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The role of human errors in successful data security breaches

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By Filip Cotfas, Channel Manager, CoSoSys

The human factor is typically the most difficult to regulate and forecast data protection. Some businesses engage in staff training hoping a well-educated workforce would enhance vigilance and dissuade poor security practices. In many circumstances, a business is only one irresponsible employee away from a disastrous security event. There is also the risk of malevolent insiders and dissatisfied workers attempting to harm a company’s reputation or steal data.

But, what are the most typical insider risks that put a company’s data security at risk? Let’s understand the most common occurrences:

(a) Phishing and Social engineering:
Phishing and social engineering attacks have grown in popularity as methods for hackers to penetrate networks and disseminate malware and ransomware. Although they are nominally external dangers, they rely on easily duped workers. Cybercriminals are duped into exposing their credentials or clicking on infected links or files, impersonating friends or other trustworthy sources, or promising surprising incentives from well-known businesses.

They can quickly undermine network security once inside. While anti-malware and antivirus technologies can prevent phishing attempts by detecting strange emails, social engineering is best addressed through security awareness training. Employees must be trained to deal with outside attackers and respond when they get questionable requests. Understanding social engineering is critical for preventing it. Knowledge should also be tested in order to discover any possible shortcomings among personnel.

(b) Data sharing outside the company:
Employees who publicly or with third parties outside the organization share private corporate data such as intellectual property, personally identifiable information (PII), or healthcare data. This typically occurs as a result of carelessness: a reply all button is pressed instead of a single reply, information is sent to the incorrect email address, or anything is mistakenly shared publicly. Training seldom helps with these kinds of occurrences since they represent human mistakes that we are all prone to. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions, for example, can assist firms in keeping track of sensitive data and ensuring that its transmission, whether by email or other internet services, is limited or prevented entirely.

(c) Use of unauthorized software:
The use of unlicensed third-party software, apps, or internet services in the workplace is sometimes difficult for the IT department to track down; thus, the phrase “shadow IT.” This is troublesome since most businesses are unaware that this is happening, resulting in a blind hole in cybersecurity efforts. Another risk is that these third-party services may be vulnerable to data leaks or security breaches. DLP systems can also assist businesses in preventing employees from submitting sensitive information to unauthorized services. They can gain a better knowledge of shadow IT within their firm by watching these attempts.

(d) Loss of company devices:
Employees frequently carry their work laptops and portable devices out of the office in today’s more mobile work environment. Work gadgets routinely leave the protection of business networks when working remotely, visiting customers, or attending industry events, making them more vulnerable to both physical theft and outside interference.

Encryption is always an excellent approach to protect against physical theft. Encrypting computers, mobile phones, and USBs eliminates the risk that anyone who takes them will be able to access the information on them. Enabling remote wipe features can also assist enterprises in remotely erasing all data on stolen devices.

(e) Work from home plans:
Working remotely might provide chances for data theft. These include the theft or loss of physical equipment and the risk of exchanging passwords, encryption keys, and work computers with unknown third parties. Insider threats can be difficult to detect and much more difficult to prevent from inflicting harm to the firm. On the other hand, organizations may limit typical internal dangers by establishing preventative measures and best practices. The danger of these hazards may be considerably decreased by combining training, organizational alignment, and technology.

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