We hate to break it to you, but your organization’s biggest cybersecurity risk already has access to your network and all sorts of sensitive data, like your trade secrets, financials, and even your hardware assets. Depending on the size of your organization, you may have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of these risks within your IT environment. But despite their numbers, just one of these risks can topple your entire company.
The biggest threat to your company is your employees.
Surprised? We don’t blame you. Most companies take pride in their ability to vet employees through extensive interviews and background checks — especially those who may have access to highly sensitive information.
But as many businesses have discovered, that early due diligence isn’t always enough. A whopping 52% of c-level executives said their employees were the biggest threat to their operational security, according to a report by Nozomi, ranking them even higher than cybercriminals.
Here’s why your employees are putting you at risk, and what you can do:
Why Are Employees Such a Massive Threat?
Although your workforce poses the most significant cybersecurity risk to your company, most employees aren’t even aware they’re putting your business in a precarious situation. Sure, some employees may be bad actors looking for an opportunity to sell your data to the highest bidder, but most are obviously negligent.
Take, for example, the WannaCry ransomware attack that struck organizations around the world in May 2017. Even after Microsoft patched the vulnerabilities that led to attacks, companies continued to experience new cases. Why? Employees (typically non-IT personnel) were disabling security options on their company-issued computers and unknowingly spreading the infection to their employer’s entire network.
From turning off firewalls and disabling VPNs to connecting non-sanctioned personal devices, downloading malware-laced files, or using their corporate email and password to sign up for unauthorized services, employees today have a lot of power. And that power makes them dangerous. After all, it doesn’t matter how sophisticated your antivirus software is if your employees are leaving the front door wide-open.
It’s no longer fair to expect IT pros to carry all the responsibility when it comes to protecting your business from cybercriminals. It’s time to ensure your employees know the risk they present and begin holding them accountable for their actions.
How to Reduce Your Biggest Cybersecurity Risk
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to bolster protections and overcome employee negligence.
Here’s how you can mitigate these risks:
- Educate employees on risks and responsibilities
How do you make sure your employees are adequately informed on what to do (and not do)? It’s essential you take time to explain why doing things like reusing login credentials or failing to use the company’s VPN (especially when working from home) puts the entire company at risk. While you’d like to assume everyone recognizes the error of using their birth date as their password, that may not be the case.
- Identify your biggest threats
Next, you need to determine who poses the biggest threat. This is where actionable threat intelligence comes in handy. When you have insight into exactly whose information is compromised, you can trace it back to employee behaviors. In some cases, it could be one employee, an entire department whose manager isn’t taking security protocols seriously.
- Allow employees to fix their mistakes
To err is human, and your employees will make mistakes from time to time. But instead of letting IT take over, ask your employees to clean up their own messes. Once they realize their misstep (and what a pain it is to fix it), they’ll be less likely to make the same blunder again.
- Take action against repeat incidents
If the same people are continuing to make mistakes or repeatedly targeted in email phishing and breach attempts, then that’s a good sign they need additional training, awareness, and support. For example, HackNotice provides a checklist of actions to take and security training resources to help people educate themselves and bolster their cybersecurity skills. Also, some people in your organization — often high-profile people like the C-suite — may need additional monitoring and protection.
While cybercrime was already reaching record highs before the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become significantly worse throughout the crisis — especially while so many people work from home. And though cybersecurity solutions have become more advanced, employee negligence can still undermine any efforts you might already be taking. By tracking and monitoring threats in real-time, you can get a better understanding of who is putting your company at risk and ensure they correct their actions before it costs you everything.
Interested in learning more about what threat intelligence can do for you? Request a demo now!