What is a Human Firewall and its Role in Cybersecurity?

A human firewall is a cybersecurity term that is used to describe the concept of using employees as the first line of defence against malicious cyber attacks. Read to find out the benefits as well as how to build one for your business.

What is a Human Firewall and its Role in Cybersecurity?

With rising phishing and malware attacks, businesses should prioritise human firewalls to protect against potential data breaches or security threats. Remote working has also raised the need for businesses to strengthen their awareness as employees are more susceptible to falling victim to security risks due to human error. A human firewall is a great way to do this. A human firewall is a cybersecurity term that is used to describe the concept of using employees as the first line of defence against malicious cyber attacks. It requires training employees to spot and respond to social engineering attacks such as phishing emails and spear phishing attempts.

The role of human firewall in cybersecurity:

Human firewalls play a crucial role in safeguarding sensitive information and interacting with unknown sources. Employees can assist avoid possible breaches and data leaks by becoming familiar with common dangers such as phishing schemes, malware assaults, and social engineering strategies. Furthermore, a robust human firewall can help in the early detection and response to security problems, reducing the effect and severity of a potential breach.

Advantages of having a strong human firewall:

Here are a couple of advantages of having a strong firewall:

  • Increases cybersecurity awareness among employees
  • Reduces the risk of falling victim to cyber attacks
  • Protects sensitive data and information
  • Safeguards the reputation and trust of the organization.
  • Improves security culture within the company 
  • Helps your business comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards
  • Avoids costly fines and penalties
  • Showcases a commitment to data protection and privacy

Common Weaknesses in Human Firewall Protection:

One common weakness in human firewall protection is the lack of awareness and training. Many employees have no idea about the significance of cybersecurity and the risks connected with cyberattacks. Because of their lack of awareness, they are susceptible to social engineering strategies  Employees who have not received sufficient training may unintentionally click on malicious links or give critical information to unauthorised parties.

Another weakness is the use of insecure or easily guessable passwords. Employees frequently choose simple, easy-to-remember passwords, allowing hackers to get access to important systems and data. Employees also sometimes share passwords, which compromises the security of their accounts. Companies have to set strong password standards and encourage staff to choose unique, complicated passwords for each account.

How to Strengthen Your Human Firewall Against Cyber Threats:

Here are some best practices to improve your human firewall:

1. Security Awareness Training: One of the most effective ways to strengthen the human firewall is by conducting regular security awareness training sessions. These sessions should educate staff on the most recent cyber risks, phishing scams, and social engineering techniques. This helps increase your staff's knowledge and awareness.

2. Phishing Simulations: Phishing attacks continue to be a prevalent threat, with cybercriminals using deceptive emails to trick employees into revealing sensitive information. Regular phishing simulations can help staff identify phishing attempts and avoid falling victim to them. Employees who practise spotting strange emails are less likely to fall victim to phishing attacks.

3. Strong Password Policies: Weak passwords are a typical vulnerability that hackers use to gain unauthorised access to systems and data. Making sure to implement strong password policies, such as requiring complicated passwords and changing passwords on a regular basis, can dramatically improve organisational security. You should also urge your team to use different passwords for each account and to use two-factor authentication wherever possible.

4. Reporting Suspicious Activity: Encouraging employees to swiftly report any suspicious activity or security issues is important for building an effective human firewall. Employees should take a proactive role in recognising and mitigating possible hazards by fostering an environment of open communication and responsibility.  Reporting suspicious activity allows you to take action to investigate and respond to incidents efficiently, minimizing the impact on the organization.

5. Invest in Cyber Essentials: Cyber Essentials is a government-backed cybersecurity certification scheme to help businesses of all sizes stay protected online. The certificate provides a set of cybersecurity best practices that businesses can implement to improve their digital security. Businesses have the opportunity to assess their current infrastructure security and compare it to the current Cyber Essentials benchmark standard. Investing in Cyber Essentials is a great way to boost and protect your business from common cyber attacks that not only lead to downtime but can also cause financial harm. At Edmondson's IT Services, we’ve partnered up with Bulletproof, a trusted global cybersecurity organisation, known for their innovative security products and people-centric services, including Cyber Essentials certification.

How to Build a Human Firewall for Your Business:

To build a robust human firewall for your business, start by implementing multi-factor authentication. This additional layer of security requires users to provide two or more forms of verification before gaining access to a system or account. This can include something they know (such as a password), something they have (such as a security token), or something they are (such as a fingerprint). By requiring multiple factors for authentication, you can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorised access to sensitive company data.

As we mentioned above, employees should also be trained on the latest cybersecurity threats, phishing scams, and social engineering tactics. This helps provide your staff with the knowledge and tools they need to protect themselves and your company.

It is also important to enforce strict security policies and procedures. This includes updating software and systems on a regular basis, restricting access to sensitive information to just those who need it, and monitoring network activity for any signals of strange behaviour. By taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity and implementing best practices throughout your business, you can foster a culture of security awareness and resilience, thereby protecting your company against cyber threats.

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