In today's digital age, cybersecurity is of utmost importance to businesses. With data breaches, hacking attempts, and cyber threats rising, companies invest significant resources in securing their systems and networks. According to Checkpoint Research, cyberattacks are increasing worldwide, with 38% more cyberattacks per week on corporate networks in 2022, compared to 2021.
With the rising costs of preventing cyberattacks, one critical element often gets overlooked - the human factor. According to the IBM Cyber Security Intelligence Index Report, 95% of cyber security breaches are primarily caused by human error. Unfortunately, despite all the technological advancements, people remain the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. Whether it's inadvertent actions or malicious intent, human error can cause devastating consequences for an organization. Here are 5 reasons why and how to mitigate them.
Lack of Cybersecurity Awareness
A lack of awareness is one of the most significant reasons people are the weakest link in cybersecurity. Many employees may need to learn the basic cybersecurity practices that can help prevent an attack. For example, they may fall for a phishing scam or use the same password for all their accounts. Therefore, training employees on cybersecurity awareness and how to identify and report suspicious activities is crucial. Training will ensure your employees understand the mechanisms of spam, phishing, spear phishing, malware, ransomware and social engineering and can apply this knowledge in their day-to-day job.
Another major challenge businesses face is insider threats. Insider threats refer to any threat to an organization's security that comes from within, such as employees, contractors, or partners. It can be intentional or unintentional, but the damage caused can be significant. Companies should have a comprehensive plan to monitor, prevent, and respond to insider threats. This includes regular security audits and employee background checks.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Many companies allow their employees to bring their own devices to work, such as smartphones or laptops. While it may increase productivity, it also poses a cybersecurity risk. Employees may use unsecured Wi-Fi networks or download malicious applications, which can compromise the company's network. Establishing a comprehensive BYOD policy that outlines the security measures employees must take and the consequences of non-compliance is critical.
Mistakes happen, and employees are no exception. A simple error can lead to a significant data breach. Whether it's accidentally sending an email to the wrong person or clicking on a malicious link, these human errors can result in dire consequences. Companies must implement measures such as penetration testing, regular data backups and mandatory password changes to mitigate the damage caused by human error.
Lack of Updating and Patching
Outdated software and hardware pose a security threat as they may have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Employees who ignore software and hardware patches or updates pose a security risk to companies. This can lead to vulnerabilities that would have been closed by patch updates, which expose the organization to increased cybersecurity risk. Organizations should have policies that require regular patching and updates to their software and hardware. In 2017, one of the largest credit reporting agencies, Equifax, suffered a massive data breach that exposed the personal information of millions of consumers. The hack was attributed to a vulnerability in the company's website software, which remained unpatched due to an employee's failure to install the necessary update.
The human factor is often neglected in cybersecurity planning but remains one of the most significant cybersecurity risks businesses face. Companies must invest in training, penetration testing, and monitoring a comprehensive cybersecurity policy to mitigate these risks. By raising awareness, limiting access to crucial information, implementing effective password management practices, and handling critical data with care, organizations can reduce their vulnerability to cyber threats. Remembering people's role in cybersecurity and implementing proactive measures to minimize vulnerabilities can ensure that companies reduce their risk.
Contact us today if you would like some help mitigating your IT security risks.