Cyber security is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. As you protect your computer systems using cyber security technology, the battle against malicious attack is often billed as technology vs cyber threat. Of course, technology is very important, but technology alone is not enough to protect against modern day cyber crime.

At ActionPoint, we believe there are three key pillars of cyber security – technology, people and processes. Technology is key but if you don’t have strict processes in place and your people are not educated on how to use the technology, you leave yourself open to vulnerabilities. In this article, we will break down the three key pillars of cyber security.




People within our organisations are the first of the three key pillars of cyber security.

Cyber attacks can take on dozens of forms. Attackers can use brute force to barrel through a password-protected interface. Malicious software (such as ransomware or other types of malware) can be inadvertently installed onto your system. However, some of the most effective forms of cyber attack are those that target people.

According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, phishing or other forms of social engineering cause 93% of all data breaches. These practices usually involve emails that appear to be sent from trusted sources, with the goal of gaining personal information. A house can have all the security systems in the world but it’s worth nothing if you hand the intruder the keys. The same is true for cyber security. That is why it is important to view your people as your first line of defence.

Organisations must work hard to introduce and promote a strong cyber security culture. As the first line of defence, employees must realise the importance of a safety-first approach to cyber security and using best practices at all times. The threat of cyber attack is always present and constantly evolving. Employees must continually be educated on the latest attack techniques and ways to spot them. On top of expanding employee knowledge, continuous education ensures that cyber security always stays at the forefront of people’s minds.


Processes should define the activities, roles and documentation used by an organisation to mitigate cyber security risks. The implementation of effective processes are key to the success of a cyber security strategy. Educating people within the organisation is critically important, but the correct policies, procedures and processes need to be in place thereafter.

What should a staff member do if they think they are being targeted by phishing?  Microsoft 365 carries out targeted phishing campaigns, posing as a trusted source to gain information and repeats this process at different intervals. This is very effective at keeping employees on the alert. Implementing password and authentication policies are also effective forms of defence.

We have spoken before about how people are the front line of cyber security defence. One of the key processes you can adopt in protecting your front line is the ‘Principle of Least Privilege’. This is a process by which users are only given enough access to perform a task and nothing more. This reduces the surface area for attack and prevents the opportunity for low-level users to be targeted. Having these types of processes in place, gives your people an extra edge in the fight against cyber crime.


In the modern workplace, cyber threats are more difficult to monitor than ever before. Workplace flexibility means that employees can access company information from any device and any location. This means there are far more points of risks for an organisation.  Effective cyber security involves understanding the risks faced by your organisation and then putting the right technologies in place to protect against them. A comprehensive line of defence against cyber crime could include an antivirus, firewall, content filtering and encryption technology.

Some other technologies include:

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) – 81% of hacking related breaches are related to weak or stolen passwords. MFAs provides a more secure means of user authentication that is effectively password-less. Read more here.
  • Sophos Sandstorm – Sandstorm provides targeted attack protection, visibility and analysis by detecting, blocking and responding to evasive unknown threats. This is particularly effective when combating malware.
  • Intercept X – This platform comes into play when an attack gets through a firewall to the end user, stopping encryption after the program has started.

It is always encouraging to hear from organisations that are eager to introduce cyber security technologies. However, technology alone is not enough.

ActionPoint recommends a multi-pronged approach to security incorporating awareness, education, policies, procedures, technology, and tools. You must educate and build awareness amongst your people, introduce solid policies and procedures and integrate the correct technology and tools. Understanding these pillars is the first step in creating a more robust, secure and resilient defence against cyber crime.

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