Breaches in cybersecurity remain a top boardroom concern. But while many companies take a technology-first approach to cybersecurity, most breaches are human-performance related. We address this critical gap.
In 2017, an employee at the world’s largest shipping conglomerate saw computer screens suddenly turn black and irreversibly lock. In 2019, the City of New Orleans declared a State of Emergency in the aftermath of a cyberattack on all government computers. And later that year, a ransomware attack toppled an Arkansas-based telemarketing firm, causing it to suspend operations and leave hundreds of employees jobless days before Christmas. These are the nightmare scenarios that everyone dreads and no one is immune, even the most sophisticated companies. But how are such incidents prevented? The right technology is imperative, of course, but that is insufficient—as reflected in the growing number of serious incidents.
While companies continue to focus their investments in cybersecurity in technology, more than 95% of breaches are attributable to breakdowns in human performance. Failure to update software, poor password protocols, lack of compliance—cyber breaches are rarely due to the lack of sophistication of the technology. Unfortunately, adding additional layers of technology can sometimes inadvertently exacerbate the situation. As technology complexity increases, the points of potential breakdown grow geometrically. The net effect is an increase—not improvement—in enterprise cyber risk.
Fortunately, an analog exists for how to address this type of risk, and leverage human performance as a critical layer of defense: the High Reliability Organization. HROs came of age in the energy industry in response to growing industry complexity and catastrophes such as Deepwater Horizon.
HROs are defined by a set of behaviors that are uniquely capable of navigating highly complex, distributed environments where the threat of catastrophic risk is ever-present, and constantly changing. They are unwaveringly watchful, prepared to catch the unexpected. They identify emerging issues early and learn from every event, leading to systemic knowledge. We make it possible for any company to measure its alignment with HRO behaviors, then address the gaps.
HRCOs employ these HRO principles to provide an additional layer of cybersecurity: human performance. Companies need the right technology, but even the best technology will fail, or become obsolete in the face of ever-more-sophisticated hacks. Strong protocols and procedures are imperative, but even those won’t account for every scenario. At the end of the day, inculcating HRCO behaviors is critical because when technology and process fail, human performance is all that’s standing between you and a cyberattack.
We leverage our deep HRO expertise and broad technology strategy experience to help you close what is the single biggest cybersecurity gap in most organizations. WP&C delivers leading cyberoperations performance without the complexity and risk of a tech-centric approach by addressing all three critical drivers of cyber operations excellence—Technology, Processes, and Human Performance. We are the leader in implementing HRCO practices and will help you reduce incident, breach, and compliance risk while minimizing costs.
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