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Cybersecurity in the recruitment world: What you need to know

Sungard Availability Services

Technology is changing everything – we’ve heard it a million times before.

As office space becomes less available and more expensive (and as transport infrastructures groan under the weight of bloated commuting communities), we’re turning to technology to handle our business. And that’s when cybersecurity crops up.

Employees are more mobile, businesses and individuals rely on cloud-based computing, services and data are made accessible anywhere at any time. It’s generally agreed in recruiting circles that technological alternatives to ‘analogue offices’ will mean significant shifts in the landscape. Administrative and secretarial roles will increasingly be absorbed by senior staff who learn to manage those functions themselves, accountancy positions will be automated and, according to 24% of the HR managers interviewed in PricewaterhouseCoopers Workplace Future 2020 survey, one in five staff members will be non-permanent by the end of the decade.

These circumstances will inevitably give rise to more intense points of cybersecurity exposure. Those in work will cover more bases and use a greater range of digital platforms, making them more valuable to the company but also higher risk: they stand as single points of disaster should a cybersecurity issue rear its head.

What do cybersecurity issues mean for recruitment?

Like every other business, big or small, recruitment agencies will find themselves needing to take more serious security measures. But they’ll also find themselves presented with a sizeable opportunity.

Emerging security threats have sent firms of all shapes and sizes scrambling for the right staff to protect their data. Banks are forced to venture beyond financial services to ensure their cybersecurity, turning instead to public sector experts and counter terrorism specialists. Recent reports that women in cybersecurity are better educated than men but poorly represented and underpaid has seen a sudden demand for female security employees.

And with security responsible for 56% of sleepless nights for Chief information officers and IT professionals – closely followed by talent acquisition at 38% – it’s important to know what the market for cybersecurity staff looks like, why it looks that way and how companies can go about improving their systems.

Why do cybersecurity failures take place?

How does a cybersecurity breach happen in the first place? Ultimately there are two main causes of disruption: Technology-based threats like a server outage or network crash, and macro or external shocks such as economic instability, pandemics, terrorism, civil disorder and even flooding, fire or pollution.

The latter kind of disaster is harder control and is responsible for a smaller percentage of failures, but it can be costly and shouldn’t be discounted.

A considerable contribution to the more dominant influence of technology-based threats comes from communications, which forms 10% of all customer demands for disaster recovery. Changes in telecommunications systems means telephony is now subject to the same sort of disruptions suffered by other software, making it a new source of vulnerability.  

What’s the damage?

The financial damage inflicted by data breaches is very real and the figures speak for themselves, with the average cost of a US data breach coming in at a cool $5.85m. For each lost or stolen record containing sensitive information, companies will pay an average of $200, and data costs are only rising: from 2013 to 2014, data costs increase by 15%.

How can businesses protect themselves?

The good news is that reducing the threat is possible, and in some instances the measures are relatively affordable. Here’s what you can do:

  • Prioritise cybersecurity in the boardroom. Leaders need to acknowledge that as organisations digitise, investment in secure systems is key to profit.
  • Improve public awareness. Organisations could be encouraged to take cybersecurity more seriously if increased public awareness means customers demand their service providers prove that data is safely stored.
  • Get the basics right. More often than they’d like to admit, businesses suffer security breaches at the hands of teenagers who have downloaded hacking software, and not highly skilled terrorists. Take care with the fundamentals, or you’ll leave yourself open to attacks from individuals who wouldn’t otherwise pose real threats. Basic resources like 10 Steps, GCHQ’s guidance, are available online for free.
  • Educate your staff. Teach your employees to protect their personal data and devices so that when they arrive in the workplace they’re already used to acting securely at home. It’s a lot cheaper than buying a new firewall.
  • Take small practical measures. Use strong passwords, regularly patch firewalls, and ensure that employees who use personal devices at work install anti-virus software.

Most crucially, though, recruiters can help provide businesses with security experts. A dedicated member of staff might sound like a significant expense, but identifying holes in current systems will save a lot of time and money further down the line. A chief information security officer sets companies back an average of $6.59 per record. And most businesses will find that’s a price worth paying. 

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