When it comes to cyber security, staff members are the first line of defence against cyberattacks. This is because they are the people directly engaging with the technology that runs your business every day. Researchers from Stanford University and a leading cybersecurity organisation found that approximately 88 percent of all data breaches are caused by employee mistakes.
This means that the level of their cyber security knowledge can either bolster or weaken your business’ cyber security. In most cases, a business’ best defence against cyber attacks doesn’t just rely on digital cyber security solutions, but on strengthening the knowledge of everyone who works there. This article explores the human element in cyber security, and how knowledgeable staff members can help fortify your business from the inside out.
Understanding the human element
In cyber security, the term ‘human element’ refers to the role individuals play in either mitigating or exacerbating a cyber risk. This is an important fact to remember, because the creators of cyber threats pry on people by understanding and exploiting their online habits. This is why ensuring that staff members follow safe protocol while they engage with technology at work is the key to safeguarding a business.
How cybercriminals exploit people
The reason cybercrime is as rife as it is today, is because cybercriminals understand human behaviour, and prey on it. The most successful techniques to steal information online doesn’t rely on sophisticated malware but rather on how staff members can be manipulated through their emotions. Cyber criminals know they can leverage people’s natural curiosity, their impulsiveness and their empathy to get them to unknowingly give up information.
Another human factor that cyber criminals exploit is the appeal of getting something for free. This is the reason for so many clickbait scams, which are gateways to malware and ransomware disguised as easy ways to win money, amazing investment opportunities or messages that a user has won a large prize. Because these types of cyberthreats look so appealing to users, they are often very effective.
Finally, using highly personalised details instils a sense of trust in a user, urging them to click on a cyberthreat more easily. These tactics play on the sense of security someone feels when they interact with a person of authority, and usually contain their own names or other personal information. This approach is especially effective when the communication has been designed to make it seem like it was sent directly from a manager, HR or the CEO of the business that employee works for.
What threats can training help you avoid?
Phishing is one of the most common tactics in cybercrime. This is when employees are deceived into revealing sensitive information or unwittingly downloading malware, through the promise of a reward or because the communication has been made to look like someone they know has asked them to share sensitive information.
Ongoing training empowers your staff by helping them to identify and appropriately respond to phishing scams.
One of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to access sensitive information is through weak or easy-to-guess passwords.
Staff should be trained to understand the importance of strong, unique passwords that they don’t use for any other platforms or accounts.
Because cyberthreats evolve rapidly, neglecting to update your software whenever required, will mean you’re opening yourself up to cybercrime.
Educate your employees on the importance of keeping software up-to-date. You could also include a clause in your staff policy to make regular updates mandatory for all staff members.
Cyber security – attack protocol
If your business does experience a cybercrime, it’s important that every staff member understands what their role is managing the situation. It’s equally important that staff know what they should not do.
It’s critically important to train your staff with the knowledge of who is responsible for the different steps needed to be taken to minimise damage and respond appropriately. Printing this information and displaying it where everyone has access to it will help.
Empowered teams, safer businesses
There are many reasons to train your staff around safe online practices. Training might cost a small amount of time and money but it will always be worth it, in the event of a cyberattack. Properly trained employees will be able to spot phishing scams and are less likely to fall for them, meaning fewer opportunities for cyberattacks. The amount of time and money spent on staff training will also pale in comparison to the significant financial losses, legal issues, and damage to a business’ reputation, a business will experience in the event of a cyberattack. Finally, you’ll also be creating a culture of safe online habits, where your staff proactively embrace good practices, share the responsibility of cybersecurity, and become your most formidable defence against evolving cyber threats.
Training with a cyber security professional
Educating your team mitigates the chance of your business being vulnerable to data breaches, financial loss, and reputation damage, amongst many other potential issues. As the first line of defence against cyber threats, investing in your employees with cyber safety training is imperative. Ensuring that you give them a comprehensive understanding of the latest cyber risks, as well as the best practices for safe online habits, will always benefit your business in the long run.
As an expert in the field, Evologic can help you identify what cyber security risks your business may have, and develop and implement a custom solution to protect your network and data. We offer a range of cybersecurity solutions including audits, scans and security checkups to maintain your business’ resilience against cyber attacks and data leakage. Find out more or get in touch with one of our expert team members today.