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The Weakest Link: Is Your Staff Letting in Security Threats?


Did you know that employees cause 82% of data breaches? No, this doesn't mean that your employees are siding with hackers and leaving the door wide open to shady characters. It means that your employees might take action or make errors that create loopholes hackers exploit. That is what makes them the weakest link.

The good news is that managers can address this problem and make employees one of the best defenses against hackers. However, it takes time to build that defense, and you'll need all hands on deck.

Why Are System Users Often the Weakest Links in Cybersecurity?

Employees must use technology to complete their work. They are exposed to risks while doing so, but they might not have cybersecurity training. Hackers know this and target these workers via phishing scams and other effective tactics.

Millennials and Gen Zs make up 38% of the current workforce worldwide. These two generations are the most tech-savvy in the office, but even they do not always understand how cybersecurity works.

Here are some additional reasons system users often present the most significant risks to businesses.

Lack of Awareness of Cybersecurity Threats

Many employees do not fully understand the extent and cost of cybersecurity threats. As a result, they don't take enough precautions when using computers and other digital devices. This often stems from an over-reliance on technical controls that create a false sense of security.

Use of Unsecured Networks

System users often use public networks like free Wi-Fi to access company information. They might not realize these networks are not secure and can create vulnerabilities hackers exploit.

Poor Password Management

Most people use the same passwords for multiple accounts and rarely change them ? if ever. Attackers can easily guess these passwords or use brute force attacks to gain access.

Not Following Company Policies

Lack of enforcement and the presence of a cybersecurity culture that doesn't value security can create severe risks. Helping other workers complete tasks is one of the top reasons employees breach policies, so managers will need to handle these cases carefully.

How Can Companies Build Better Cybersecurity Defenses?

There is no foolproof method for protecting data and networks. Even the most secure companies have faced cybersecurity threats or breaches. Still, companies can significantly reduce their risks by following these best practices.

Increase Cybersecurity Budgets

Businesses should consider increasing their cybersecurity spending to ensure they have the resources to protect their systems. This means investing in additional security tools, hiring more IT professionals, and training staff on best practices. It might also include investing in insurance. Ransomware can have devastatingly costly results, sometimes totaling millions of dollars. In ransom alone.

Require Strong Passwords

Employees should use strong passwords that combine upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Google also shares the following best practices for creating strong passwords:

  • Avoid including personal information in passwords.

  • Avoid reusing passwords from previous or other accounts.

  • Choose longer passwords because they are harder to crack.

  • Make passwords uniquely memorable, so there is no need to write them down.

Change Passwords Regularly

Businesses should require employees to change their passwords every 30 to 90 days. This helps reduce the risk of hackers compromising systems by cracking old passwords. Companies should also enforce policies that prohibit workers from changing passwords in a sequence. For example, employees might add numbers or letters at the end of existing passwords to reduce the need to memorize a whole new one. But, that makes even the most robust passwords easier to crack over time.

Train Employees on Cybersecurity Best Practices

Employees can be your most vigorous defense against cyberattacks if they understand the dangers and best practices for staying safe online. Companies should provide cybersecurity training that covers topics such as phishing scams and password hygiene. Additionally, managers should hold regular refresher training sessions to ensure employees stay up-to-date on the latest security techniques and strategies.

Build a Safety-First and Zero-Trust Cybersecurity Culture

Organizations should establish a culture of cybersecurity where employees prioritize safety and security above all other work goals. This culture should also be based on the zero-trust principle, meaning no party can access internal resources and networks until proven trustworthy. Managers should promote this mindset among their staff in the following ways:

  • Providing regular training

  • Enforcing penalties

  • Overseeing an open dialogue about potential risks and rewards

Invest in Technical Controls

To protect their systems from outside threats, businesses must invest in technical controls such as VPNs, firewalls, and antivirus software. It's essential to keep these technologies up-to-date and patch any vulnerabilities as quickly as possible.

Companies should also mandate the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA). It facilitates an extra layer of protection by requiring users to provide something they know (their password) and something they have (an access code sent to their phone).

Conduct Regular Security Audits

Regular audits help to identify any weak spots in a company's system. Consistent auditing keeps you informed of any new vulnerabilities or threats. Additionally, performing regular audits helps to ensure that your security systems are up-to-date and working correctly.

Complete Regular Data Backups

This ensures that if hackers access your system, you can quickly recover lost or stolen data. Companies should also store backups in an offsite location, such as cloud storage, to protect them from physical threats like fires or floods.

Implement Alert Management Systems

Alerts are an effective way to detect potential security threats or breaches quickly. Companies should implement a system that sends out alerts after incidents that meet specific criteria, such as if a user attempts to access a restricted page or tries to download sensitive data. This helps IT teams respond quickly and take appropriate action before catastrophic damage occurs.

What Is the Role of Alert Management Systems in Reducing Cybersecurity Risks?

Alert management systems do not necessarily prevent attacks from taking place. Even so, how companies respond to attempted breaches can make all the difference in whether that attempted breach materializes or the extent of the damage caused.

A sophisticated alert management system can significantly improve how businesses manage cybersecurity threats. Consider these benefits:

  • Alerts can provide the IT team with crucial information about the attack, such as what type of attack is taking place and how many users are affected.

  • Alert management systems improve communications, which enhances the likelihood of sticking to protocol.

  • Alerts can explain to workers why the network has gone down, so they don't make matters worse by trying to log in or constantly calling the IT team.

You can bolster your proactive strategies by understanding what increases your risk of expensive ransomware attacks. Our eBook provides an excellent starting point. Download it today.

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