Automation may be a boon to the bottom line, but AI and computers are far from replacing all human elements in most technological systems. And if you’re not considering both people and Human Factors in your IT security strategy, you may be setting yourself up for breaches and other issues.

Human Factors in Technology

Human Factors, or Ergonomics, is the scientific approach to designing human-centered processes and new technologies. Even when computers are doing much of the heavy lifting virtually, people still need to interact with those systems. IT strategies that fail to make people an integral part of the system design process early on result in cumbersome, ineffective or confusing systems that may get the job done while alienating human components and driving up risks of negative outcomes like slower productivity and increased error rates.

Protecting Usability and Productivity

Human Factors are critical to IT security. Security protocols that aren’t easy enough for users — or that get in the way of business operations — don’t do their job.

As markets become more competitive and businesses attempt to conquer more ground with fewer resources, all aspects of IT become increasingly important. Information technology becomes an extension of the human-powered work processes within an organization, allowing each person to do more. With more processes going through virtual workflows, more is at risk if security is compromised.

At the same time, virtual data is a booming area, and companies of all types and sizes rely on both on-premises and cloud-based data storage. Again, a breach in security with so much data readily available can be an enormous problem.

But IT security strategies that lock the door on data and processes and throw away the key aren’t helpful. Companies require thoughtful security that:

  • Provides on-demand (but gated) access to employees — on a true need-to-know basis — to data and processes
  • Tracks people and system activity for monitoring and compliance purposes
  • Supports the business workflow rather than hindering it, all while keeping networks and information safe

Building for Human Error

But understanding and integrating human elements into IT security isn’t all about protecting the bottom line and usability. It’s also about understanding human error and the role it plays in security. According to the International Association of Privacy Professionals, inadvertent errors are responsible for far more data breaches than malicious activity, and most of those issues can be chalked up to human error.

IT security professionals can’t just consider their technology resources and business needs; they must also consider how users interact with processes and machines and what unplanned outcomes might result from those interactions. By including such concepts in your strategy, you’re better positioned to develop security that guards against human error.

A Challenge for IT Departments

Applying Human Factors into an effective IT security strategy can be challenging simply because people aren’t always consistent. IT professionals can’t assume that because one person or team does something a certain way, everyone else will do the same. Gathering data from as many users and situations as possible are important to mapping security needs and appropriate processes, making IT project management inherently valuable to security teams and development projects.

Whether you’re looking to develop all-new security protocols, want to put intelligent systems in place that appropriately integrate technology or people, or need to update failing security systems, reach out to EIRE Systems for assistance with IT security policies and penetration testing.