Become a human firewall


Aug 3, 2022

What does a vacationing employee checking their TVA email and an onsite employee who notices a secured door is open have in common? Both need to act as a “human firewall” to help keep TVA secure. 

A human firewall refers to the commitment of a group of employees to protect their organization from cybercrime or other security threats.  

“The more employees committed to being a part of the firewall, the stronger it is,” said Brandy Barbee, TVA Cybersecurity Governance specialist. “Regardless of the type of threat, there can always be a better outcome if a strong human firewall is in place.” 

Below are five traits of a human firewall. To learn more about ways to put them into practice both at TVA and elsewhere, click here: https://cybersecurity.tva.gov/docs/Human_Firewall.pdf 

Trait 1: Thinking before clicking. A human firewall reads emails carefully, hovers over links to display the full URL, and treats all requests for sensitive data with skepticism.  

Trait 2: Practicing situational awareness. A human firewall watches for things that don’t look right and takes necessary precautions to secure spaces, belongings and sensitive information.  

Trait 3: Respecting privileged access. A human firewall closes and locks doors, prevents tailgating, sets strong passwords and keeps their credentials secure.  

Trait 4: Reporting incidents immediately. Human firewalls contact the correct authorities when incidents happen. At TVA, this could be TVA Cybersecurity, TVA Police or members of your site or business unit leadership. 

Trait 5: Always following policy.  Human firewalls follow policies at all times and ask questions if unsure. 

“In today’s world, it’s important to never assume safety and security is being managed by someone else and therefore doesn’t need our attention,” said Director of TVA Police and Emergency Management Todd Peney. “Becoming a human firewall means putting wise thinking into action to prevent incidents before they happen.”