Project Managers and Cybersecurity: 10 Best Practices to Always Keep in Mind
According to experts, it costs an average of $4.35 million to amend a cybersecurity breach.
This is the reason why modern companies prefer investing in preemptive safety techniques and working with project managers and other team members that prioritize security.
Here are ten best practices you can adopt to improve security as a project manager.
Protect Your Team’s Devices
As a project manager, it’s essential to consider all security variables. This includes every single device used by each one of your team members.
Adopt a Password Etiquette
Passwords are the most basic login credentials, and they are used to access everything from work tools to client records. Because of this, it’s essential to protect the password of every single work account.
Here are some best practices you should follow.
- Sound passwords: choose secure passwords that are difficult to guess;
- No sharing: avoid sharing passwords with anyone under any circumstances;
- Frequent updates: update your password three or four times per year.
Manage Your Team’s Access Permissions
Do all your team members need access to confidential and private information to fulfill their roles?
If the answer to this question is no, then you should create different permission levels and assign them to team members based on their roles.
The idea is to limit sensitive details to the people that absolutely need access to it, which inherently reduces the risk involved.
Encrypt Your Data
Cybercriminals can intercept your internet connection and extract information that’s not protected.
You can avoid this by encrypting your connection. This means that you encode the data being transferred to and from your device, making it impossible for criminals to interpret or read the information.
The easiest way to encrypt your connection is by using a VPN. But remember that the benefits of a VPN extend beyond encryption as this type of tool can:
- Protect your location: VPNs can help you mask your location and prevent detection altogether;
- Overcome advanced tracking: advanced platforms include IP spoofing and similar features that help mask your location;
- Prevent information from being shared: some VPNs work exclusively with server service providers that don’t keep logs, which means there are no records of your online sessions.
Manage and Backup Data Appropriately
Cybercriminals can take down even the strongest, most comprehensive security systems.
Therefore, you need to plan ahead and create backups that allow you to restore your system if you do suffer from a security breach.
As a general rule of thumb, always remember to set up:
- Local backups: these are backups stored directly in your system;
- Cloud backups: backups that are stored in the cloud rather than in your local system;
- Physical non-local backups: records that are stored in a physical device outside of your system, like a backup server.
Conduct a Safety and Security Training
Everyone has different experiences, so you should never assume that your whole team is on the same page from a security standpoint.
Instead, take the time to deliver security and safety training. This will help make sure that your team is not only on the same page but that every member follows the same cybersecurity practices.
This can be performed both online or in person; just remember to have a verified cybersecurity expert providing the presentation, whether that be an internet team member or an outsourced individual.
Keep Network and Device Software Updated
You’ve probably heard that keeping your device software up to date is a security best practice.
This is accurate, but as a project manager, you need to go the extra mile and ensure that the software of your entire network (and all of the devices within it) is also up to date.
Set Up a Firewall
Firewalls prevent the transfer of information to malicious sources, which effectively creates a computer-wide filtering system.
You should speak to your system administrator and make sure that your network has a firewall. That said, take the time to verify that only unwanted sources are being blocked, as this can produce access issues later on.
Only Communicate Via Company Channels
Do you ever turn to casual communication channels to discuss work matters? If the answer to these questions is yet, you may be creating an unnecessary security risk.
As a best practice, it’s recommended to keep all of your company communications on company channels, as these should have been vetted and protected by your cybersecurity team.
10. Create a Risk Management Plan
Your backup and restoration system is just a small part of your entire risk management plan.
If you haven’t already, put some time aside to create a risk management plan that details every single step your team should take to halt the breach, identify its source, and prevent it from happening again.
Why Should Project Managers Follow Security Best Practices?
With 83% of companies not only preparing for but actually expecting a breach to occur, it’s essential to monitor and protect every potential weakness in a network.
Phishing and similar cybercrimes have been on the rise. Because of this, all stakeholders that manage confidential information need to take precautions to protect company resources. And, of course, this includes project managers.
Cybercrime Statistics Over the Last Years
Part of the reason why project managers need to adopt additional security processes is because cybersecurity threats are constantly growing.
Besides phishing rates rising by more than 60%, what other cybercrimes are on the rise? Let’s take a look.
- Malware attacks: ransomware and similar malicious software attacks have increased by 150%;
- DDoS attempts: this type of cyberattack was more frequently used in 115% of cyberattacks last year,
- Email breaches: estimates suggest that more than 460 million accounts were hacked in 2022.
To Sum Up
As a project manager, maintaining high-security levels is challenging, but it’s definitely possible.
By adopting strong password etiquette, encrypting data, managing team permissions, creating a solid backup schedule, and following the other tips above, you should be able to create a safe environment and successfully manage your projects without hiccups.
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