Managers Become Risk Officers

It's up to managers to protect their companies from external threats
It’s up to managers to protect their companies from external threats Image Credit: Mike Cohen

I think that we can all agree that we are currently living in a very dangerous world. There are a lot of people out there who would like to break into your company’s IT systems. Once inside, they could do many different things from stealing valuable information to setting traps. Since managers are on the front lines of how the company accomplishes tasks, we are also on the front lines of keeping our company’s resources safe. Just exactly how are we supposed to go about doing this?

Managers Have To Plan For Cyberattacks

A good question for a manager is what do they have planned to work on for tomorrow? If it’s not already on their list of things to do, they should be adding planning on how they’re going to handle the next inevitable cyberattack. The time to make a decision about this is not in the middle of a crisis. Most importantly we need to understand just exactly what kinds of threats we are facing and what the best way of dealing with them is.

Creating Plans To Deal With Ransomware

The best course of action that a manager can take now to protect against a ransomware attack is to assemble a crisis management team and an IT leadership group, review the company’s insurance policy for cyberattack coverage, and talk with their insurers about it. There are four essential questions that a manager needs to identify the answer to:

  1. When do we pay?
  2. When do we not pay?
  3. What does insurance cover?
  4. How do we shore up our defenses?

The most important thing for a manager to do is to make it harder for a hacker to launch a ransomware attack. Managers need to make sure their company isn’t beholden to one single source of operations and that they run a redundancy practice drills to understand how vulnerable they may be to an attack. What’s more, managers need to ask team members for input about the risks they see. By doing this, managers may hear about vulnerabilities they might have not realized themselves. Once they have a list of possible risks, managers need to decide on a few that fall into the “moderate chance” and “moderate damage” categories. Then, by starting with those a manager can work their way up from there. That can be your ransomware plan.

Handling Deep Fakes

Team members also need to know about deep fakes. Deep fakes are realistic photos, audio, videos, and other counterfeit imitations generated with artificial intelligence. These are important to know about because they’re increasingly part of a typical financial fraud scheme. For example, a team member may receive a video showing someone who looks exactly like the CEO saying to move a large amount of money into an account by the end of the day. Similarly, team members are now receiving deep-fake phone calls that sound exactly like the CEO asking for money to be moved into an account.

You need to make it clear to team members, particularly in financial areas, that the movement of money should never be generated by an incoming communication, but to always confirm it with the appropriate manager directly. Tell your team members point blank: “‘It will take your picking up the phone and saying, ‘I’m sorry to bother you, but did you just tell me to move two million dollars or not?'”

As companies bring team members back into an office setting after a year or more of remote work, more security issues could be on the horizon, particularly if your business isn’t on the cloud or using a VPN. Managers need to start troubleshooting now. We need to ask our IT team about any cybersecurity risks they may have seen since starting remote work, especially as team members have used their own devices for work more at home. These risks may include attempted incursions on your firewall, an increase in outbound data, or a flood of attachments and emails sent outside of your system.

What All Of This Means For You

The world in which we live continues to change and managers need to be aware of this. Managers are uniquely positioned to help keep their companies safe. Because we spend our days working at the company’s front lines, we are the ones who can spot problems as they start to happen and we are among the first set of employees who can take actions to defend the company. We just have to know what to look out for.

When it comes to cyberattacks, the first thing that managers have to realize is that they need to prepare for bad things to happen before they happen. Right now, ransomware is a popular attack that is being launched against companies. Managers need to take the time to find answers to critical questions before they get hit. Getting team members to provide them with money is what every hacker is trying to do. The use of deep fakes that can be hard to distinguish from the real thing has become a popular attack vector. Managers need to work with their team in order make sure that everyone double checks all requests for funds.

The bad guys keep getting better and better at what they are trying to do. This means that managers, who operate at the front line of their company, need to be the ones who are keeping their eyes open for trouble. If we can educate ourselves as to what we need to be detecting, then we can be the ones who can take action to keep our company’s IT assets secure.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that company should ever pay a ransomware demand?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it, there are a lot of things that go on each day that require our attention. It may be when people drop by to ask us a question, but more often than not it’s something electronic. It could be as simple as when a new email pops up in your in basket. It could also be when Microsoft Teams signals that someone is trying to call you. No matter what the source, it’s a distraction. How can we help our teams deal with all of the alerts that they are getting?