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Are Your Employees the Biggest Threat to Your Cybersecurity?

Rather than concerning themselves with malicious hacker groups like Lizard Squad, business owners may want to learn from federal agencies and look at their insiders and employees as the next threat to their company’s cybersecurity. Bumping up company cybersecurity may not be very effective if your employees aren’t well educated on how they can both reinforce and hamper security.

Facts and Figures

SolarWinds is an IT software management company that conducted a survey with Market Communications in 2014 that shed new light on the true threats to the digital security of the military and federal government. For instance, insider data leakage and theft was named by nearly 30 percent of respondents as the largest liability to cybersecurity. Roughly 40 percent of breaches were the result of poorly trained and careless insiders.

An online survey conducted earlier this month by Stroz Friedberg revealed that senior management might be the biggest vulnerability to a company’s cybersecurity. In the survey, more than 50 percent of senior managers confessed to having sent sensitive information to the wrong address, much lower than the 25 percent of employees who confessed to the same blunder. If that wasn’t bad enough, more than half of surveyed senior managers admitted to taking company files with them when they left their positions. Now may be a good time to get in touch with your old employees to see if they took more than just their desk plants with them on their last day.

The Reason Behind the Risk 

Employees and insiders aren’t going out of their way to leave gaps and cracks in federal agency, military and company cybersecurity. There are instances where survey respondents simply didn’t have the money required to beef up security. Competing priorities was another reason for lax cybersecurity, in addition to complex internal environments. While it’s entirely possible for users to set up their own cybersecurity measures, many of them may not truly understand just how intricate digital security is, or how their online and electronic environments truly work.

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While the rate at which technology is advancing is all well and good, it can also be a unique liability for users who don’t realize just how outdated their software is. There’s also the fact that not all users give their cybersecurity the degree of time and attention it truly deserves. There may be an ongoing problem or vulnerability users have no idea exists, which means that employees, insiders and management may not be aware they need to take action. Any of these liabilities can lead to a company or federal agency operating at a higher-than-necessary level of avoidable risk.

Rectifying the Situation 

Proper education is one of the most powerful and effective methods of boosting cybersecurity no matter if you’re protecting your personal files and information or the personal and classified data of federal employees. In October of 2014, the Department of Energy realized just how many gaping holes there were in the infrastructure of its cybersecurity. Rather than repeating the DOE’s mistakes, you can instead learn from them and use them as a cautionary tale.

Make sure that your information security staff receives proper and regular training on the full scope of their responsibilities. The identity of anyone who logs in to or out of any system should be recorded in order to easily identify where and how a potential security threat may have started. Officials should also keep a close eye on anyone who either deletes or alters any information. Not only should cybersecurity policies for system use be established, but employees should also be made aware of what those policies entail and if they ever change.

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Other things you can do include taking regular inventory of technology equipment and creating reports for any stolen or lost assets. All of this might sound tedious and time-consuming, but these methods could also keep your sensitive information safe and in your hands where it belongs.

The True Cost of Recovering From a Cybersecurity Breach 

Even the smallest of data breaches can result in major expenses if the stolen information was particularly sensitive. In many states, companies are legally required to inform their customers if they even suspect their cybersecurity was in any way compromised. Not only does this take time away from regular day-to-day business activities, it can cost as much as $30 to properly notify each customer. This cost can mount even further if it turns out the suspected cyber attack was an actual attack. When the Department of Energy fell prey to a cyber attack in 2013, it was reported that more than approximately $4 million was spent on the cost of recovery.

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In addition to a loss of finances and resources, companies and federal agencies also have to worry about a loss of confidence. Current customers and potential customers are sure to think twice about dealing with or entrusting their private information to a business or organization that has sustained a cyber attack in the past. This ripple effect can last for months and possibly even years to come, spreading to shareholder value, financial performance and corporate stability.

The truth is there’s really no way to determine for sure how much a potential or actual cyber attack can cost, no matter if the culprit is an employee, insider or hacker. It’s common for companies to underestimate how vulnerable they are to a security breach, regardless of how sophisticated and up-to-date their security measures might be.

Account for Every Contingency

Even if you already have an insurance policy that covers data security, there’s a chance it’s limited to only certain exposures and includes dedicated limits. As you’re upgrading your security and making sure your employees and insiders are well informed on new and current security measures, talk with your insurance provider to see how protected you actually are from a cyber threat. It’s always best to have more insurance and assurance than you think you may need.

No matter how busy companies, federal agencies and individuals may get, it’s essential they all take time out to learn about major threats to their cybersecurity that exist interiorly and exteriorly. Keep your digital kingdom safe behind gates reinforced with education, preparation and preservation.

Top image ©GL Stock Images

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1 Comment

  • Avatar for Carly Carly says:

    One name-Hillary Clinton! Even top level people in top level areas can make mistakes that can cost huge impacts. Training fore sure is the best way to fix this issue!

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