Why employees are the weakest link in cybersecurity

Why employees are the weakest link in cybersecurity

When most people think about cybersecurity, they think about technology. Antivirus, firewalls, and intrusion prevention are among the first things that usually come to mind. These are all things that are managed by the IT department, but cybersecurity isn’t solely up to them.

Contrary to the common misconception, cybercriminals aren’t always highly skilled hackers like those portrayed in Hollywood movies. A lot of the time, they don’t know any more than the average person about the inner workings of technology. Instead, they exploit people and not vulnerabilities in IT. That’s why cybersecurity is, first and foremost, a people problem.

#1. Susceptibility to social engineering scams

While many of the most dangerous attacks are still perpetrated by skilled hackers, criminals usually have a much easier time accessing and stealing confidential data with scams. They know that the biggest vulnerability in the typical business is human ignorance rather than issues with technology itself.

Social engineering scams are growing more sophisticated. Unlike the obvious scams sent out en masse and picked up by built-in spam filters, the biggest threats are targeted spear phishing attacks carried out using stolen account credentials or by bad actors masquerading as someone the target victim knows personally.

#2. Lack of technical expertise

Undoubtedly, the human element is what most attackers prefer to exploit, simply because it’s easier. Most people aren’t nearly as familiar as they should be with the systems they use every day and the threats facing them.

Consider, for example, how most people reuse passwords. Lots of people don’t even protect their smartphones with a PIN code, even though they routinely use them for things like online banking and shopping. It’s this general lack of awareness and essential technical knowledge that makes employees such a lucrative target for cybercriminals.

#3. Risk of insider threat

Although most data breaches happen by accident or outright negligence, a few are deliberately perpetrated by employees themselves. Rogue employees can deliberately leak sensitive information or sell it to the highest bidder on the black market. This is a particularly common problem with those who have left the company on bad terms.

Reducing the risk of insider threat isn’t about oppressively monitoring everything employees do. It’s about making sure everyone understands the rules and holding people accountable to one another. From an administrative perspective, it’s essential to retain full visibility into every digital asset and be able to revoke access rights as soon as employees leave your business.

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#4. Inadequate remote working policies

Today’s workforce is more flexible than ever before. There are even entire businesses with hundreds of employees who don’t have a set workplace. Instead, they carry out operations in the cloud, working with remote talent through online collaboration platforms. But flexibility and convenience also come with risks.

When employees are using their own devices and working wherever they want, it’s easy to stop thinking about the rules and best practices. For example, they may connect to unsecured public networks like the ones in a local cafe or an airport, leaving their devices vulnerable to attacks from cybercriminals using the same network.

That’s why every modern business needs a robust remote work and bring your own device (BYOD) policy that clearly states and enforces good security rules and practices. It’s also important for businesses to implement mobile device management (MDM) tools so they can limit the data remote workers can access and wipe mobile devices in case they’re lost or stolen.

#5. Reliance on manual processes

Just like technology, humans aren’t perfect. But there are some things technology can do far better than people can, particularly when it comes to routine manual processes. Manual data entry, for instance, is a highly repetitive task where tedium alone is enough to encourage human error.

The sage advice is that, if a process can be automated, then it should be. Leave people up to the strategy and decision-making, and have machines handle the repetitive manual processes like cybersecurity monitoring and data entry. This way, you can minimise errors that can put your business at risk of a cybersecurity incident.

Netcom Solutions provides comprehensive cybersecurity tools against highly technical hacks, but we also pay attention to the human element of cybersecurity. We provide security advice and training recommendations to ensure your employees are not the weakest link. If you have a business in the Miami area, call us today to learn more about our services.

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