How The Human Element Affects Your Cybersecurity

Technology plays a major role in cybersecurity. It protects endpoints with technologies such as endpoint detection and response (EDR), browser security, antivirus software, and endpoint encryption. It protects networks using technologies like firewalls, network access control (NAC), sandboxing, and intrusion prevention systems (IPS). When it comes right down to it, technology covers pretty much all the bases.

However, your cybersecurity is only as strong as its weakest point. Unfortunately, that is the human element. No matter how much cybersecurity technology you have in place, the truth is that humans remain the easiest way for cybercriminals to access your network. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022, 95% of cybersecurity incidents result from human error.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the human element of cybersecurity and what you can do about it.

Why the Human Element Is the Greatest Risk to Your Cybersecurity

Cybercriminals are just people. As such, they understand that humans have weaknesses and flaws that can be taken advantage of, and they use social engineering to target these weaknesses and flaws. What are we talking about here? The characteristics of empathy, curiosity, ambition, impulsiveness, and trust.

Any of these can cause an employee of yours to click on a link they shouldn’t. It could be asking for a donation for a humanitarian crisis that plays on their empathy, such as the situation in Ukraine or a natural disaster, or a free offer that piques their curiosity and causes them to act impulsively.

Cybercriminals may also pose as a trusted person within the company, such as a manager or HR representative, to gain information or provide a fake link for the employee to click on. Regardless of the method they use, you need to be prepared.

What to Do about the Human Element in Cybersecurity

With the above considerations in mind, here are two main reasons why humans can bring significant risk to your company:

They lack knowledge

Your employees can’t help prevent or avoid a cyber incident if they aren’t armed with sufficient knowledge about recognizing one and what to do about it. This means doing the following:

  • Ensure you have proper education and training in place for every employee, ideally at onboarding and with regular retraining to ensure retention of information. This training should inform employees on the types of cyberattacks to watch out for, how to recognize them, and what to do if they suspect they have been targeted.
  • Put policies and processes in place that give employees complete clarity on what to do to ensure as robust cybersecurity as possible. Make sure there is complete transparency and clarity with regard to these policies and processes and ensure employees are following them on a daily basis.

They make mistakes

No one is perfect. People make mistakes you can never get away from, no matter how much knowledge you arm them with or how good your technology is. Even your top performers will make mistakes. People also get lazy at times or just plain complacent, increasing the chance of mistakes.

To avoid complacency or laziness and to help keep mistakes at a minimum, it is critical that you:

  • Have a solid understanding of what your employees want and value
  • Communicate with employees in a way that connects with these values and their emotions
  • Be clear in your expectations of what employees and teams need to do
  • Use the appropriate tools, processes, and prompts to encourage proper behavior in the workplace
  • Understand your company culture and appoint cultural ambassadors to help promote and support the behaviors and mindset you want
  • Have a system of ongoing routines, structures, and rewards connected to behavior

Contact Platinum Technologies today to find out more about the human element of cybersecurity and how we can help you ensure you minimize the risk your employees pose.

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