Cyber Security Services
Cyberspace has grown to be a super-platform for businesses and establishments to thrive. This is because it makes branding and marketing easier, and helps you keep an eye on what is being said about your business.
However, with these merits is the challenge of maintaining a resilient security outlay. And for all you know, cybersecurity breaches are a big deal for every web user.
In 2019, Risk-Based Security reported that a total of 7.9 billion records were exposed between the first nine months of the year. Sadly, this trend has remained on the rise every year.
Within the first half of 2021 alone, reported data breaches amounted to a total of 18.8 billion records. That is more than double what was reported in 2019.
A lot has been said in the tech space already about cyberattacks, be it Malware, Denial of Service (DoS), Man in the Middle (MITM), SQL injection (SQLi), Phishing, and the likes. However, a significant number can be traced to human error.
In a study conducted by IBM to investigate cyber breaches reported by their customers in more than 130 nations, it was discovered that human error spearheaded about 95 percent of those data breaches. Do you know what that means? Had those businesses devised effective strategies to avoid error completely, they would have had very little to deal with defending against cyberattacks.
Before we explore how to achieve this, let us take a brief look at what human error is and how it causes cybersecurity breaches.
What is Human Error?
In simple terms, human error is a user action or inaction while engaging with a user interface, other than the failure of the service provider, which results in a security breach.
Usually, most of those actions and inactions are without apparent forethought. Had they known, they would have avoided everything that could expose their files or records to cyber attackers.
For instance, no user would download an attachment if he knew it was malware-infected. So, every action or inaction of users either opens them up to or defends them against breaches.
Now let us consider the types of human error that exist.
Types of Human Error
Generally in the IT world, we have a host of actions that are regarded as human error. However, niching down to cyberspace, human error could either be skill-based or decision-based.
Skilled-Based Human Error
Skill-based human error encompasses all mistakes relating to the skillfulness of a user while using the web service(s). In this category, the user is conversant with the process and what should be done; however, by his actions or lack of action, infiltrators gain access to his credentials and records.
Slips and Lapses.
Slips are errors resulting from a failure of execution or control. A user mistakenly downloading a malware-infected attachment by clicking on an on-screen button is a good example of a slip. He knows exactly what he wants to get done, however, clicking on the attachment was the wrong action. Other sources include mistiming, interference, reversal, and more.
Any other similar mistake committed by a user while executing a pre-learned or familiar task is regarded as a slip. Lapses on the other hand are errors related to a brief failure of memory on the user’s part. For instance, a mistake made by a user of a service, because of a loss of attention in the middle of a process could be classed as a lapse. Lapses could occur as a result of omissions and repetitions resulting from distraction, tiredness, or any other thing that could cause a brief lapse of memory.
Decision-Based Human Error
Decision-based human error occurs when a user gets it wrong with one or more of his decisions while interacting with a user interface. And like we noted earlier, even inaction could be a human error. Among other factors that could lead to a decision-based error, the user might not know enough about the task or process he is undertaking or is unaware that his inaction could be a loophole for hackers to plunge an attack.
Now let us get a bit more practical by identifying the possible sources of human error in businesses.
Sources of Human Error
There are several ways through which human error could occur. However, from recent studies, here are the most common sources.
This is a lead cause of cyberattacks. Several users are fond of using weak passwords by merging one or more of their personal or corporate details like their names, dates of birth, company’s name, or years of employment. A smart hacker could check their social media handles, and just with a few guesses infiltrate into their e-space and access stored data.
According to the National Centre for Cyber Security, 1234 is the most used password globally. It was discovered that some users even retain the password for their e-mail account for their social media handles and other web services. And some of those with strong passwords do not keep them well. Imagine writing a password in a diary that a friend could flip through, or on a note placed carelessly on the desk, or saving them in a google sheet that is accessible to the public.
Another loophole is the absence of an additional security feature such as two-factor authentication. On the whole, any action or inaction while storing, handling, and sharing passwords could be an opening for a cyberattack.
Most organizations do the majority of their internal and external communication via emails. According to Statista, an average of 319.6 billion emails are sent and received daily in 2021. This is projected to be about 376.4 billion by 2025. And for all you know, humans are prone to mistakes.
Breach statistics in 2018 as reported by Verizon revealed that of all actions causing breaches in Professional, Technical, and Scientific Services, misdelivery ranked third.
A similar survey conducted by Professor Jeff Hancock of Stanford University revealed that 58% of the respondents had one time at work sent an email to the wrong person. That is not all. 12% of these folks lost their jobs because of the mistake. You see how gruesome misdeliveries could be.
Sadly, after a misdelivery, making a reversal might not fix the mess if the wrong recipients have read the content. In 2016, NHS Trust was fined £180, 000 on account of a misdelivery of a health center in London, leaking the HIV status of some patients.
One of the strongest tactics of cybercriminals is leveraging software security vulnerabilities. And you know to fix a vulnerability in software, the developer(s) would have to send a patch to the users. Should there be a delay in applying the patch, hackers always have their hands on deck to infiltrate and wreak cyber havocs. Equifax, a prominent health reporting agency in the United States fell victim to this in 2017. The company delayed software security for months, resulting in dire issues. The delay in patching led to the exfiltration of lots of customers’ details.
Sequel to this data breach, Equifax lost thousands of dollars in settling damages for customers that sued them.
Companies must put good efforts into the prevention and defence of cyberattacks; however, that is not all to cybersecurity. It is also important to ensure top-notch physical security, from the way employees handle sensitive documents to the physical security of their data centers.
You can imagine an IT support staff leaving the security details of workers/clients on his desk or in a printer output tray. Anyone could walk in and pick up the document.
How to Avoid/Reduce Human Error
The very first way to stay on top of the game in cybersecurity is to organize extensive training sessions for your employees, and more importantly in a frequent manner. Sadly, only a few organizations give priority to this.
In a study conducted by CompTIA, 46% of the respondents said their companies do not offer cybersecurity training to their workers. And out of those whose companies do, only 65% was ongoing at the time the study was conducted.
A lot could go wrong with an employee’s actions and inactions. Some would innocently use the same password for their social media handle and work email accounts. This alone could spearhead a data breach.
At DC Encompass, we offer Crew Resource Management (CRM) Training to organizations. CRM covers the simple ideas about mitigating human error, and some quick-fix tactics to fix them after happening. With frequent sessions of training, your staff would learn how to prevent mistakes as a team, and how to contain them in a way that would not impair their reputation and that of the company.
Review Work Practices
Another step to take is to frequently review your work practices. Many times there are loopholes in routines, and even how workers use in-house security technologies.
Many approaches can be adopted to get this done. However, the peculiarity of your business and working environment would dictate which is most appropriate. But on a general level, the following should not be missing.
Put eyes on those with access to your network. Let users’ access be well streamlined to the scope of their responsibilities only. The greater the level of access a user has, the higher the possibility of human error. A user can only commit an error with the information within his reach. If a large amount of information is accessible to him, a company would have a lot to deal with should there be a breach of data.
Like we noted earlier, password-related problems are part of the lead causes of cyberattacks. Passwords must be unique, strong, and confidential. A good way to manage passwords is to use a password manager application. The good part of this is that once you save a password, users would not have to remember them or write them down. Not writing them down alone significantly reduces the risk of a data breach. Also in your password management process, ensure all employees have two-factor authentication on their accounts. This would serve as a sort of extra cyber protection.
At DC Encompass, we have perfect solutions to control user access and manage passwords.
Hold Discussion Sessions
For you to handle human error effectively, you need to know the experiences of your employees. It is only when you know a problem that you can proffer solutions. Discussion sessions provide a perfect platform to achieve this.
Bring up issues related to cybersecurity and human error that are peculiar to the day-to-day operations of your organization. Discussing topics out of your routine would be an effort in futility. Plus, it will not be difficult to get along if it is something they are familiar with.
However, ensure the active participation of all in attendance. Also, have one or more cybersecurity experts present in those meetings. Most times, users self-handle a lot of issues with weighty security implications. Discussion sessions are where you can find out what their struggles are. Expect to hear silly comments and questions, especially from newbies that are not IT-inclined. But you know that is way better than having to lose your credibility if a data breach occurs. Responses should be professional, calm, and friendly.
To motivate those present to get engaged, you could try out giving out a reward to anyone who asks insightful questions.
Keep Security Infos at Their Finger Tips
It is not enough to organize training, seminars, and discussion sessions. For all you know, it might not be possible for users to retain 100% of what was taught. There is no way a user will put to use what he has forgotten. Posters and reminders are good ways to keep their minds refreshed on what has been taught. While users are at work reading info about how to avoid errors would go a long way to keep them on track.
Human errors are bound to occur in every organization, this is why cybersecurity training is very important as part of measures to reduce the effect of these errors on business productivity. At DC Encompass, we offer cybersecurity services to reduce human errors and help organizations increase efficiency and return on investment. To find out more, get in touch with our team of experts today.