Cybersecurity in Project Management is a necessity in today’s environment for generating plausible results. It could be building a new CRM system or moving your existing infrastructure to the cloud. Undertaking a project without knowledge of cybersecurity can have disastrous repercussions. It leaves the organization open to exploitation by malicious actors. Despite organized project management methodologies like Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, Kanban cybersecurity has a critical role in project management. Hence, project managers need to be very vigilant about the various security threats and trends. Let’s take a quick look at the cybersecurity essentials that every PM needs to know.
What is Project Management in Cybersecurity?
The general tendency is to consider cybersecurity as an afterthought in development. Therefore, you find cybersecurity experts addressing existing vulnerabilities and patching up security holes in network systems frequently. Such an approach to cybersecurity is like a hit-and-miss approach that can never be effective in the long run. Therefore, the focus should be on designing systems to be secure right from their conception. Security by design is a calculated approach to hardware and software development where the focus is on making these systems free of vulnerabilities and threats.
Understanding Security By Design
The security objective of a Project Manager is to make systems impervious to attack by employing risk-mitigation measures like continuous testing, adherence to the best programming practices, and introducing authentication safeguards AKA DevSecOps. Agile differs from the Waterfall methodology in the way that it breaks the project into individual deliverable pieces rather than creating a timeline for a consolidated plan. Therefore, cybersecurity in an agile environment entails formulating a comprehensive approach to identify gaps. As the project progresses in stages, it is necessary to ensure security at every step of the development.
How Project Managers Promote Security at Every Stage
1. Define the project requirements: The primary accountability of the project manager is to meet the project objectives by managing & documenting the client’s requirements and needs.
2. Technical Stage: In this stage, the PM designs the entire framework of the project like determining the priority of the objectives and the total duration required to achieve each of them. Post which the project manager maps out the project execution plan.
3. Management of Resource: In this stage, the PM evaluates whether the set objectives can be achieved with the available resources. This process consists of estimating the budget, management of team and time, assessing the risk.
4. Final Stage: The outcome of the research is documented and presented which gives a clear picture of the estimated time and budget that would be required to achieve the desired goal.
In all the stages, security is very important. The above-mentioned stages involve activities like collecting and storing sensitive data. Hence, if any of the information is leaked this would eventually build up significant pressure on all the project management processes. Therefore, a project manager must ensure that all the essential security measures are taken prior to initiating the first stage.
Data Security is Crucial
Data security is a serious matter and yes it is an investment that will pay you in long run. We would recommend that PM should consult with the organization’s financial expert to get an accurate understanding of ROI which would measure the success rate of implementing safe practices. Consult department heads in the supply chain, logistics, and legal regarding loss. It is vital to have a discussion with the IT development team as they can quickly give you an overview of the best practices that should be implemented for project security. It is important to determine all the possible channels through which the team’s sensitive data can be attacked. For instance, internet connection, voice calls, emails, messengers, file servers, website data, file transfers.
Tighten the Security at Every Level
More focus should be placed on cybersecurity when it comes to IT or any technology-based project. PM should assure that all the levels of corporate IT security are shielded to prevent any data breach. There are various levels of corporate IT security which are listed below:
1. General Security: It consists of access management, registration safety, prevention from attack, and fire safety.
2. Infrastructure Security: It ensures protecting corporate devices, media files. It detects intrusions. In this, PM focuses more on the prevention of the issues rather than dealing with the current issues.
3. Communication Safety: It ensures that all the mediums of communication are secure like email, voice call, instant messengers, and remote work.
4. Wireless Security: Here, the PM ensures that all the wireless communication and file transfer that is used in the development process adheres to the best security practices.
5. Cryptography: All the sensitive project data and confidential communication materials should be encrypted.
6. Operational Safety: PM ensures that all the security guidelines and policies must be followed by the team.
Assessment of Potential Risk
The nature of the project and the sources of exposure are the mains aspects that determine the level of risk. Let me explain in short detail.
1. Nature of the project: Analyzing and calculating the amount of data that is stored in the organization’s server also understanding the type of data that is stored. For example, financial data, client data or internal company files, etc…
2. Sources of exposure: The higher the number of storage devices and online communication channels, the higher is the risk of data theft. However, this doesn’t mean you should keep all your eggs in one basket i.e. data centralization is not a solution rather it makes the work of cybercriminals easy. Hence, it is important to keep assessing the potential risk so that preventive measures can be taken and keep a regular eye on all the used data sources.
There are high chances of project data getting hacked when it is been transferred from one team member to another. Hence, communication protocols should be followed religiously to avoid such threats. It’s very important to understand what kind of files can be attached to emails and Microsoft TEAMS, OneDrive, SharePoint, and what kind of data should be transferred through secure encryption software. Popular tools for safe file transfer are pCloud Crypto, Enigmail, LastPass.
Training to Employees
The Project Manager should make sure that all his team members are alert about the various security threats and also knows about managing the potentials risk. For this proper training should be imparted to the employees. For instance, Onboarding activities should include security training wherein the new employee is made aware of the best security practices and also gets trained on how to react to a situation if encountered with a data breach. The new employees should also be updated on security policies which would teach them how to identify a potentially dangerous page.
Cybersecurity has evolved at a rapid pace and will keep evolving in the coming times. Basic preventive measures like communication encryption and employee training are very effective practices for ensuring data security. Adopt a proactive approach for securing your valuable data rather than allowing a cyber-criminal to take advantage.
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