CEOs often assume that the greatest cybersecurity threats to their business exist outside of the organization. To protect their company and keep the “bad guys” out of their business, preventative actions and cybersecurity protections, like firewalls and antivirus solutions, are put into place. But, what might surprise you to know is that current data shows that your #1 vulnerability may be sitting just a few feet away from you—your employees.

This leads us to the question of how can you better protect your business from the inside out?

The best preventative action you can take starts with being aware that these risks do exist and educating your employees to understand how to identify cyber attacks and shut them down before they become costly problems.

Here are the most common ways employees can leave you open to attack.

Human Error:

Human error is a leading cause of why many businesses fail in their cybersecurity efforts. One human mistake can lead to a cyber attack that could close the doors to your company quicker than it took your employee to get hooked on the latest phishing scam.

In most cases, your employees are hardly to blame, when it’s primarily due to a lack of training and experience in handling attempted cyber attacks. We are finding out that employees are more than likely to click on phishing emails, download malware, and unknowingly share company data on accident due to negligence and unfamiliarity. It has become so common that last year an estimated 46% of cybersecurity incidents were assisted by unknowing staff members.

Of the 52% of businesses that do recognize their employees are an achilles heel and major cybersecurity risk—far too many still continue to skip out on formal cybersecurity training.  This encourages bad habits and allows errors to continue. The best way to confront human error vulnerabilities is through ongoing cybersecurity training which should include simulated cyber attacks, email scams, password security, social media risks, data management, mobile device dangers, and proper web usage.

Underreporting Cases:

The fear of being given a final sendoff from your HR Department can motivate just about any employee to ignore proper reporting of known issues. Employees who fear personal punishment will push problems under the rug until a technical team member stumbles upon the issue and discovers its destruction. Of course, pushing aside a serious problem like malware or viruses can snowball into a catastrophic breach.

So why do employees hide cybersecurity incidents?

Normally when businesses implement strict rules into a system, employees can become afraid of hierarchy and attempt to cover up their mistakes. This becomes what is referred to as a ‘hide and seek’ situation. An employee attempts to ‘hide’ the issue only for it to eventually come to light by the company’s IT team.

Another reason cyberattacks go unreported is because newer hacking methods are just subtle enough that an undertrained employee might not be aware an attack has taken place. This is where a balance between hierarchy and cybersecurity is so important. If an employee feels safe and confident in the process, they are more likely to report suspicious activity and incidents.

Companies are not only responsible for their employees, but any devices with company information stored on it. To effectively avoid both of these scenarios, training is your best option. It is strongly recommended that you regularly update your staff on the newest strategies hackers are using. You can check out the Top 10 Ways Hackers Get Around Your Firewall and Antivirus, HERE.

Former Employees:

We’ve all had a bad day at work. However, the “worst of the worst” days can result in someone stealing and selling your company’s data to bad actors. While strange to hear, this kind of event happens more than you might think. For example, 30% of security events in the last 12 months reportedly involved a staff member working  against their own employer. Whether these “leaks” are innocent mistakes or premeditated criminal acts. They leave your company in a severely vulnerable position which can lead to financial and reputational damages that are difficult to ever recover from.

The price tag on a cyberattack will frequently include the cost of lawsuits against you and your business. For this reason, it is a good idea to implement security measures with authentication controls that only allow for select employees to access sensitive materials.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD):

BYOD or the practice of using personal devices for business use can create a gaping hole in your company’s security if not maintained properly. While keeping company information on personal devices and PCs may improve mobility, it will also increase your company’s exposure to risk. When your employees are no longer “on the clock,” it becomes much harder to monitor their activity and the networks they connect their devices to. Time and again we see personal and public internet connections that lack adequate protection lead to security leaks.

The simplest explanation to eliminate the risks associated with personal devices would be to remove personal devices from company use. However, we understand this is not always an option so staff alignment with proper policies and cyber hygiene protocols must be regularly enforced. To list a few, employees should remain compliant with company policies on passwords, lock screens, single sign-on, network connectivity, required use of a VPN, real-time updates and patching, location tracking, and mobile device management.

In Conclusion

Training your employees to be your greatest asset in protecting your important systems and sensitive information is the most effective way to minimize your vulnerabilities. The vast majority of companies will deal with a cybersecurity incident at some point—it’s not a matter of “IF,” but “WHEN.” By making cybersecurity a top priority today, you could be saving your company thousands (if not millions) of dollars in the near future.

For 35 years, One Step Secure IT has helped more than 1,500 clients implement and execute on cybersecurity best practices consistently and faithfully. Our clients apply the same strategies we use internally to prevent bad actors from playing a negative role in their company’s story. Gain peace of mind and free yourself from cybersecurity concerns so you can spend more time focused on your business.

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