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Why the C-suite must not be exempt from cyber defense training

31 Jan 2018

The most effective way organisations can prepare for legislation compliance, particularly in the case of Australia's data breach notification and the EU's GDPR is to ensure its processes and tools are strong enough to stop hackers, according to Aleron.

Those hackers may seek unauthorised access to customers’ personal information. As such, organisations and employees should be aware of their security policies and they should communicate responsibilities.

Aleron director Alex Morkos says that when staff don’t know their responsibilities or their security policies to help keep their business secure, it is a major problem.

“This means either these organisations are trusting their continued ability to operate to luck, or their employees are simply unaware of what the organisations are doing to stay safe from cyber attacks,” he explains.

Social engineering schemes such as phishing are not only targeting employees, but top-level executives such as CEOs.

Aleron explains: These phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated and hard to detect at first glance. For example, the CEO might receive an email that looks like it’s from a reputable source, asking the CEO to re-enter their password. Once that’s done, the hacker now has all the credentials they need to enter the network and steal information, sabotage operations, or set the stage for a future attack.

Those high-ranking professionals make worthy targets for hackers because of the information they possess or the mission-critical systems they can access.

However, some C-suite executives do not think they need training or education to spot attacks – this may be because they are too busy with operations, or because they don’t think they would ever fall for an attack.

“This is a risky approach because of the increasing frequency, prevalence, and sophistication of these attacks. All senior business leaders must insist on receiving appropriate training to avoid the nightmare scenario of accidentally compromising their entire business. With the consequences of attacks being far-reaching and, potentially, expensive, security is no longer an IT-only concern. Rather, it’s now a boardroom issue that demands attention at the highest levels,” Morkos notes.

He adds that employees are also fallible targets and can be the top risk factor in organisations.

“A business can have the most advanced security technology in place but if its employees don’t abide by security policies and processes, it will be easy for malicious hackers to get around the technology barriers. All it takes is for an employee to click on a suspicious link, provide their password to a third-party, or insert an infected USB stick into their laptop and the entire organisation could be compromised.” 

“Good corporate security culture starts from the top and trickles down. C-level executives and other business leaders must show their teams they are committed to security. They must then invest in ongoing education for themselves and their staffs to keep the organisation safe. This issue has never been more urgent as the threat landscape continues to expand and worsen. Companies must act now,” Morkos concludes.

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