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How to encourage staff to report data breaches

8 December 2016
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Traditionally, UK companies have been poor at encouraging a positive reporting culture. Even the smallest breaches are typically not reported, meaning minor problems, which could have been nipped in the bud, are likely to get cumulatively worse until they risk the security of the whole system.

Last year’s data breach suffered by TalkTalk, for instance, was caused by a combination of insecure webpages and bugs which left the database vulnerable to cyberattack. Whilst we don’t know what the company culture of TalkTalk is, we can only surmise it is not one that encourages its staff to report vulnerabilities; through a positive reporting culture, breaches could have been dealt with as they occurred, closing the gaps through which hackers gained access, thus preventing a record fine and loss of public trust.

And while large companies can usually afford to ride the storm, small businesses are not so lucky. According to the American National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of small companies cease trading within six months of a cyberattack. This figure will inevitably go up as the maximum size of fine the ICO’s can impose increases from £500,000 to €20 million.

What is a reportable breach?

Security breaches don’t have to be large. In fact, the smallest of actions can start a butterfly effect leading to a cyberattack, meaning any kind of breach needs to be reported. In Information Security Management Policy terms, such instances can be:

  • Leaving your workstation without locking your computer screen
  • Using a USB stick with unencrypted data
  • Opening an unknown email attachment
  • Not protecting computers with up-to-date anti-malware software
  • Downloading risky and unapproved software
  • Insecure disposal of hardware
  • Sabotage by a disgruntled employee
  • Weak passwords

Why don’t people report breaches?

In many cases, individuals are afraid to report even the smallest breach as they fear they might lose their job. So they try to fix the problem themselves, which increases the likelihood of leaving a breach. In a company that encourages a positive reporting culture, even the smallest breach will be reported, enabling the experts to deal with it promptly.

Catastrophic incidents caused by pressuring employees who are then afraid to report problems are not confined to the IT world. In 1990, the captain of a BA aircraft was sucked out of the plane after the bolts on a newly-repaired window in the cockpit failed and the window blew out. Amazingly the captain survived, thanks to the actions of his crew. The investigation discovered that because of the time pressures placed on the maintenance crew, they had cut corners and used the wrong sized bolts when securing the new window. Had a positive reporting culture been in place maintenance teams could have fed back concerns over the time pressures and a properly repair, whilst causing delays, could have been completed and a near disaster averted.

How to encourage a positive reporting culture

Managers need to realise that a positive reporting culture will ultimately protect the company. By having a blame and punishment mindset, they actively discourage employees from flagging up potential problems, leaving the business vulnerable. By fostering an open, blame-free culture, people will feel more comfortable reporting data breaches at an early stage when something can be done about it.

How we encourage a positive reporting culture

Although it’s a minor problem, we had difficulties with our own staff leaving their workstation without locking their computer. In order to encourage them to get into the habit of securing their stations, we developed a tongue-in-cheek ‘Hoffing’ punishment, whereby whenever this happened, someone would change the desktop wallpaper to a photo of David Hasselhoff. We also added a points system element and at the end of the week, the employee who had been ‘Hoffed’ the most times would have to buy the beers for everyone. It was a fun way of making a serious point that a company’s security is only as good as its weakest link.

 

If you are worried about the security of your IT systems, or would like to talk to us about managed serviced provision, contact us for more information.

What our customers say

Lumina Technologies have taken the time to understand the requirements of our business and work as our strategic IT partner, enabling us to concentrate on delivering a high quality service to our clients and focus on our growth strategy. They have delivered a 100% cloud solution to our business with no underlying infrastructure costs or maintenance, which gives us scalability for our planned growth. It also means our business critical applications and data are securely accessible from virtually all our user devices. Lumina’s professional approach and strategic expertise is highly valued and their management of our IT – based on their in-depth knowledge, leaves us confident that our systems are available 24×7.

Luke Harrison, Keidan Harrison LLP

Lumina have supported us so well through the difficult circumstances of 2020.  They worked extremely hard to ensure we were able to work remotely and continue to operate our business successfully.The support team are very friendly and knowledgeable, and have excellent response times.

The team have also enhanced our cyber security which is so important in the legal sector, and they continue to provide high quality advice to help us move forward with our IT goals.

Adams & Remers

The quality of IT Support provided by Lumina Technology is of the highest standard and is complemented by effective client liaison with impressive response times. Trap Oil Group plc has no hesitation in recommending Lumina as a dedicated and specialist group of IT professionals.

Martin David
Technical Director, Trap Oil Group plc

Richard and his team are a real inspiration to anyone who meets them and I have watched Lumina’s growth over the last few years with interest and admiration. Richard has been an amazing supporter of the Hospice of St Francis, being a Gold member of the Corporate Partner Network for almost two years. He takes an active interest in the community and is passionate about his company and his town: nothing is too much trouble, he is always willing to help, to give up his time and to provide business advice when asked. Lumina is an inspiration to any company wanting to set up business in Hertfordshire.

Carolyn Addison
Corporate Fundraising Manager, The Hospice of St Francis

Lumina Technologies Prism Hosted Desktop has allowed our business to centralise our global corporate data, allowing much faster access for all our staff – regardless of their location. We have also been able to simplify and reduce our infrastructure and management overhead. With the new Prism Hosted Desktop solution all staff now have simple and secure access to corporate data using any device they choose. Prism Hosted Desktop has increased the productivity of our staff and given us a single, consistent and familiar experience for all users from any device, in any location, 24/7.

Katherine Roe
Chief Executive Officer, Wentworth Resources PLC

The commercially sensitive and regulated nature of Lambert Energy Advisory’s business requires an IT provider able to maintain the highest levels of integrity and confidentiality, Lumina Technologies has consistently been unimpeachable in this regard over the nine years we have employed them.

Patrick Agar
Lambert Energy Advisory

It has been a great pleasure working with Lumina Technologies over the past two years. They have fully committed to being involved in the local community with volunteering and with professional advice and commitment, helping many local charities along the way. As a growing company it proves that being involved in the local community is helping them attract and retain a talented workforce and I look forward to working with them well into the future.

Cindy Withey
Connect Dacorum

Hawkstone Management Services Ltd is a small company for which IT Outsourcing is realistically the only viable option. Lumina Technologies have successfully performed this role for over fifteen years. They also provide innovative solutions to keep pace with technological progress. I would have no hesitation in recommending Lumina to similar sized businesses.

Stephen Pembury
Hawkstone Management Services Ltd

Charles Douglas Solicitors LLP have been using Lumina Technologies for a number of years now and continue to be impressed by the technical know-how and contemporary knowledge of their senior management, who provide a timely, efficient and friendly service. Whether it is a small issue with one computer, or a strategic IT decision, they maintain a current knowledge of available technologies. Lumina are always at the other end of the phone to help resolve issues and minimise business interference. The technical knowledge of Richard and his senior team means that there has not been a problem that they can’t solve to date. I am sure we will continue to use them in the years to come.

Charles Douglas
Managing Partner, Charles Douglas Solicitors LLP

The team at Lumina Technologies have made the Amoun Travel & Tours office IT transition seamless and problem free. The office set-up has been vastly improved and the IT Support services are flawless. No issue goes unresolved, which is extremely reassuring.

Adam Helmy
Amoun Travel & Tours Ltd

Lumina Technologies has been Salamander Energy plc’s IT provider since start-up in 2005 and has supported us in London during our expansion across operational offices in SE Asia. Their professional approach, strategic advice and close co-operation have been essential in making this a success.

John Bell
Group Technical Director, Salamander Energy plc

Richard and his team at Lumina have provided Perrett Laver Limited with high quality strategic and practical IT Services for over ten years. During this period, Perrett Laver has grown from 10+ colleagues based in London to nearly 100 colleagues located in six offices across the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. Richard and the Lumina team have not just been responsive to our ‘everyday’ IT needs, but have proactively sought to work with us on developing an infrastructure suitable for the type of operation we are today, and are planning to be months and years down the line. I would not hesitate to recommend Richard, especially for small to medium size business with growth in mind.

Clementine McKinley
COO, Perrett Laver Limited

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Society Limited has been supported by Lumina Technologies since our earliest start-up phase. From large logistical challenges like an office move, through to smaller fiddly issues like fixing a faulty e-template, we know we can count on their support and advice. They’ve also been able to engage with us strategically on the challenge of scaling-up our infrastructure as the firm continues to grow and evolve. We always feel confident going to Lumina with a problem, since we know they genuinely care about sorting things out and helping us to get on with our core business.

Simon Lucas
Managing Director, Society Limited

The Vita Group HQ staff have worked with Richard McBarnet and Lumina Technologies for over 9 years, with Lumina providing all our PC, server, phone, and software support. The services have included C-level executives based in London, Manchester, the US, as well as supporting home office IT as well. The service provided and intellectual capabilities are outstanding and we would highly recommend Richard and his Lumina team.

Joe Menendez
CEO, The Vita Group

We worked with Lumina on a GDPR Audit. Richard was knowledgeable and professional throughout, and did the best he could to bring a dry topic to life through lots of real life examples and analogies. We were so impressed with the service Lumina provided and the value we got from partnering with them on this project – we couldn’t recommend them enough.

Holly Cottingham, Vintec Laboratories

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