data storage.
The most vulnerable entry point for cybercrime is a company’s employees. While undoubtedly, the IT specialists will decide what kind of hardware and software to acquire, it’s up to HR to ensure that employees have all the proper knowledge and tools to reduce any cyber security risks. A business’s cyber security will only be as effective as its most careless employee.
“Returning to the Office” - Advanced Security Strategies
For those employees that do return to offices and businesses, business facility safety and security solutions are just as vital as cyber security. Until recently physical and data systems were operated independently. These two aspects can no longer be viewed as individual security challenges. Yet while offering solutions for beefed-up security, work environments must remain pleasant and positive rather than reducing the workplace to resembling a prison atmosphere.
Many physical security systems likewise are at risk for hacking. Any system that depends on an internet connection is at risk of hacking. This includes mobile smart devices, video security management, and key card door locks.
Where are new security technology trends heading and what will they encompass?
Managing Building and Parking Lot Access
Access to buildings and parking lots can now be managed by cloud-based systems that offer both flexibility and convenience. Smart lock access systems coupled with touchless video visual recognition control offer improved safety for brick-and-mortar facilities using a contactless method. This kind of access control exemplifies the necessary convergence of cyber and physical security teams and methodologies.
Security personnel can program and assign brief access permits to both remote workers and visitors eliminating the need for reception registrations. Aside from the use of key cards, credentials can be forwarded to mobile devices, for easy entrance and people control. All data is cloud controlled for easy referencing and management from a single platform. Securing all principal access points will prevent unauthorized entrances.
Managing Internal Access
With visitors and employees moving throughout company property and buildings, the same system for access management with smart lock doors and video recognition can limit access to specific areas such as restrooms, meeting rooms, locations with sensitive data, and elevators for visitors and employees. These systems not only redirect access but keep a log of who enters and exits and a data-based analysis of how facilities are used.
Remote management of security tools via cloud-based platforms can positively respond to physical security needs. With cloud-based systems, there is no need for a physical server, and these systems allow managing data from any location featuring an internet connection. This translates into less space needed for a physical infrastructure that can be compromised onsite. Cloud management facilitates remote operations and permits immediate response to security needs.
Video Security Management and Authentication
CCTV video management has become progressively more popular and accepted. Now with the integration of smarter technologies, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, video captured by CCTV will benefit from frame-by-frame authentication so that images cannot be digitally manipulated.
Wireless devices extend connectivity enabling constant two-way communication and varying in capabilities from managing smart locks, and smart security, to smart lighting. They can be used for monitoring and sending alerts depending on company needs as well as connecting with facility management tools.
Updates and Maintenance
Automated updates and automatic alerts facilitate more immediate responses to hackers and attacks by cybercriminals. Security credentials can be updated immediately to lessen vulnerabilities as cloud systems offer advanced levels of automation more rapidly. Automation can monitor and control workflows and people flow by integrating cloud-based systems, physical location data, and on-premises security data to meet all security requirements.
MFA or Multi-Factor Authentication
Increased use of personal devices has also incremented attacks. Advanced multiple authentication solutions with several levels of authentication are designed to require more than one verification method to increase protection.
Zero Trust Networking
What is zero trust? Put simply, zero trust is a cybersecurity approach that accentuates the principle of "never trust, always verify." The Zero-trust approach becomes crucial in accepting nothing at face value and verifying all devices and users regardless with only essential authorizations granted. With the introduction of a Zero Trust network, every device or app utilized to connect to the network will be reevaluated at each connection. Users will see the necessity of signed firmware, secure boot, encrypted data, rapid software updates, and secure identity when using a zero-trust network.
Integration of Artificial Intelligence into Security Systems
The integration of artificial intelligence programs in security systems will permit the recognition of specific undesirable behaviors rapidly and alert that they represent security risks. The use of artificial intelligence programs will permit security personnel to analyze specific threats and intervene more quickly.
As technology will influence the way that both physical and cyber security teams operate, what once were different strategies and processes, now require convergence of the two security methodologies. Companies will increasingly face mixed threats where criminals gain cyber access, compromise IT security, and subsequently gain physical access to facilities to damage or steal property.
Security teams, both physical and cyber, will necessarily be working increasingly together to provide shared security strategies and protective measures. As these strategies will inevitably influence work methodology and processes, Human Resources teams will play an important role in guiding and protecting employees along the way, hence the need for HR personnel to be up to date on the latest security technologies available, how they operate, and the role of their employees.
If HR teams dedicate energy and time to security issues and implement procedures and company policy in confronting security risks, their entire business will benefit from a security-minded organizational posture. Security risks affect any kind and size of business. No one is immune. It will be up to HR to effectively communicate a company’s security policies, whether cyber, physical, or a convergence of the two to every single employee.