No business or individual wants to be the victim of a disaster. Cyber-attacks can cause exactly that. Individuals are the first line of defense for personal privacy and cybersecurity. For businesses, it’s essential to train everyone associated with data systems to avoid letting hackers and other criminals into the network that holds data,

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Dr. Gleb Tsipursky explains in this podcast how disaster avoidance requires an approach based on emotional intelligence and training based on human psychology. While firewalls, policies and procedures are essential for protecting a company’s data flows, so is effective training of personnel – of employees, contractors, others who hold the keys to accessing a company’s computer systems. Freezes of entire company systems caused by ransomware, thefts of financial and intellectual property by hackers, improper releases of personal data of customers – these and other crimes of the digital age are often caused by one individual’s careless acts in letting a thief enter a business’ digital gateway.

People are overconfident about their practical ability to avoid getting sucked into phishing and other acts that open a business’ doors to invasion. This is based on the human tendency to exaggerate our knowledge of how to protect ourselves. Phishing attacks are increasingly clever and hard to defect. It’s tempting to click on an attachment or link in what appears to be an authentic message.

People resist change, though most of us might deny it about ourselves. We don’t want to admit our ignorance. Training of disaster avoidance must embrace this point. It must communicate through stories, through information shared rather than lectured, through how advice is being offered for us to improve instead of just how to avoid being disciplined or fired.

Leaders of those who design and implement data security and privacy initiatives should embrace an approach based on these fundamentals about human psychology. They should create a system that rewards people for improving their skills at avoiding disaster rather than taking a “check the box” approach to training based on the traditional lecture that causes people to resist change or ignore what’s being communicated.

Dr. Tsipursky is CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts LLC, a frequent commentator for radio and print media, author of the forthcoming book available for pre-order at Amazon, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters.