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It is often said that employees are the greatest asset to a company, but when it comes to cybersecurity, they are often the greatest weakness. So why would we assume that all things related to cyber security belong to the IT department? Think about your employees. The one who innocently clicks on a phishing attempt, or the one who fails to set up two-factor authentication.  They could even be on their second day of employment and receive an email allegedly from the organization’s president that tells them to go pickup gift cards on their behalf. Employees are vulnerable at almost every entry point, and while it may seem like a company’s IT department can prevent an incident, IT professionals cannot cover everything. 

Cybersecurity is an essential aspect of business operations, which is why it cannot be viewed as the sole responsibility of the IT department. Cybersecurity threats evolve daily and organizations can best prepare and protect themselves by taking a shared responsibility to protect the company’s assets and data. When you think about it, cyber threats are not limited to technical issues. Cyber criminals use a wide range of tactics to gain access to sensitive information, including social engineering, phishing, and malware.  These tactics are often directed at non-technical employees, making it even more important that all employees are aware of the risks and are trained to recognize and respond to potential threats. 

When adopting a shared approach to cybersecurity, where all departments and employees split the responsibility for protecting the company’s assets and data, an organization should include the following elements: 

  • A cybersecurity policy that outlines the organization’s approach to protect sensitive information and the roles and responsibilities of all employees. 

  • Regular training and awareness programs for all employees to help them understand the risks and recognize potential threats. 

  • Regular testing and monitoring of the organization’s security systems and processes to identify vulnerabilities and respond to potential threats. 

  • Strong incident response and disaster recovery plans to minimize the impact of a security incident or outage. 

  • Regular communication and collaboration between IT and other departments, to ensure that all employees understand the risks and are aware of the organization’s cybersecurity policies and procedures. 

Allow cybersecurity to permeate through every aspect of your organization. Begin the process with onboarding new employees. Explain to them the importance, give them examples and allow them to ask questions. Tell them to trust their gut, challenge information that appears questionable and give them the tools and knowledge to minimize risks. We encourage our teams to prepare for the worst by planning for what could happen. Talk through situations, how they would be handled, and what actions should take place. Involve everyone and allow them to feel comfortable with how they would respond. Shift the mindset from fear to awareness. 

Measure, monitor and have a champion in every department. Often, employees are nervous about questioning things that are not normal. Having someone they trust to check-in with, show, or explain what they have come across, can be beneficial. A cybersecurity champion acts as an advocate for their team, promoting a strong cybersecurity environment and helping others understand and strive toward maintaining it. These champions become the central team that you communicate with to help advocate and share best practices and updates to their department. 

Including multiple people in backup processes and incident response plans can also provide protection to the organization. 

Overall, an organization’s cybersecurity policy is only as effective as its least careful employee.  Cybersecurity is a complex and ever evolving field that cannot be left solely in the hands of the IT department. If you create a shared responsibility, involving all employees and all departments in the approach, an organization can better protect sensitive information and minimize the impact of cyber threats on its operations. 


Chief Information Officer Syndeo Wichita, KS 

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