THE BLOG

Don't Be the Weakest Link in Your Company's Cyber Security Plan

04/06/2015 11:09 am ET | Updated Jun 06, 2015
John Lamb via Getty Images

The other night, after falling asleep and waking up the next morning, I realized I didn't lock the front door to my home. I have locks on the doors, the windows, an alarm system, hurricane shatterproof windows, and two small dogs with a high-pitch bark that could wake the dead; but all that protection won't do me any good if I forget to lock the front door.

I work for a company that has about 20,000 employees. I own a company that has 18. No matter how big or small your company is we all have something to protect. No matter how many layers of security we have in place, people continue to be the weakest link in their company's Cyber security plan.

Let's go back to the front door analogy for a moment. Even though I have all those layers of security to protect my home, if I don't lock the front door then it's all meaningless and I increase my risk to my family -- what I'm trying to protect. The same holds true for us in business everyday, only the front door isn't always physical it is digital too. Our computers, smartphones and tablets lead directly to our company's front door, providing access to anyone who can get in.

Here's a better way of looking at it.

The company we work for stores our personal information -- social security numbers, first names, last names, phone numbers, and addresses. We should have a strong interest to protect that information because if we don't it could mean the loss or theft of our identities. What about our company's confidential information? We want to protect that too because if we don't, it could mean regulatory compliance fines and reputational damage which could seriously impact our company's bottom line. Some people may lose their jobs if our company can't afford to pay us.

Now, I know what your thinking, "Isn't that why we have a Cyber security team"? Yes, but remember our "front door" analogy? We are at the front door everyday, that digital front door. When we power up our computers in the morning, and open our e-mail, sometimes there's a link or an attachment just waiting to be clicked or open, and that link or attachment, whether we realize it or not, is laden with malicious software (a virus or backdoor) that will leave the front door open to our business. So even though we have a security team in place to protect us, if we click that malicious link or attachment, their hard work and the money they invested to keep the company safe, may not prevent the bad guys from getting in.

So, are you that person? Are you the one who will leave the digital front door to your company unlocked today? Are you the weakest link in your company's cyber security plan? No matter how many firewalls and layers of computer protection your company invests in, if we don't remember to slow down and check the locks on our doors, we could put ourselves and our company at great risk. We all have a role to play to help keep our company's safe.

Be careful what you click. Don't be enticed by tempting messages to watch a funny video or see a nude celebrity. And try to be aware of new social, political, and environmental issues since many hackers use those types of events to entice you into opening that front door. Slow down. Read carefully. Who is the sender? Where you expecting this message or phone call (yes, be on the look out for suspicious phone calls too). If you are unsure then stop what you are doing and ask a security minded professional what they think. If you develop these kinds of behaviors then you won't be the weakest link in your company's cyber security plan. You will have kept the digital front door locked, and your personal and company information safe and secure.