ENGINEERING SECURITY SOLUTIONS FOR THE HUMAN ELEMENT Developing a cohesive IT security strategy can feel like a checklist. Cover all your bases—data security, compliance, vulnerability management—and you’ll be set to address the threats that come your way.

But the truth of the matter is that it can and should be more involved than that, especially when it comes to one of IT security’s biggest targets: your customers. Hackers target the human element with a wealth of convincing scams and spoofs, all designed to manipulate their victims psychologically to extricate sensitive information.

In an increasingly complex digital landscape, the full reach of these schemes extends well beyond business. Because identifying personal information is unavoidably stored on the Internet nowadays, when that information is compromised, the effects can hit home, with issues ranging from a troublesome inconvenience to a serious threat to personal identity, career prospects, and even physical safety.

As digitalization of the modern world encroaches on your customers’ personal privacy, it’s important to make considerations for unconventional situations. Your customers and partners who entrust their data to you will appreciate the depth and breadth of your attention to the human element, if not expect it, given the growing list of costly and effective phishing scams that prey on digital users.

Today, BAI Security is breaking down how maintaining security isn’t just about protecting data—it’s also about protecting people.

A Personal Perspective on Security

For many of us, the digital space is our world, and we don’t think twice about it. We put our names, locations, careers, and life events on social media. We tag ourselves in photos and connect with people we know “in the real.” Most of our applications have location sharing, and our technology is strewn across the Internet of Things. But the intersection of physical and digital worlds raises complex security risks for your customers that aren’t just financial—they can be quite personal.

First off, consider the potential for an interpersonal risk component to your customers’ privacy. While every good IT strategy should protect your customers’ information against hackers, the AP reports your customers’ friends, family, and acquaintances are increasingly likely to commit identity or financial fraud, particularly when they have access to the victim’s credentials or accounts. Much like phishing attacks, these cases can fly under one’s radar when they involve seemingly undetectable methods; in this case, the right credentials used by a familiar but wrong user.

The good news is that there are ways to regulate what seems undetectable. In managing your customers’ digital interactions and transactions, your organization has the opportunity to differentiate between account holders and those using account credentials, much in the same way banks differentiate between account holders and those making a withdrawal. You wouldn’t let a hacker into your system if they filched the right credentials, so examine how might you use that same strategy to identify someone committing fraud.

Secondly, realize that not all customer privacy is equal. For some, supplying personal information required by your security system poses a higher level of risk. This is true for individuals who need to keep their names, locations, or associations covert due to their occupations; among others, legal professionals, journalists, and mental health professionals rely on this special level of identity privacy. For some victims of abuse, anonymity in digital spaces allows them a basic level of privacy in which to manage their lives separate from their abusers.

So how do you operate your digitally-reliant business without requiring customers to expose exceptionally sensitive information? Consider how your systems rely upon data like legal names and locations for authentication. Instead of making those fields opt-out, you can make them opt-in, providing your customers with a subtle alternative that avoids exposure.

Finally, there are additional opportunities to be uncovered from your organization’s cyber-resilient approach. While key to incident response, cyber-resilience can also be applied to your network security, designing more accessible systems for your customers who have unconventional privacy and security considerations.

Prepare Your Own Human Element

Your employees’ security consciousness will always be a major consideration when it comes to running a tight ship. If you’re on board with making life harder for those attempting to manipulate the human element you employ, you’ll want to learn more about BAI Security’s innovative Social Engineering Evaluation.

This service mimics all of cybercriminals’ cutting-edge infiltration methods to put your team to the test, raising their awareness of the threats at their doorstep. With our real-world methodologies and comprehensive results package, you’ll have all the data you need to turn your greatest potential vulnerability—your people—into your first line of cyber defense.

Ready to explore options for your next IT security assessment or compliance audit? Contact us today.