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Secure Recruitment: The Recruitment Agency’s Mini-Guide to Cyber Security

Recruitment companies often handle a relatively large amount of sensitive data, ranging from the personal details and documents of candidates, to confidential information about their own business and their clients. Being such a people and reputation-driven industry, staying cyber secure is crucial for protecting the reputation of your agency and avoiding considerable financial, reputational and legal consequences.

Of course, risks aside, investing into cyber security for your recruitment agency is also a competitively beneficial opportunity that enables you to:

    • Demonstrate your commitment to cyber security for candidates, clients and partners alike.
    • Better ensure secure and undisrupted growth and daily operations.
    • With Cyber Essentials certification: £25’000 in free cyber insurance coverage as well as the potential to access lower cyber insurance premiums and valuable social proof.
    • Preserve and safeguard your reputation and relationships.

Securing your digital premises, however big or small, is becoming the norm today. Every business should have a sturdy digital perimeter and safeguards in place. The number of cyber-attacks and the sophistication of the tools that are used by cyber criminals are growing, but thankfully so are the solutions!

In this mini-guide, we outline the key facets of cyber security that your recruitment agency should apply, introduce the Cyber Essentials scheme as a handy framework for laying a cyber-secure foundation for your agency, and offer some advice on keeping your agency cyber-secure now, and moving into the future.


The Need for Cyber Security in Recruitment

Why is cyber security paramount for recruitment agencies? The answer lies in the value of the data that you manage. Candidate information such as contact details, employment history, and sometimes even financial information, is a goldmine for cybercriminals. Likewise, sensitive client information can also be used for private gain.

When cybercriminals access and use this information for illicit purposes, it can have a range of impacts on the businesses that they get this information from. We probably don’t have to tell you about the potential financial, reputational and legal consequences!

While the risks are real, we emphasise that there are many advantages to investing in cyber security; today, it’s a key ingredient for sustaining commercial success, and with accreditations available such as Cyber Essentials, you can stand out from the crowd as a trustworthy recruitment partner to candidates and clients alike.

Cyber security is a field where risk minimisation and accessing more commercial opportunities go hand in hand with each other.


The Facets of Cyber Security for Recruitment Agencies

Your recruitment agency will want to consider each of these key facets. Implementing these facets will enable your recruitment agency to:

    • Minimise the chances of data breaches and cyber attacks
    • Minimise the impact of any data breaches and cyber attacks
    • Tap into the benefits of having a robust cyber security posture

These facets are:

Data Protection and Privacy

It is key to protect the vast amounts of personal data that your recruitment agency is storing and processing in the course of business, and to do so compliantly.

Some may believe that a software provider, such as your ATS vendor, is responsible for protecting your data. This is only partly true; if for example a cybercriminal gets access into your ATS using compromised credentials, or if an internal database that feeds into the ATS is compromised, the responsibility for the breach of data integrity would lie with your agency.

Tools you can use to promote data protection and privacy include encryption tools, only accessing company resources via secure networks, enforcing strong password policies, and using access controls and MFA across your applications.

Network Security

Your network comprises your interconnected devices and apps, this includes your laptops, routers and servers for example.

Because hybrid working is a popular choice for recruitment agencies, paying attention to what devices can access your network and how your network is being accessed is especially important, as they can leave open vulnerabilities that lead to the accessing of your data.

There are a range of network security measures that can help. These include VPNs, network firewalls, device management tools that can enforce IT policies, and network monitoring tools.

Device Security

Your devices are the nodes of your network and ensuring they are secure goes hand in hand with network security. Device vulnerabilities can arise for a range of reasons, including lacking antivirus, not being up to date, and visiting unsecure websites.

Two solid steps you can take to secure your devices, is to keep them updated with the latest patches and fixes, and to install antivirus software on them.

Email Security

Many cyber attacks happen because of user error or accidents at their root-cause. Clicking an unsafe link in an email, or providing sensitive information can lead to business compromise. Phishing attacks, which involve a cyber criminal posing as an authoritative person to get a user to take an action, are among one of the biggest cyber threats.

To empower email security, you can use phishing protection and email filtering software, as well as train your team about phishing attacks, and how to safely recognise and deal with them.

Access Control and Identity Management

Access control and identity management involve ensuring only trusted, verified people are accessing your data and services. This also includes your candidates and clients.

Access controls should be defined across your apps on a ‘need to know’ basis, mitigating the risks of data exposure across the board. You can also implement MFA across your applications and enforce strict password policies using tools such as a password manager.

Data Backup and Recovery

Imagine if you lost access to a significant portion of your data permanently, what kind of impact would that have on your recruitment agency? A quick ponder on this question shows the value of keeping your data backed up and recoverable across your business. Not only is it an invaluable safety net, it also empowers compliance.

You can access a backup and recovery solution using a cloud backup platform, via an MSP such as Virtual IT, or a backup as a service provider.

Vendor and Third-Party Risk Management

Ensuring that you are working with trustworthy, cyber secure vendors is also important for your recruitment agency. To the extent they are vulnerable and unsecured, this will also translate into vulnerabilities in your data protection and cyber security posture.

Many of the biggest solution providers that a recruitment agency may be using, such as Microsoft, HubSpot, or Google will offer enterprise-grade security on their platforms, but for smaller vendors, it’s worth enquiring into their cyber security measures and accreditations to ensure that their services and infrastructure are secure.

Cyber Insurance

Cyber insurance provides a financial safety net to businesses in the event of a data breach cyber incident, including cyber-attacks. While policies and coverage vary between providers, they can be a helpful net to utilise to maximise your business continuity and resiliency. With Cyber Essentials certification, it’s possible to access £25’000 of free cyber insurance.


The Cyber Essentials Scheme: Certifying Robust Cyber Security

Launched by the UK government in 2014, the Cyber Essentials scheme provides a certification programme and a foundational cyber security framework for businesses. It is designed to offer fundamental layers of protection that can help a business to stay secure against a range of today’s cyber threats.

The scheme focuses on five key controls:

    • Secure internet connection
    • Secure devices and software
    • Control of access to your data and services
    • Protection from viruses and other malware
    • Keeping devices and software up to date.

By meeting the requirements of these key controls, you not only secure your agency but also demonstrate a robust security posture.

There are two levels of certification – Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus – which offer a valuable form of social proof to your current and potential customers alike.

Managed IT service providers can help your agency to meet these standards and get certified under the scheme. This certification is more than a compliance tick-box; it’s a testament to your commitment to cyber security, which will enhance your credibility in the eyes of your clients and candidates alike.


Keeping Recruitment, IT and Cyber Security in Focus

Whether you implement cyber security measures internally or outsource them to a managed IT services provider, creating a robust cyber security posture can give your agency a range of benefits. One of the key ones, being an undisrupted focus on serving your clients and candidates, and growing your agency.

Like cyber security, making technology work for your business is an excellent way to achieve more, using less, and to make doing what you do best more seamless and accessible. By improving cyber security and IT proactively, you can enrich your commercial success, profitability, and scalability.


Cyber Security is a Continuous Journey

It’s a myth that any business is 100% secure, but there are many ways to greatly reduce the probability and impact of risks. Take the time to review your cyber security at regular intervals and to continue refining and expanding on it.

There are many simple measures you can implement fairly quickly, while others can be implemented further down the line. The main thing is to get started! By iterating on your cyber security posture, you can grant your business smoother sailing, enhance its competitiveness and compliance, and keep it resilient against today and tomorrow’s threats to business continuity.


Virtual IT: Trusted Cyber-Security First Technology Partners

Based in London, Virtual IT are a trusted IT partner to over 700 businesses and schools across the UK with a leading cyber-security first approach. We provide a fully managed IT solution focusing on proactivity, strategy and security. We help our clients to tap into the wealth of advantages that secure technology can offer to them. See how in our case studies.

Want to see the difference Virtual IT can make for your business? Book a meeting with us today, we’ll be glad to support you with any tech challenge that you’re facing.