Data Security - A Beekeeper's Guide

Cybercrime seems to be everywhere today - whether Identity Theft, Cryptolocker, or Spear Phishing - it’s a problem that’s just not going away. We know that education is one of the most potent ways of combating it, however, how do you actually get the message across to everyone? And how can you build a culture that’s proactive on data security? Often when I ask myself culture questions, I turn to the best community on earth - my 100,000 honey bees (yes, really).Each organization (hive) consists of 50,000 members, with one strong CEO / leader (a queen), full-time employees (worker bees) and contractors (drone bees).

The leader lays down the foundation of the hive to help it grow and sets its culture – somewhere on the scale between calm and aggressive. Often the more aggressive (and protective) a hive is:

  • the more honey it produces
  • the less disease it has
  • the more protected it is against pests and predators

Worker bees have dedicated goals within the organisation. These duties are split up into two different roles - a mobile user (Forager bee) and an internal user (House bee).

Drones have one dedicated task, and once this is completed they are ‘let go’, and their user account deleted (just as your user accounts should be when staff move on!).

Along with the individual dedicated tasks a successful honey bee colony has, they all have a collective focus - to grow a secure organisation.

So how can this super organisation teach us security culture?  By learning from simple things that a honey bee colony does, such as:


The honey bee is excellent at educating.  All bees start out as house bees / internal user before being promoted to a worker bee / mobile user, at 49 days of age. The same could be said for data security in an organisation; every employee should know how to keep the company’s data safe before taking on the added responsibility of working remotely.

An education program or workshop on how to keep your data secure would be an ideal start. However, you will need to rinse and repeat regularly to ensure all of your staff are kept up-to-date with the latest security landscape.


When a honey bee finds a new source of food or water, it will dance to communicate its exact location to the other bees by walking straight ahead, shaking its abdomen, and beating its wings. Another way they communicate is by the use of pheromones when a honey bee stings – this alerts other bees to go on the offensive as well.

Luckily, we don't need to rely on people dancing (or their pheromones) to communicate in the modern workplace. However, we do need to communicate - in the event of a cybersecurity attack it's essential that your employees know what’s going on and who they can communicate with - it just takes one employee to have their account compromised for it to bring down an entire organisation, especially if it goes unreported!

The best bet is to have policies in place that give your employees the information that they can refer to in the event of a data breach or emergency.


When a bee checks out of a colony, they are archived for good.

The same thing should be performed in your organisation - having a good user policy is a great place to start. Cybercriminals prey on exit user accounts that are left lingering; they use them as a way to hack into an account and compromise data.

Another policy every organisation should consider is a password policy. Keeping your password secure by having a minimum ten characters (including numbers, both uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols) is a great place to start.

In 2017, cyberattacks in Australia continued to grow dramatically. Cybercriminals can often glean – from publicly available information - everything they need to target an organisation with a sophisticated attack, and some estimate there is a 1 in 4 chance of your organisation experiencing a data breach at some point.

If we as a community (and you as an organisation) are to fight back, we need an aggressive and protective colony – by driving a culture that knows how to sting! We can do this by educating, communicating and archiving where ever we can.

Five Ways to Stay Secure Online Guide


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Posted by Lachie Dixon

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