The human factor is the weakest link in cybersecurity. According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, 82% of all breaches in 2021 involved the human element. With an insider threat incident’s cost averaging a whopping $15,378,635 million, you simply can’t afford human error in IT processes.
Human error in cybersecurity occurs in many different ways. In some cases, threat actors target employees to gain privileged access to IT systems. But for the most part, human error stems from negligence and naivety. Here’s how human error becomes a cybersecurity problem:
- Poor password practices. Using weak passwords, reusing passwords, and sharing credentials make it easier for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to user accounts.
- Falling for scams. Company employees and customers can easily fall for social engineering attacks such as phishing, pretexting, tailgating, and baiting.
- Negligence. Dismissing critical security rituals — such as backing up data, logging out of protected accounts, and updating software applications — can jeopardize a company’s cybersecurity.
- Hardware/software misconfiguration. The IT team or end-users can open attack gateways by unknowingly or intentionally misconfiguring network devices, workstations, servers, or cloud systems.
- Poor cyber hygiene. Some employees take unnecessary risks when working online or handling sensitive data, such as using public Wi-Fi, leaving live devices unattended, browsing blacklisted websites, etc.
Fortunately, you can reduce the human-related situations that threaten your institution’s cybersecurity in the following ways:
Identify error-prone parts of your business
Begin by identifying the parts of your business most susceptible to human-related threats. This basically means listing all HR-IT touchpoints and ranking them according to security sensitivity or vulnerability. The point of doing this is to know where to focus your human-targeted security efforts. Entries in this list may include:
- Remote workers
- User devices or endpoints
- Privileged accounts
- Manual data entry points
- The IT management/support staff
Understand employees and their needs
In some cases, human error is purely unintended. Your employees may be doing the best they can, but the nature of their job prevents them from upholding cybersecurity. For instance, the employee may be too preoccupied to notice a malicious email or a misconfigured app if the job is overwhelmingly stressful or demanding. Plus, overworking can tempt employees to take dangerous IT shortcuts.
Understanding the underlying causes of human error will guide you in devising effective preventative measures.
Create an efficient and strict security policy
A cybersecurity policy is a set of technical and behavioral guidelines for employees designed to minimize the risk of cyberattacks. A comprehensive policy also outlines the actions taken in response to a breach incident. It essentially lists rules about how employees interact with IT systems and data.
The policy should contain the following items:
- Acceptable user policy
- Data/IT access and control policy
- Cyber incident response procedures
- Data security and privacy compliance considerations
- Remote access control
- Bring your own device (BYOD) policy
- Disaster recovery plan
- Employee security accountability and responsibilities
Train your employees on cybersecurity
Regular security training is the most effective way to turn your biggest security liability into a vital security asset. Some employees take actions that jeopardize cybersecurity simply because they do not know any better.
Ensure that all your employees understand the digital threats they face and how to avoid them. And equip them with the necessary skills and tools to identify, evade, and report imminent threats.
Limit staff access to sensitive data
Checking the risk of human error in data handling means reducing the number of employees permitted to view or manipulate sensitive information systems. Ensure that employees only have access to the IT systems and data they need to complete their job. For instance, an HR manager has no business looking at customer data. This is called the principle of least privilege (PoLP), and it should be part of your cybersecurity policy.
Use automation for repetitive tasks to reduce mishaps
Automation is your friend when it comes to cybersecurity. That’s because it reduces or eliminates erroneous human involvement in sensitive IT processes. Most insider threats are unintentional. So, taking the human factor out of the equation greatly minimizes security risks.
Insider threats are only growing more prevalent and damaging. It’s about time you restructured your security framework to curb human error. And GB Tech can help you do just that. GB Tech is your one-stop cybersecurity solution. Leverage our team of experts and cutting-edge digital resources to develop effective cybersecurity systems tailored to your organization. Contact us today to get started.