Building Human Firewalls Critical for Protecting against Cyber Threats

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Swan Island Networks releases new white paper to help address human element of Cyber Security

We need to deploy early warning awareness services that support everyone from cyber security engineers to the traveling salesperson and the receptionist at your front desk…because cyber security is no longer just an IT issue. - Charles Jennings

Security intelligence innovator Swan Island Networks, Inc. today released a new whitepaper, Building Human Firewalls, to introduce new strategies to protect organizations from expanding cyber threats and bolster their cyber security efforts. Even though security technologies are getting smarter, hackers are still exploiting a critical gap in our defenses: the gap between cyber best practices, and the actual practices used every day by the workforce. The new white paper, authored by noted security expert and Swan Island Networks Inc. CEO, Charles Jennings, outlines new approaches for organizations to leverage their workforce to help protect the organization from cyber threats. It emphasizes that awareness, compliance and education efforts within the enterprise are essential components for creating effective cyber security defenses.

Building Human Firewalls asserts that the computing security model of the past decade, based on firewalls, anti-viral services, intrusion detection controls, etc., is no longer enough to help organizations mitigate cyber risk. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated; social engineering exploits, specifically advanced phishing attacks, are becoming epidemic and human error is the most common cause of network breaches and data loss. A recent study found that 80% of all data breaches reported by the U.S. federal government from January 2009 through May 2012 were caused by human error. This white paper asserts that we need to expand the focus from perimeter defense, and the false notion that our internal networks are completely safe; and move toward a faster, more intelligent, more agile approach to cyber security.

“We need to deploy early warning awareness services that support everyone from cyber security engineers to the traveling salesperson and the receptionist at your front desk…because cyber security is no longer just an IT issue,” says Jennings.

Jennings proposes that organizations engage with their workforces to create human firewalls. New human firewalls use Awareness, Compliance, and Education (ACE) initiatives as part of comprehensive cyber defense.

Organizations that demonstrate the principles of building effective Human Firewalls:

  •     Have an engaged, aware, well-educated workforce
  •     Have clear policies that prioritize the protection of networks and data, and which foster compliance and security standards
  •     Are agile and responsive, and know that in an era lacking bulletproof IT security, cyber breaches are not so much as prevented as managed and mitigated
  •     Have learned to circle the wagons internally, increasing cyber risk collaboration and communication;
  •     Are obtaining critical intelligence by sharing information externally, with trusted partners and government agencies.

To read the white paper in its entirety and learn how to deploy new initiatives for creating cyber awareness, compliance and education within your organization, please visit Swan Island Networks’ website at:

Charles Jennings has spoken extensively on cyber security issues, including at TEDx, and is currently scheduled to speak about Building Human Firewalls at the upcoming National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Master Class—an advanced course designed exclusively by and for experienced corporate directors, held in Boston, Massachusetts June 13-14; the Technology Association of Oregon New Challenges in Data Security—Are You Prepared? event held in Portland, Oregon on June 5th; and the 2013 NACD Board Leadership Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, October 13-15. Please email mary.artz (at) swanisland (dot) net for more information on Charles’ upcoming events or for booking information.

Swan Island Networks, Inc., is the provider of Cybero, a software-as-a-service application that provides cyber security awareness, compliance and education services. Cybero is powered by Swan Island’s TIES® platform, which currently supports over 200 enterprises, including 20% of the Fortune 100. In a decade of providing security information services to government agencies and global companies, Swan Island has seen firsthand how human cyber risk impacts IT systems. The company is now working to reduce this risk by helping customers develop new human firewalls…with Cybero. For more information, please call 503.796.7926 or visit:

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Mary Artz
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