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How secure is your human firewall?

Worldwide spending on information security products and services is more than $114 billion. But the most secure cybersecurity systems can be undone by a Post-It note. That’s why every business needs a secure human firewall.


What is a human firewall?


A human firewall is our biggest line of defence against cybercrime. But it is also our biggest risk. It’s the relationship between us and technology. It’s what protects us from exposing ourselves to risk when technology appears benign.

Here’s an easy example: Your human firewall is that part of you that says “This is too good to be true” when a mysterious millionaire wants to send you money via bank transfer.

That’s an old scam, but it still works. And today, cyber criminals are devising subtler ways to breach our human firewall. To the ruin of lives and businesses.

Cybersecurity is a numbers game. Criminals only need the tiniest bit of information to do extraordinary things. While cybersecurity software can protect your systems, humans aren’t as good at spotting threats. Because we’re just that: human.

That’s why the human firewall has to be strong.

Why is a human firewall important?

A human firewall is important because everyone who has access to your systems is also a potential vulnerability. And we aren’t just talking people who aren’t “digital natives”.

Whether I’m talking to business leaders as part of my job, and to people in my role as a Youth Worker, it’s surprising that everyone behaves the same way. We all expose ourselves to cyber risk, no matter how tech-savvy we think we are.

Everyone thinks they’re safe and secure online. We trust the coffee shop Wi-Fi. We see no harm in Liking the Facebook page. But as you’ll see in the video below, safety is not guaranteed…

When we use the internet, we leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs everywhere we go. Any cyber criminal can pick up this trail and scam you, or your colleagues, friends and family.

“Every 3 seconds someone suffers from identity theft.”


Cost to businesses

The average cost of a cybersecurity breach to a business is both high and widespread. You don’t only have to consider the material cost and potential fines, but long term factors, too.

According to Deloitte, 30% of consumers said they would stop dealing with a business hit by cybersecurity breach, even if they don’t suffer personally. According to Aviva, after you suffer a breach, 60% of your customers will think about moving. And 30% actually do.

You can’t leave security to technology

We design secure systems that grant access when the correct information is entered at the right time. Technology isn’t smart enough to know the true identity of the person inputting that information. Or what their true intentions are. A human firewall is a layer of physical cybersecurity that can help keep your “secure” systems secure.

How to improve your human firewall

One person cannot maintain the human firewall. It requires everyone in the business to maintain awareness and security.

The benefits & limitations of training

Many organisations and individuals that have fallen foul of ‘phishing’ or ‘whaling’ scams. All of these could have been preventable if the right training and knowledge was in place.

I recently attended an IT forum. There, it was decided that all organisations should be spending the equivalent of between 30-60% of their IT budget on staff training in IT. A good proportion of that should go towards cybersecurity.

Despite this, only 1 in 5 businesses in the UK carries out any form of cyber training. If you ask them about that training, they’ll likely tell you that there’s a policy document. Or there’s something about it in the employee handbook.

This is understandable. I understand that if your business has high staff turnover, or hundreds of staff, rolling out training can is expensive and time-consuming.

In order for someone to “know” something, they need to be told about six times. For larger organisations, 50-minute refresher training every 6 months is not enough to keep staff trained on cybersecurity.

However, training is very important. CEOs and other senior managers are especially in need of training for two reasons:

  • They are the people who are least likely have taken training in the past
  • They are most likely to be the targets of cybercrime

40% of senior managers in a  BAE Systems survey said they lack understanding of their own company’s cybersecurity protocols. But if you’re the boss, you’re an attractive target for cyber criminals.

So, if you can’t train everyone, train your key personnel. But in order to make your human firewall really strong, training isn’t enough.

You need to change the culture.

Prioritise your information

More often than not, your staff are victims, not symptoms of cyber crime. 25% of staff who cause breaches are inadvertent actors. You can protect them by only allowing access to information on a “need to know” basis.

If a company of 100 people only grants personal data to a payroll team of 3, hackers will have a much harder time accessing that information.

Being the human firewall

Being the human firewall means making the right judgement every time you receive an email or decide to connect to a network.

We need to create a culture that is curious and cautious. A culture that rewards people who take the time to pick up the phone and double check with the CEO that the email they sent really was from them.

People need to have accountability if they’re the ones in the hot seat. But, they need to trust that it’s okay to turn to the most senior person in the business and confirm their orders.

It’s all too easy for staff to pass the buck up the line. Especially if requests for assurance are interpreted as belligerence or interfering. In this way, creating a more open office culture can help protect you from cyber attacks.

Challenge your staff to question the norms. It doesn’t just help protect your business. It creates a workplace of innovation and ideas.

Cybersecurity is not an IT problem

Cybersecurity affects everyone. Not just in our professional lives, but in our personal lives too. It’s everyone’s responsibility to stay aware of the threats out there and mindful of danger every day.

That sounds exhausting, I know. But vigilance is key. Cybercrime is evolving and companies are being exposed to new scams every day. When we build a culture that’s mindful of cybersecurity, we can protect ourselves and our businesses more effectively.

ramsac can help you change the way your business thinks about cybersecurity. Speak to us today about how we can help you reinforce your human firewall.

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11:29 22 May 20
Changing IT support providers, like changing lawyers, is not a decision any business takes lightly or frequently. The decision is fraught with numerous questions such as whether the new team will understand my business needs, will it cause teething problems, and more importantly, will the reality match the sales pitch! We took that decision to move to Ramsac in January after ten years with another provider and we have not regretted that choice for a moment. Ramsac are simply great! From the get go we have been very well supported from the front line very helpful telephone support team right up to our relationship manager. We feel that the Ramsac team are very much an integral part of us . What however has driven us to write this review is the fabulous support we have received following a cyber attack this week. Something no business wants to happen but is increasingly a sad factor of modern cyber life. The Ramsac cyber support team were superb and really gave us first class support and guidance through what was frankly a horrible experience. Thank you Dan! Denise Herrington
The HR Services Partnership
The HR Services Partnership
17:59 16 Jan 20
We have worked with Ramsac since 2015. They offer a truly winning formula. We have been delighted by their support at all three levels: our network consultant (Colin) understands our set up and is great when we need to upgrade our infrastructure; we have ready access to our account manager who has been great with supporting our growth; and the helpdesk is always so patient for the day-to-day glitches. Very professional and supportive – thank you team ramsac!
Zoe Brooks
Zoe Brooks
13:02 16 Jan 20
Sam on the support desk is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Every time I have rung with an issue and she has helped the problem has always been rectified smoothly and quickly!
Sarah-Jane Calloway
Sarah-Jane Calloway
16:02 06 Jan 20
Ed spent two days with us following an office reshuffle. He worked to a very high standard and was very helpful, courteous and happy to sort out anything we asked of him!
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Always very helpful and will work hard to resolve any issues you have.
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Great, helpful IT Kings and Queens
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12:37 30 Aug 18
fine bunch
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08:46 06 Dec 17
Excellent managed service provider.
Selom B
Selom B
11:58 10 Dec 16
First Class!! Responsive, knowledgeable, professional and very easy to work with - Ramsac have been a fantastic strategic IT partner for the last few years and I'm sure will continue to be for many years going forward. I would highly recommend them!
Ian Windle - Inspiring Leadership
Ian Windle - Inspiring Leadership
08:53 04 Jul 16
Great IT business, with a powerful management team. Could not recommend them more highly.
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Patrick O'Luanaigh
10:55 01 Jul 16
A truly fantastic IT support company - I can't speak highly enough about them.
Sarah Whitemore
Sarah Whitemore
11:59 20 Jun 16
I have known Dan May and Ramsac for 5 or 6 years now. Dan is such a great guy and really helpful with strategic advice and input on all things IT. He's so approachable and doesn't baffle you with IT jargon. If you are looking to outsource your IT or you have a problem you need help with Dan is definitely the one to ask.
Jonathan Richards
Jonathan Richards
12:14 31 May 16
I've worked with Ramsac for many years and whole heartedly recommend their services. They are always professional, approachable and have the rare skill of making IT understandable. Their can do attitude leaves you feeling that you are in safe hands.
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