Many people assume that when a large scale data breach occurs, some mission-critical system failed somewhere down the line. Maybe there was a hiccup in a real-time network scanning solution, or a firewall that was thought to be impenetrable turned out to be anything but. While this is sometimes the case, in reality there is usually a different cause altogether. Theories like these overlook the human factor behind it all, which is often one of the most overlooked causes of data breaches in the digital age.
The Awareness Factor
It’s also important to note that rogue employees are NOT the only ones who may do your organization harm. Even employees with the best of intentions can still fall victim to cyber attacks and intrusion attempts due to a good, old-fashioned lack of awareness.
Phishing attempts are getting more sophisticated all the time and employees have to be careful to not accidentally expose their passwords. Employees may overlook data-privacy regulations because they’re not truly aware of just how important the information they’re handling really is. Employees may use unauthorized websites or shadow IT tools out of convenience, accidentally exposing your entire business to harm.
ALL of these are very real threats in today’s world and none of them have anything to do with someone who was actively trying to hurt you in the first place.
Time Heals All Wounds… and Causes All New Ones
Another one of the most overlooked causes of data breaches has to do with employees who are overworked and overburdened, cutting corners in an attempt to get as much done as possible – and paying dearly for it.
Even something as simple as improperly configuring a security tool can leave your entire business exposed. Employees who are rushing to meet deadlines might forget to update security patches, leaving a pressing vulnerability unchecked. All of these can lead to poor security practices, which opens the door for very serious (and expensive) cyber issues moving forwards.
Passwords, Passwords, Passwords
Finally, passwords. You can set up as many intrusion detection and network scanning tools as you’d like and it ultimately won’t mean anything if the passwords your employees are using aren’t strong enough in the first place.
Think about all of the devices that are in use across your business each day. Laptops, tablets, cell phones, desktop computers and more – all of which are potential vulnerabilities just waiting to be taken advantage of by someone with the right tools and the appropriate amount of knowledge. Now, think about what might happen if your employee protected their laptop with a weak password like “Password1.”
The amount of damage that could be carried out could be catastrophic, and absolutely all of it could have been avoided by simply educating your employees on how important strong passwords are and taking steps to confirm that they’re in place with your IT department.
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