When you think of cybersecurity breaches, who do you think of as the victims? The majority of hacks and data breaches target businesses – 43 percent of which target small business—mostly because they’re valuable, visible targets. But there’s a bigger reason so many hackers go after businesses; they’re easier to hack.
Some hackers are brilliant masterminds, capable of getting around even the most sophisticated security features, but most hackers are mere opportunists, looking for easy exploits that can earn them a quick buck. So while many big businesses invest in firewalls and better encryption standards, it’s the fundamentals that are being neglected—and resulting in both large-scale and small-scale hacks that interfere with their profitability.
According to cybersecurity experts, the majority of large-scale data breaches are due to employee oversights. But what are these oversights, and what should big businesses be doing to correct them?
- Choosing weak passwords. The best passwords consist of multiple types of characters in a long string, with no inherent pattern to them. Passwords that contain readily available information or patterns (like the name of your company or sequences like “1234”) are notoriously easy to guess. Choosing stronger passwords and rotating them regularly is a good way to avoid this vulnerability.
- Falling for schemes. It’s amazing how effective even simple schemes can be at infecting computers with malware or stealing passwords. Clicking on a bad link, or typing information to a site that appears legitimate could instantly put your entire operation at risk.
- Ignoring clear security inefficiencies. Sometimes, employees are aware of a system vulnerability, but may ignore it because they don’t believe it’s a serious threat, or because they don’t have time to address it. Restructuring priorities to address security concerns is essential to avoid this fate.
Strategies for Overcoming Employee Mistakes
Instead of investing purely in better technology-based security features, invest at least part of your time and money into strategies that can prevent these employee mistakes from occurring:
- Employee education. The most effective strategy you can use to reduce employee mistakes and oversights is investing in better employee education and training. Even a one-hour seminar, once a month, to update employees on best practices and common schemes, could work wonders in reducing your organization’s vulnerability. Choose the most aware, experienced people you can for your IT and cybersecurity positions, and train from the top of your organization down.
- Supervision and redundancy. It also pays to have multiple people working in conjunction with each other; though in some cases, more people can increase the sheer number of potential vulnerabilities, if each person in a team is covering for the others, your collective vulnerability will decrease. Employees can help each other catch potential breaches, identify potential threats, and continue following best practices for the organization’s security. This is why trained supervision and redundancy are musts.
- Recognize the flaws of advanced security. There are dozens of highly secure technologies available to modern businesses, including blockchain-based systems, which rely on public distribution for redundancy and limited availability for tampering. However, trusting that these technologies will be “enough” could lull your workers into a false sense of security. Don’t put your full trust in any system.
If you follow these strategies and ask your employees to do the same, you’ll be far less likely to suffer a data breach due to an employee mistake. No individual and no organization is perfectly secure, but remember—hackers are opportunists. The harder you make it to breach your records, the less likely you’ll be a target.