Is the company’s cybersecurity weakest link its employees?

Numerous experts believe that the weakest link in a company’s cybersecurity is the occupant of the area between the chair and the keyboard. Phishing assaults seem to be on the rise, indicating that workers constitute a greater security risk than any technical flaw.

Generally, successful workers across a company will seek the simplest answer, the best workaround. They place a premium on convenience, which may conflict with implementing the best security measures. They are often in a position to commit heinous acts.

The primary danger comes from workers’ having access to important or sensitive data, coupled with human error’s sometimes inevitable fallibility. Access to IT systems is required for many workers to do their tasks, and controlling such access is critical for protecting against insider threats. It is precisely in this area that many companies fall short.

Cybercriminals often target workers after discovering a vulnerability in a human in just a few minutes, as opposed to discovering flaws in software, which may take weeks. It is the least difficult route to choose.

Until recently, the predominant view in corporate information technology security was that breaches were mainly technical issues that should be resolved via different filters and upgrades, as well as sparkling new security software. However, it is a result of a mix of technology and humans. However, there is a reason for optimism since an increasing number of big and small businesses are implementing more uniform security rules and educating workers on what to do daily and what to look for.

The majority of human mistakes are unintentional. An employee opens a legitimate-looking file inadvertently, or an eager-to-please human resources staff member divulges sensitive personal information in response to an email purporting to be from a senior executive. A single incorrect email click or personal device access to business data may easily result in a breach; after all, it is often the weakest spot hackers target.

As companies strive to build more dynamic and efficient work environments by adopting remote access through a variety of mobile devices and cloud support, the notion of a network’s “perimeter” becomes hazier. Today’s degree of freedom and access enables employees to contribute much more than in the past, but it also introduces risks.

Many workers seem to be unaware that their credentials are the hackers’ primary goal, and that just clicking on a malicious link or downloading an infected file may be the first step toward compromising the whole company network.

Typically, the most elementary errors seem to be the most serious: an employee discovers an empty USB stick on the floor and inserts it, or an employee chooses passwords that are too simple to guess. Many individuals do not see their actions as unsafe or dangerous; rather, they view them as shortcuts or a way to promote or enable cooperation. Many workers even confess to often leaving their work computers open while they are away.

One would think that the new generation of workers entering the workforce—those who grew up with the internet and mobile phones and have always been aware of the looming threat of cybercrime—would automatically adopt better security practices.

However, the findings indicate that this is not the case: a whopping 87 percent of individuals aged 18 to 25 confessed to reusing passwords between personal and work accounts, with almost half of them doing so across personal and work accounts. Almost a third of these respondents also admitted to installing software on company devices or networks without the IT department’s permission.

Since even the most well-intentioned workers are imperfect, the organization must continue to contribute to stemming the increasing flood of attempted compromise. Security awareness training is a vital, basic, yet far too often underutilized tool that businesses can and should use. Humans are fallible, and they will make errors. Programs of instruction must be developed.

A decent, bite-size, accessible training program—both online and in-person—that covers a wide range of potential problems and attempts to engage with workers on a personal level is required. Additionally, role-based access provisioning is one of the most effective methods for controlling system access and ensuring that an employee has access to just the systems necessary to perform their job duties.

The ultimate conclusion should be that, since data is a business’s currency, and when apps are deployed, the issue of who has access to that data must be addressed and validated. Organizations must ensure full consistency in the implementation of security policies across environments—or as close to 100 percent consistency as feasible—and have a well-defined strategy in place to address risks caused by any gaps.

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