Everybody makes mistakes—that’s why they put erasers on pencils. The fact that this saying has been around since 1915 shows just how long human error has been influencing how we live and interact with each other.
But in the realm of network security, even a single human mistake can have catastrophic consequences. All it takes is one weak link in your network security chain to have a devastating effect on your vulnerability and possibly cost you hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
Fortunately, most human mistakes are simple, easy to understand, and easy to prevent. In this guide, we’ll be focusing on the best techniques to reduce the risk of human error in your network security.
Three Examples of Human Error in Cyber Security
It’s estimated that 82 percent of data breaches result, at least in part, from human error. Historically, the following mistakes lead to devastating consequences in the realm of cyber security:
1. Password Mistakes
If someone has access to your username and password, they can gain the same level of authorization and access as you. Unfortunately, many people are easily duped into giving up their password voluntarily; if a malicious actor manages to convince you that they’re a person of authority, you might trust them with your login credentials. Additionally, some people on your staff may choose weak or easy-to-guess passwords that make them easy targets for outsiders looking to gain access.
2. Negligent Actions
Simple negligent actions, like clicking a suspicious link, downloading an unfamiliar attachment, or even inserting a random flash drive you found in the parking lot, can create opportunities for hackers to gain access to your network.
3. Social Engineering
Social engineering is becoming more common, since it’s usually easier to persuade someone to make a mistake than to break down large network security barriers. If your team members are exceptionally trusting, or if they aren’t familiar with social engineering schemes, they may be vulnerable to this.
Common Cyber Attacks Your Business Should Prepare For
People like to imagine that hackers are incredibly intelligent agents who use sophisticated knowledge and brute force to break through even the toughest defenses. But in most cases, cyber attacks come from people who have only a limited technical understanding, but an opportunistic sense.
These opportunists look for critical weaknesses wherever they can find them, searching for the easiest targets to minimize the effort they need to spend. Because firewalls, VPNs, and other robust security measures are difficult to overcome, most modern “hackers” simply try to exploit human vulnerability and weakness in their approach.
If you can convince just one person to give you their password or persuade a single team member to click a suspicious link, you can hypothetically gain access to the entire network. And in most organizations, it’s much easier to get someone to voluntarily disclose a password than it is to get past a sturdy firewall. Phishing, ransomware attacks, and other malware attacks can all be executed by preying on human error.
Hacking methods are growing more sophisticated by the day. As your business becomes increasingly reliant on technology, you become increasingly susceptible to security breaches like ransomware.
Helpful Techniques to Reduce the Risk of Human Error in Network Security
First and foremost, invest in the proper training. If you want to reduce human error, you need to educate employees on how to stay protected. This doesn’t need to be intensive, but it should reach every person who works for your organization. At the very least, all your employees need to take network security seriously and become familiar with best practices that can keep vulnerabilities to an absolute minimum. This isn’t the only strategy, however, as you also want consider the following techniques:
- Multi-Factor Authentication: Simply turning on multi-factor authentication for all employees and applications can make a big impact. With multi-factor authentication in place, would-be “hackers” won’t be able to gain access to accounts with a password alone.
- Access Segmentation: Minimize the potential fallout of the network security breach by making sure employees can only access information they critically need to access. Segmenting data and functionality accessibility can keep your most sensitive information safe.
- Automation: Error is always a risk in a manual task. But in an automated task, your robots and algorithms should function flawlessly. Automate as much as you can to reduce the number of manual efforts exercised in your business.
- Checks and Balances: Include redundant checks and balances within your organization to keep things balanced.
Ongoing Monitoring and Surveillance: Practice ongoing monitoring and surveillance to look for suspicious activity. If you can flag a phishing email before it reaches your staff members, you won’t have to worry about them making mistakes.
- Breach Detection: If a breach does occur due to human error, you need to be able to notice it and act immediately.
Do I Need Security Awareness Training?
From preventing ransomware attacks to fighting back against phishing attempts, your entire organization can improve with the help of security awareness training. Security awareness training provides education and exercises to your employees, helping them understand some of the most common scams and attack vectors in the realm of network security. Once they understand the biggest threats and how to prevent them, they’ll be equipped with the knowledge and prevention techniques that can keep them from making grievous errors.
Invest in IT Consulting Services to Reduce Your Risk of Human Error
It’s hard to do everything yourself. That’s why it pays to hire an IT consultant to help you with all your cyber security and employee education needs.
Do you need help putting together a solid network security strategy? Do you need a third party to assess your existing cyber security needs and advise you on how to improve? At Arizona Computer Guru, we do it all. Contact us for a free consultation today!