A good project manager must be a master of many skills, and the awareness and knowledge of cybercrime must be one of them. Our remote world and continued dependence on technology provide hackers with many new opportunities to breach corporate systems and steal private customer data. As a manager, allowing this to happen during your project can be devastating.
That is why you need to take the proper steps to learn about potential cyber threats and take the time to educate your staff on proper protection and awareness of the issues. To help you out in this regard, we have some important information about the dangers of data theft and tips to keep your organization protected.
The Dangers of a Lack of Security
The reality of the situation is that hackers are always looking for new ways to breach corporate infrastructures, and even if you are just starting out in the world of project management, you are still at risk. In fact, hackers often target smaller organizations because they know that the protections are likely not in place, so it is basically an open door. So, whether you are new to project management or you are a veteran at a large corporate entity, cybersecurity should be your first priority.
It is bad enough when hackers steal your information, but if they also take the information of the customers or clients, then your project management role could be over before it starts. High-profile data breaches like those that have occurred at Yahoo and Target have frightened many customers, so if they have a feeling that their data might be compromised with your organization, they will likely drop your business and look elsewhere.
The last thing you want is to be connected to a data breach, and the incident can occur right under your nose. Imagine setting up your big project with all the moving components without factoring in essential cyber security protocols. A hacker could implant a virus that you are not even aware of that could lie dormant until the company you work for implements your project, at which point, the hacker activates the virus to cause maximum damage. You do not want to be the one responsible for allowing the virus in the first place because, in addition to potentially not working again, you could also find yourself in legal trouble.
Needless to say, it is time to learn about cybersecurity and get your team on the same page.
Security at The Office
The first thing you want to do when taking on a new project is perform a risk assessment. For every plan that you hope to implement, run it by a cybersecurity expert and see where any vulnerabilities may lie. If there are any, figure out a workaround or change the plan entirely so you don’t have to reverse course once your plans are in motion. Keep in mind that every project you manage will be different, so a different risk assessment will need to be created.
If you already know that you are working with sensitive customer information, then you need to put the proper safeguards in place to avoid a breach. At a minimum, ensure that all systems have strong and complex passwords that include a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters. Advise the team about the importance of updating their passwords every couple of months and to make them difficult to guess. Using a street or pet name is nice, but hackers can easily guess that with a simple glimpse at an employee’s social media accounts.
Just about any project will involve complex data, and if it falls into the wrong hands, then the damage could be catastrophic. At a minimum, ensure that you have an updated antivirus program installed on all computers and run scans every week. With many time-sensitive deadlines to consider, access to all important data will be essential, so make sure to back up all necessary data every day so you are not left at square one in the case that your data is deleted during a breach.
Advancements in tech, along with the continued fears of COVID-19, are leading many businesses to continue a remote work arrangement for their employees, and as a project manager, you may have employees working in different parts of the world. When everyone isn’t covered by one overarching IT team, taking the right precautions to protect client data is more important than ever because a breach of an employee’s personal computer can quickly be transferred to their corporate device.
This potential danger is why as the project manager, you must ensure that your employees are taking the proper precautions at home. They too should have antivirus software installed, and if they don’t, your company should provide it. If workers need their smartphones to complete their work, your company should provide mobile phones that are only for office tasks that already have the proper security tools pre-installed.
Managers need to educate their team on common scams, like phishing emails, where hackers can pretend to be a representative from the company and send an attachment that is actually a virus. With one click, an uneducated employee could allow malware from that attachment into their computer, and an uneducated staff is one of the top issues IT departments face when combatting cybersecurity issues.
The freedom of remote work allows employees to work from anywhere, but by bringing their devices out in public, they could be more at risk. Staff members who work in public places like restaurants and coffee shops should be cautious of using public Wi-Fi because hackers can create fake networks, and if the employee connects, the hacker can take control of their device and cause devastating damage.
The lesson in all of this is that it is essential that project managers take cybersecurity as seriously as they can and that they take the time to teach their teams about how to protect against common threats. By keeping your client data confidential and out of the wrong hands, you will be highly regarded and trusted as a project manager and more assignments will follow.