Suppose your organization is hacked, and cybercriminals sell large swaths of your customers’ data across the dark web. Or maybe someone in your company fell for a phishing scheme that opened the door for a ransomware attack. In either scenario, your business stands to lose millions of dollars. Yikes.

But who will be held accountable?

If your business is like most, the lion’s share of data protection falls to the CISO. And when something goes awry, they’re the first to shoulder the blame.

But in a time when every employee can put your organization at risk, it’s not fair for the CISO to take the fall. Here’s why.

 

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Employees Have a Lot of Power

Here’s an uncomfortable truth: Every single member of your workforce is a liability to your cybersecurity.

Each employee has the power to make their own decisions with the technology they’re provided, and choose how they’ll behave online. And there’s little your CISO can do to stop those poor choices. They may educate the workforce, teach them how to create a strong password, and even block access to certain sites. But a CISO only has so much control.

For example, your employees could choose to disable the VPN, turn off firewalls, use their corporate login to create an account on an unauthorized site, or fall victim to phishing and social engineering attempts. And in most of these scenarios, a CISO is mostly powerless.

In other words, your employees are your biggest security risk. On the flip side, they can also be the strongest form of protection against cybercrime — but only if you help them gain those skills.

 

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Siloed Data Protection Drives Bad Habits

Imagine a teenager’s parents gift them a brand new car. Then, after they wreck it on a joyride, their parents buy them another one. In this case, they’re not facing any consequences for their actions. If they know their parents will always buy them a new car, they’ll continue to behave recklessly.

Now imagine that, after wrecking the car, they have to get a job to pay for another vehicle. Or they’re never gifted a car in the first place, but tasked with buying their own from the start. In this case, they’re more likely to drive safely and take better care of their car because they know that they’ll be responsible for handling the outcome if something happens.

Of course, your employees aren’t children — they already know actions have consequences. But if they never have to see what happens on the back end (like all the work the security team has to endure when they make a mistake), they’ll likely continue sliding back into their bad habits. This is especially true when following the rules slows them down, or when they perceive security precautions as “overkill.”

When security happens in a silo, it’s easy for employees to disregard it as somebody else’s problem.

 

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Distributing Responsibility Increases Security

As mentioned above, your employees can be your greatest liability or your best protection, depending on how you distribute responsibility. If the CISO and their team are left to clean up all the messes and take all the blame (regardless of where a hack originated), you’re limiting the power of your data protection. Even if you have the most experienced security team and the best security tech, you’re still leaving the majority of the risk in your workforce’s hands.

By democratizing security, you can significantly increase the strength of your protection. Because if every employee is responsible for their actions and tasked with cleaning up their errors, then everyone becomes a guardian against cybercrime.

The bottom line: A CISO alone cannot prevent a hack. As a company, you can (and should) instill a great deal of trust in your employees. And hold them accountable for their actions. But you also need to empower them by breaking down the security silo.

One of the best ways to democratize security is by leveraging actionable threat intelligence. This way, you can identify threats in real-time, determine where they came from, and make sure all employees are actively participating in your cybersecurity strategy.

 

Interested in learning more about what threat intelligence can do for you? Request a demo now!

 

Featured Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash