The Essential Guide to Human Risk Management (HRM)

Human Risk Management

Cybersecurity has long been a topic of concern for businesses of all sizes. As threats evolve, so must defenses. However, many companies overlook a significant vulnerability — their own people. Welcome to the concept of human risk management.

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What is Human Risk Management?

Human risk management is a vital aspect of cybersecurity that focuses on identifying, analyzing, and addressing the risks associated with human behavior related to an organization’s processes and procedures. It’s not merely about having the most advanced firewall or the most sophisticated encryption. It’s about understanding that people are an integral part of your cybersecurity strategy.

Why is managing human risk important?

As we all know employees play major role keeping systems and sensitive information from falling into wrong hands. It is not always possible as human errors occur and data falls into wrong hands which causes financial, operational and reputational loss.

What are the human risk factors ?

The risk factors caused by humans starts with the simplest error someone could do without proper knowledge of the consequences. This can range from

  • Downloading attachment from unknown senders.
  • Falling for phishing emails.
  • Keeping simple password combinations. (such as name and numbers)
  • Careless storage of passwords.

Such simplest mistakes can cost huge to the organization ranging from loss of sensitive data, system compromises, cyber attacks etc.

These risks can maximize when an employee breaks company policy or rules , which usually happens due to ex-employees or disgruntled employees stealing data and selling to cyber criminals.

Cyber criminals often see humans as the easier target to gain access to the company and its data, which is why so many attacks are based on social engineering such as phishing, impersonation etc.

Firewalls, antivirus software, and encryption can protect your systems to a great extent. However, they’re not silver bullets. Relying solely on these measures may leave gaps in your defense, as they can’t mitigate risks arising from human behavior.

How to manage human Risk?

Human risk management involves several key elements that focus on mitigating risks associated with human factors in cybersecurity. These elements include:

Identifying the human risk

Identify the human risks present in your organization. Once you have a clear idea of who are likely to fall victim to attacks you can formulate corrective actions.

Human risk management is a combination of assessment and review.

Conduct a thorough assessment focusing on types of risks which are possessed by employees, partners and vendors. This can help in the mitigation process.

Every action, from email usage to software downloads, carries potential risks. By understanding human behavior and the risks it brings, you can develop strategies to address these vulnerabilities.

Creating corrective action plan

Once you are done with the identification phase you will have a clarity of employees and the risk they posses. Develop policy and procedures to address these risks.

The goal of human risk management is not just to patch vulnerabilities but to adopt a comprehensive strategy that minimizes the risk of human error.

This requires an approach that encompasses education, awareness, process refinement, and, where necessary, technology enhancements.

Security Controls

Rather having physical and technical controls in place to mitigate risks, organizations should consider to drive out the root problems such as human risk. Even though it is impossible to eradicate totally steps and controls can be taken to reach zero-trust mindset.

Installing MFA( Multi factor Authentication ), restricting access to sensitive data, Monitoring sensitive data, Data loss prevention systems and other measures.

The Review

Managing human risk is is an ongoing process. It requires constant monitoring and analysis. Regularly review policies, procedures and controls to make sure it is efficient and can tackle current cybersecurity threats and standards.

Human Risk Management Mindset

Rather than viewing employees as a liability, human risk management advocates for viewing them as a strength. With proper training and support, they can become the champions of your cybersecurity.

It involves learning from past breaches, incidents and updating policies to reflect the best practices. It also involves investing in new technology and systems to mitigate and eliminate human risk.

A human risk management mindset can result in a remarkable cultural shift within the organization. By recognizing the role of employees in cybersecurity, businesses can create an environment where everyone is an active participant in maintaining security.

How to Implement Human Risk Management in Organizations

Implementing human risk management in organizations involves a systematic approach that integrates various strategies and practices. Here are some key steps to consider when implementing human risk management

Automating Processes for Efficient Risk Management

To cut software costs and improve efficiency, organizations can integrate, upgrade, and automate processes in their human risk management approach. This ensures all boxes are checked, even when your security team has its hands full.

The Role of Security Awareness Program Owners

Security Awareness Program Owners (SAPOs) play a crucial role in creating, promoting, and measuring awareness campaigns. These efforts help employees understand the risks and their role in mitigating them.

Assessing the ROI of Human Risk Management Efforts

Like all business efforts, it’s important to measure the return on investment for human risk management. This goes beyond simple dollar figures. Reduced vulnerability to attacks, improved employee awareness, and fewer security incidents all signify a positive ROI.

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Ultimately, human risk management is about embracing the human element in cybersecurity. With the right approach, organizations can transform potential vulnerabilities into strengths, and empower their people to be frontline defenders against cyber threats.


What is the definition of human risk management?

Human risk management refers to the process of identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks that are directly or indirectly associated with human factors within an organization. It involves understanding and addressing the potential risks arising from human behavior, capabilities, limitations, and interactions in the workplace.

What are 3 examples of human risk?

Here are three examples of human risks:

1) Human Error: Mistakes or oversights that can lead to adverse consequences.
2) Employee Misconduct: Intentional actions violating company policies, ethics, or laws.
3) Insufficient Training: Lack of knowledge or skills hindering effective performance.

What is the human risk in cyber security?

In cybersecurity, human risk refers to the vulnerabilities and risks that arise from human behavior, actions, or decisions within an organization. It recognizes that people can be a weak link in the security chain, inadvertently or intentionally contributing to cyber threats and attacks

Lichumon is an enthusiastic SOC Analyst with a keen interest in exploring the complexities of the dark web and human risk factors in cybersecurity. Despite being early in his career, his eagerness to learn and adapt sets him apart. Balancing vigilance and curiosity, Lichumon navigates the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape with a sense of determination and commitment to continuous learning.