By Chris Griggs, Founder and CEO
Security clearances are not something that the average business person knows much about. If you ask some random employees what they think a security clearance is, you will probably hear words like secret agents, assassins, and Area 51. In their minds, security clearances are for people like James Bond. Not themselves.
But if you actually spend some time learning about security clearances and their history, you will see that modern private industry clearances are quite relevant in today’s corporate arena.
Reason #1 – Security clearances provide a proven solution to an ongoing business problem
Security clearances were originally created by the government as a way of certifying that a person’s national loyalty was absolute, so that they could then be trusted with restricted information. Getting a clearance meant undergoing a rigorous background investigation, receiving training on ways to recognize and protect sensitive information, and staying up-to-date on the latest threats. In short, security clearances were about securing people against information solicitation attempts.
In the present technological boom, much focus has been given to cyber security. So much focus, in fact, that information thieves have found it easier to revert back to targeting people once again. They are defeating technology by bypassing its strongest points.
Reason #2 – Security clearances foster trust
Have you ever wondered why businesses spend an inordinate amount of money and time conducting background investigations, credit checks, drug screenings, and orientation training when you’re a new employee? What they really want to know – whether or not they can articulate it this clearly – is if you can be trusted. They want to know that you will not criminalize, embarrass, or negligently harm the company through your actions on and off the clock.
Security clearances help establish that trust in a much more direct way by exceeding the basic screening requirements, providing targeted training specific to protecting the company, and repeating the process at set intervals. Employers know that people with security clearances are far less likely to harm their companies.
Reason #3 – Security clearances drive a culture of information security
A novel feature of security clearances is that they are owned by the individual, much in the same way that a professional certification or college degree might be owned by an individual and can be taken with them throughout their career. In following this model, security clearances effectively disperse risk ownership throughout a company by giving employees “skin in the game”. Clearance holders had to work hard to earn their clearance, and so they will take extra care to protect their credential and reputation as an information security champion. This heightened level of awareness both encourages other employees to be security conscious as well as discourages would-be malicious employees who may think twice about stealing information when they know their coworkers are not ignorant about data theft.
Reason #4 – Security clearances give companies a competitive advantage
Given the seemingly perpetual headlines related to data loss, as well as recent breaches that are teaching the public about the real-world consequences of information theft, potential customers and business partners are becoming more conscientious about who they do business with. A company that employs individuals with active security clearances demonstrates that it is willing to go the extra step for its customers and partners to protect their sensitive information.
Reason #5 – Security clearances are not just for the government anymore
In the past, security clearances were the exclusive domain of government agencies, created to help protect sensitive government information from exposure. The modern evolution of information threats is a really just the reemergence of an old problem. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Today, companies and individuals can seek out and earn private industry security clearances for themselves. In doing so, they foster trust, create a culture of information security, and secure a competitive advantage in a difficult economy. Companies can now fight back against social engineering and insider threats by securing their human perimeter with a modern take on an old solution, the private industry security clearance.