Senior Executives Pose a Danger to Cyber Security

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by Jon Brown Jun 1, 2019

You Can’t Teach an Old Dog…. or Can You?

I remember trying to explain a VCR to older relatives.  It wasn’t that they were less intelligent or unable to grasp the overall concept, it was that it wasn’t a necessary thing to learn in their opinion.  They weren’t interested in the technology; they had fared fine in life so far without having to watch a recorded episode of anything.  In fact, most of their lives were spent without television altogether.

While not exactly the same, there are similarities in this situation with senior executives in today’s workforce and cybersecurity.  But in this scenario, there is a risk incurred by lack of interest.

With Age Comes Wisdom

The experience and wisdom that put these senior-level execs at the top has likely developed over time, making them a generation or two older than their team.  With that level of responsibility comes access to information that is usually confidential and most of it integral to a company’s success or failure.  Also consider that at that level, these individuals are busy, so they have a team doing a lot of work for them, and in order to do that successfully, they need access to different data.

This means two things:

  1. A lot of people with a lot of different access – leaving a lot of gaps for security breaches to occur

  2. That senior executive didn’t move through their career with strong security habits, so not only is their access easily compromised, but they may often pass out access to one set of information without realizing it is linked to another set.

From the Ground Up

You may not be at the top yourself, and you aren’t going to change the habits overnight of someone who has worked without a cybersecurity plan for twenty or thirty years, but you can work to accommodate their way of working.  As a security advisor, you can ensure that the company is ensuring that there is a system of checks and balances along the way, as well as a plan that supports the business should there be a breach.

Every generation has a learning curve to work with, this one is everyone’s problem and cannot be ignored.  Consider it like employee profit sharing, everyone has to work together for the greater good – and a company that is still around to work for!

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