Employees are the main access points for cyber attackers, and every company needs to ensure that the employees are part of their consistent cyber plan. With customers becoming more aware of the laws governing their data, companies must build a robust data privacy strategy to retain customers and avoid being sued.
You need to understand that attackers rarely care about your company’s size and the revenue it generates. They only care about how much money they can get from your company and expose your data.
Why employees are the weakest link
To understand why employees are the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain, you need to consider three primary categories that help to protect data. They include employees, processes, and technology. Without these categories, there will be a lot of business email compromise attacks and malware attacks. Each category will provide in-depth knowledge of employees prone to errors that lead to business attacks.
Unless a tool is interfered with or not updated accordingly, it’s very challenging for the attackers to bypass the technology you have used in your company and hack your systems. Technology never makes mistakes! All tools will do exactly what they are supposed to do as long as they are kept in good condition.
Technology provides reputable protection against all the elements that could result in a possible attack. With the use of machine learning and AI, most of the programs written by software engineers for different applications cannot be bypassed easily.
Just like technology, most processes initiated for security purposes do not “act” on their own. For different processes, you must set steps that people will follow so they can often adhere to the security procedures without failing. The more the steps are followed, the more the business will achieve consistency in preventing attacks.
Fortunately, you can implement a series of instructions to let the system alert you when the processes are not running effectively. What determines the level of complexity of your processes is the business you are involved in. You easily find employees dealing in cryptocurrency, checking stock prices, downloading movies, streaming music, etc., which needs to be controlled with sturdy processes.
Unlike technology and processes, employees are complex, and they cannot perform the same process consistently for long without making errors. Fatigue sets in, reducing efficiency, and attackers can then take advantage and attack the business. Sometimes when tired, employees tend to make their own independent decisions.
Employees are always prone to error when no clear solution exists. When situations are unpredictable, humans will end up making the same mistake over and over. The inability to detect attackers on time affects their ability to prevent people from making the same mistake repeatedly. And this makes them the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain.
Cybersecurity risks caused by employees
Employee error and other issues can lead to several cybersecurity risks, and they include.
As businesses adopt more filing hosting technologies, there is a need to create more passwords for employees to access business resources. This is a huge challenge, resulting in many weak passwords. Unfortunately, the employees may not always remember all the passwords they have created.
Requesting a password reset every time leads to wasting time and reducing security coverage. As a result, the employees will be forced to use passwords they can easily remember. Ultimately this means they will often default to using the same password for multiple files, using a series of numbers easy to cram, or using a loved one’s name as a password.
Misconfiguration is a major issue facing most businesses around the world. Programs written by humans are inconsistent, meaning most of them do not fit into the purpose they were meant for. Most of the mistakes employees make, especially those working as system administrators or developers can lead to data breaches.
For instance, the system administrator may forget to change the default password on a particular server, which increases the possibility of being hacked by cybercriminals. In other cases, they may copy and paste a configuration from one serverless function to a disparate one.
Most employees hate creating new passwords or implementing long authentication processes for unknown reasons. Others even avoid the multi-factor authentication method. This makes the business system more vulnerable to attacks than ever before. The hacker just needs to crack the password with their sophisticated tools, and this makes it easier to access the system.
With the multi-factor authentication method, even if the hacker cracks the password, they won’t access the business system without your intervention. Waiting for the code creates a huge barrier to adoption. Most hackers want quick resources, and none of them will dare waste time trying something that is not working well.
Types of attacks that target employees
Employees need to understand the common threats that target their business organizations. It will help them plan and prevent these attackers on time before infiltrating their system. The common types of attacks that target humans include.
Social engineering attacks
In this case, the hackers focus on exploiting vulnerabilities in human nature. The attackers prey on emotions and invoke urgency so that the target victims won’t stop to think and take the intended action per the hacker’s instructions. Due to urgency, the attackers take action against the company, and the effects are devastating.
Malware and ransomware attacks
In most cases, malware programs and ransomware are more successful because employees fail to apply the security updates that can prevent common vulnerabilities. Of course, installing new updates takes time, and if the employees are more focused on profits, they are likely to postpone the process to later dates. If cybercriminals detect these vulnerabilities, they will use them to attack the business.
Indeed, the employees are the weakest link to cybersecurity due to human error. Without proper care and following proper security practices, the business will likely fall victim to cyber-attacks. Employees must understand the common attacks directed at them and other practices that can lead to a data breach.