5 best practices for cross-functional security

March 07, 2024 Chris Alberding 4 min


All companies are vulnerable to cyber threats, which makes a collaborative approach crucial to business health. Strengthen your defenses with these best practices for cross-functional security.

Security in your business is everyone’s responsibility—especially when the threat can come from anywhere. As of December 2023, the U.S. accounted for 33% of all cyberattacks, and those are just the publicly disclosed incidents.

Cross-functional security is a holistic approach to cybersecurity, which requires a concerted effort from all employees. Through a combination of practical training and conscious day-to-day practices, businesses can avoid potentially catastrophic incidents.

Consider this scenario: A finance employee receives a spoofed email that appears to have been sent from the CEO and contains an unexpected link. The employee recognizes that the email is suspicious and flags it for the IT team. Upon review, the IT team determines that the email was a phishing attack. Because of their constant vigilance, the employee has protected the company from a serious breach.

Cross-functional security spreads the responsibility across the entire company, alleviating strain on your already limited IT team rather than trying to maintain siloed cybersecurity efforts. With practical training and distributed teams, you can harden the weakest link in any security chain, the human element, against an ever-evolving threat landscape.

Here are five best practices to help you build a more holistic approach to security.

Best practice #1: Create a security task force

One of the first steps you can take toward implementing cross-functional security is to create a security task force. A security task force is a group of carefully selected leaders from departments crucial to security, such as IT, HR, legal, finance and others.

This team will be responsible for establishing a culture of security at your company and ensuring that each department receives adequate training on how to deal with potential security threats like phishing. It will be important to identify the best members with the available time, skills and abilities to create a diverse team. Prioritize assigning each member to an appropriate role that best utilizes their availability and skill set, which will maximize the task force’s ability to function effectively.

Best practice #2: Educate your teams

Once your task force is in place, it’s time for company-wide security education. This training must be incorporated into your new-hire onboarding, for each department, and throughout each employee’s lifecycle.

The goal is to ensure that each employee understands the need for security-minded practices, common threats they may encounter and their role in supporting your company’s security efforts. This training must evolve with the threat landscape and ensure your employees are updated on security protocol changes, new technologies and new attack vectors.

Best practice #3: Prioritize user-friendly tools

While the IT team may utilize powerful security tools, not every member of your staff will get the same benefits from them. Employees can’t “buy in” to supporting security efforts if tools and systems aren’t built with them in mind. Set your workforce up for success with smart tools that don’t require a learning curve to be effective.

These tools will be especially important for distributed teams and hybrid workers with a less tangible connection to your IT team or a central office. In conjunction with management, your task force will need to impress the importance of streamlined communication and security systems upon the rest of the teams.

Best practice #4: Prioritize user-friendly tools

Cross-functional security may be about building a culture of security, but that strategy can only function with a complementary tech stack. Consider solutions such as:

Successful security solutions unite your workforce, allowing you to effectively fend off cyberattacks.

Best practice #5 – Schedule regular audits

A successful system is flexible and can be adjusted to meet new challenges and requirements.

Scheduling regular audits or risk assessments will ensure your cross-functional security team keeps everyone up-to-date with best practices. These audits will help make teams more comfortable with protocols, initiate new hires and alert your workforce to threats such as new phishing, ransomware or generative AI attacks.

And while preventive measures such as training and audits can play a significant role in cross-functional security, don’t neglect to prepare for worst-case scenarios. Create a flexible disaster recovery plan for unplanned attacks that each member of your cross-functional security team knows well. The quicker you can respond to a breach, the less damage it is likely to cause.

Taking a collaborative approach to security

When it comes to security, everyone has a role to play, whether you keep security in-house or work with a trusted partner. By ensuring you have company-wide support and collaboration across departments, you can set your company up for success in maintaining the safety of your —and your customers’— data.

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Key Takeaway
Cybersecurity is a team endeavor, not a solo mission. By collaborating across departments, your company can turn the human factors—often a weak link in the security chain—into its greatest strength. Reach out to Windstream Enterprise’s security experts for seamless and secure solutions.

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