There’s no denying that making mistakes is a core aspect of the human experience, and without them, we can’t grow and become better. Yet, when it comes to cybersecurity, human errors are too often overlooked. Human error is a significant contributing factor to cyber attacks. Studies have shown that human error accounts for a large percentage of data breaches and cyber-attacks.
What is Human Error in Cyber Attacks?
The human error refers to mistakes made by individuals that can lead to security breaches or cyber-attacks. This can include actions such as weak passwords, falling for phishing scams, inadvertently downloading malware, or neglecting to install software updates. By educating users and implementing strong security protocols, organizations can reduce the risk of human error contributing to cyber-attacks.
Types of Human Error in Cyber Attacks
It’s time to address the types of human error in cyber attacks and explore how we can prevent them from happening.
Accidental data breaches: An accidental data breach refers to an unauthorized disclosure of sensitive or confidential information due to a mistake or oversight. This can occur when an individual, such as an employee, accidentally sends an email to the wrong recipient, leaves confidential documents in an unsecured location, or fails to properly secure a device containing sensitive information.
Accidental data breaches can have serious consequences, including loss of sensitive information, loss of privacy, financial losses, and damage to an organization’s reputation. In some cases, it may also result in regulatory fines and legal liability, particularly if the information that was disclosed was subject to privacy or data protection laws.
Neglecting software updates: This refers to the failure of individuals to install critical security updates for the software and systems they use. This can include software running on computers, mobile devices, and network equipment. This a common type of human error because people may be busy or may not understand the importance of keeping their systems up to date.
When software developers discover a security vulnerability in their products, they often release a patch or update to fix the problem. However, if users fail to install these updates, their systems and data will remain vulnerable to attack.
Careless disposal of data: This involves the improper handling or disposal of electronic devices or data storage media, such as hard drives, USB drives, or mobile devices, that contain sensitive information. The information they contain can fall into the wrong hands and be used for malicious purposes, such as identity theft or financial fraud.
Social engineering: This is a type of human error in cyber-attacks that involves tricking individuals into revealing confidential information or granting unauthorized access to systems or data. This can be done through a variety of tactics, including phishing scams, pretexting, baiting, and tailgating.
Social engineering attacks can be highly effective because they exploit the trust that individuals have in others. This type of human error can have serious consequences for both individuals and organizations, including the loss of sensitive information, financial losses, and damage to reputation.
How to prevent human error in your organization
There are several steps that organizations can take to prevent human error and reduce their vulnerability to cyber-attacks:
- Security Awareness Training: Regular security awareness training can help educate employees about the risks of human error, the types of attacks they may encounter, and how to recognize and respond to these threats.
- Establish Clear Policies and Procedures: Organizations should establish clear ethics and procedures for data handling, software updates, and other security-related tasks, and ensure that all employees are aware of these policies and understand their responsibilities.
- Implement Strong Passwords and Multifactor Authentication: Requiring strong passwords and using multifactor authentication can help protect systems and data from unauthorized access, even if an attacker can obtain a password.
- Conduct Regular Security Audits: Regular security audits can help identify and address any security vulnerabilities, including those that may be caused by human error, and help ensure that all systems and data are protected.
- Encourage Reporting of Security Incidents: Organizations should encourage employees to report any security incidents or suspicious activity and establish a clear process for reporting and responding to these incidents.
- Use Automated Tools and Technologies: Automated tools and technologies, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and endpoint security software, can help protect systems and data and reduce the risk of human error.
- Encourage a Culture of Security: Organizations should encourage a culture of security that values privacy, security, and the responsible handling of information. This can help ensure that employees understand the importance of security and take steps to protect the organization’s systems and data.
By taking these steps, organizations can help prevent human error and reduce their vulnerability to cyber-attacks.