7 Steps to a Successful Human Firewall

By Daniella Balaban
image February 01, 2022 image 5 MIN READ

A human firewall is a security team composed of well-trained and highly engaged individuals. They act as the first line of defense against cyberattacks and can be critical to the success of your organization’s security posture.

The number one cause (52% of all data breaches) of data breaches is human error. This means that having a well-functioning human firewall is more important than ever. Most of the time, phishing and social engineering attacks succeed because they exploit human vulnerabilities. With Cyber attackers becoming more innovative and resourceful than ever before, organizations need to equip their teams to be able to identify and respond to these attacks. 

In 2020 alone, the cost of phishing scams on business email alone (BEC) was estimated at $1.8 billion. Human firewalls can help reduce these avoidable costs by training employees to know the dangers of phishing and social engineering attacks.

What’re The Biggest Threats To Human Firewall?

There are several different types of threats that can affect a human firewall. The most common ones are phishing and social engineering attacks.

7 Steps to a Successful Human Firewall

The firewall is a vital part of the security system that protects your organization from outside attacks. The human firewall does exactly this but from a manual in-person perspective.

 A human firewall makes sure that the data is not compromised and there are no data leaks. We’re not just talking about the front-of-house security guards or IT staff working to keep your data safe.

We mean promoting an always-on approach, a team of dedicated employees who can recognize an attack on social media, prevent a crisis, and stop it in its tracks! Employees who know how to spot so-called potential fraudsters or imposters, employees who know how to identify phishing attempts and avoid them. 

There are a few key considerations to building a successful human firewall.

1- Onboard with security in mind

The first step in building a successful human firewall is to start creating a cybersecurity culture from day 1. The recruitment and onboarding process of a new employee should be one that includes cyber security awareness training. In fact, recruiters should look for security-minded characteristics as part of the recruitment process.

It is essential to have a mix of skills and experience on your team. You need people who can protect your organization from cyberattacks and understand the business.

2- Train them well

How to Build a Strong and Engaged Security TeamOnce you have recruited the right people, it is vital to train them well. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Security training should be an ongoing process and should cover various topics, such as phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, malware, and social engineering.

The training should be engaging, scenario-based, and be done in an environment where the team can feel vulnerable yet empowered. You want to form a team that’s alert, ready to respond, and agile. Attacks come in all shapes and forms if you want your A-team to be responsive and adaptable, create this environment from day one. 

3- Keep them informed

It is also important to keep employees informed about the latest threats and how they can protect themselves. Employees need to be aware of the latest cybersecurity risks and dangers of clicking on links and opening attachments from unknown sources.

It needs to go beyond regular security updates and newsletters, all employees should be encouraged to call out cyber security threats and attempts that happen to them. Perhaps it’s having a dedicated slack channel or reporting system.  The more your organization is aware of the frequency and diversity of these attacks the more you can strengthen and grow your human firewall. 

4- Use the right tools

“A (wo)man’s only as good as his/her tools” The next step is to ensure your organization has and uses the right tools. Create a complete security awareness platform for your employees. Security tools, such as data protection software, Network Security Monitoring Tools, Encryption Tools, Antivirus Software, and Web Vulnerability Scanning Tools are all important considerations. Consider CybeReady if you’re looking for a platform that can simulate phishing attacks, equip your team with security awareness and provide compliance tools to their best cyber security work. 

5- Create your Human Firewall Plan

The next step in building a successful human firewall is implementing strong security policies. Security policies should be clear and concise and cover various topics, such as password policy, email security, and social media usage.

Enforce security policies, and employees should be held accountable for following them.

6- Conduct phishing tests

7 Steps to a Successful Human FirewallAnother way to keep employees engaged in maintaining business security is to conduct phishing tests. Phishing tests are a great way to check if employees are aware of the dangers of phishing attacks and how to protect themselves.

The best way to conduct phishing tests is to use a tool such as Blast by CybeReady.

7- Create a strong cybersecurity culture

The final step in building a successful human firewall is to create a strong cybersecurity culture. A strong cybersecurity culture will help employees stay engaged and motivated.

One way to create a strong cybersecurity culture is not being afraid to talk about cyber security and vulnerabilities. Share regular security updates, conduct phishing tests,  regular employee training and engagement, and focus on team culture. The more people care, feel valued and enjoy what they do, the better your human firewall will be. 

Reward, appreciate and incentivize

At the end of the day when you form a human firewall, you’re asking your team to prioritize cyber security, take time out of their day and add to their list of commitments. You’re asking them to care. Above salary, it’s likely your team wants to be part of an organization with a great culture and a great mission. They want to be part of an approachable workplace, feel that they can grow, add value, and feel valued! Perhaps it’s a cyber guard of the quarter? a financial bonus? a team day out or leaving early on a Friday, Create this culture, reward, appreciate and incentivize.

Building a successful human firewall can be a daunting task, but following these seven steps will help you get started. By selecting the right people, training them well, and keeping them engaged, you can create a security team poised to assist and protect your organization from cyberattacks.

Remember, the key to a successful human firewall is to have a strong cybersecurity culture. Employees should know how badly cyberattacks can impact their business and how they can protect themselves. By implementing strong security policies and a culture that cares you can create the a-team of human firewalls and protect your organization from cyberattacks.