Advice provided by Ashley Halsey, a professional writer with Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays.
Published here February 2020


Musings Index

Cyber-Security: What Project Managers Need to Know

So, you have landed this new project as its project manager. It is big, or it is complex, or both. You will need a team of several people who will likely come and go as the various phases of the project evolve. Moreover, your team members will not all be in the same room, or even in the same building, or perhaps they may even be contributing from across the world.

Obviously, the thing to do is to establish a web site where background information can be stored and made permanently available to selected members of the team. That information will include a whole variety of progress and other reports as required by other members of the team and the upper management responsible for the project. The web site can also be used to provide live communication channels for both communications between individuals, as well as for full-scale meetings. However, there is every possibility that much of the information exchanged will be confidential.

As with all electronic communications, Cyber-Security will be a serious concern. Here, Ashley Halsey[1] has kindly offered to help us understand and deal with such issues. As she says:

"An efficient project management strategy is crucial regardless of your project goals. However, without the right information and knowledge about cyber-security, your project could put your business at risk of exploitation. Risk planning must include the project level risk planning, including security matters throughout the process. Therefore, it is important that project managers learn everything they can about the basics of cyber-security."

Here is Ashley's advice on the key information that project managers must know about cyber-security to avoid threats to your project and to your organization.

Data Security Matters

Data breaches will have a major impact on businesses in coming years, and this will cost businesses millions on average, in addition to the lasting damage your organization will suffer to its image and reputation. No matter what kind of data your project needs to manage, you have to be protecting it. Project managers must be aware of the value of the data, what kind of data it is and whose, and what the possible effects would be if there were a data breach.

According to Nancy Kreegan, a project manager at Writinity and Last Minute Writing, "project managers have to think about what if a breach were to happen, what kind of data and how much of it might be involved and affected. Data must be protected at any price, especially for organizations dealing with extremely sensitive data, such as health, financial, or security records."

The costs also have to be kept in mind, so organizations can speak with their clients about the expenses for hiring consultants and the right technology for data protection based on your company data. Cyber-security is an expensive business, there's no doubt about it. However, the risk of a breach is even more, and data breaches cost a lot more than cyber security. Additionally, there are more and more laws in place to force companies to comply with data protection regulations or they will face heavy fines, especially in the EU with the General Data Protection Regulations.

Cyber Security for Each Project

Cyber security is essential for each and every project, no matter the level of sensitivity of the data. Your project cannot be the weak link when it comes to your organization's policy on cyber security. You can't even know for sure what are the possible points of exploitation that might be opened during your project. If you're hiring contractors for the project, you should be running research on the security policies and responses of each client so they can understand how to complete your project without a breach. The consultant is also a sign that you're willing to invest in a project and make it successful.

As a project manager, you must study and understand the different security solutions that your organization uses. This will help build trust between you and your clients, and keep your project completion schedule on track. Most project managers in reality aren't ethical hackers, but it doesn't hurt to learn more about cyber security and key principles. Even knowing a little bit can be very helpful in lowering the chance of getting hacked or breached.

Security Is Everyone's Concern

Project managers can't afford to assume that all of their colleagues are on board with data protection or even understand the possible consequences such as getting infected with "ransomware". You should be responsible by educating and sharing your protective steps with your team, your clients, and your senior management. Daniel Lee, a cyber-security expert at Draft Beyond and Research Papers, UK, says to his readers and project manager clients that:

"if people feel like you're going into too much focus on security, at least you won't have an incident that you will regret later. Good security is often unnoticed, and a security situation will only draw attention if it struggles."

You can't assume that someone else will focus on cyber security, especially when it comes to your project. You should speak with the security team first and fill them in on the project. If you don't do that, they won't know what to look out for and what to address.

Cyber-security risk management means thinking about the possible threats and exposing vulnerabilities. When you are doing your risk planning, you must not only think about the project processes and timelines involved, but also include a focus on security.

1. Ashley Halsey is a professional writer with Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays and is involved in cyber security and analytics projects around the country. She enjoys helping businesses be prepared for cyber attacks and risk management. In her spare time. she researches the latest technological developments in cyber-security.
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