Human vulnerability is by far the weakest link in cyber security. With remote work being so prevalent, it’s important to know what cyber attacks look like.
Why are human vulnerabilities so problematic?
1. People are unpredictable
Humans are huge cyber security weaknesses because they are unpredictable and easy targets. Their uniqueness and unpredictability mean that security measures companies put into place aren’t going to work effectively for every single employee. People will react differently to threats.
2. People are eager to trust
Another reason employees are vulnerable is that they are often anxious to complete their jobs. If someone appears to be an authority or trustworthy figure and tells them to give data or click a link, employees may not hesitate to listen.
3. People receive too much information.
This is a straightforward problem without a good solution: people are busy. The influx of information workers gets each day can be very high. People get this data influx from numerous channels like Slack, Teams, emails, texts messages. It ends up overwhelming people and resulting in people not paying as much attention as they should.
How do you plug human vulnerabilities?
Human vulnerabilities are a tricky problem. The average company receives around 700 social engineering attacks, and if even one goes through, it can be very costly for the company. The average cost of a data breach for a small business is $164, but for larger businesses, the expenses can easily surge over a million dollars.
In general, a critical eye helps cyber security on an individual level the most. Every email and message should be viewed as malicious until it is determined to be secure. Guilty until proven innocent. It’s key to know what the signs of social engineering (and phishing in particular) are.
Social engineering attackers pose as someone you trust to get you to do something that can be exploited, such as give over sensitive financial account information or click an infected link.
Here are common warning signs of a phishing email, which is the most common type of social engineering:
- Incorrect spelling or grammar
- Suspicious email
- Unexpected links
Risk assessment tools
Risk assessments can also help your organization mitigate risks, identify potential threats, and determine what digital assets (such as patent information or customer information) need to be protected.
Cyber security training
Mandatory cyber security awareness training can help you create a baseline of cyber security knowledge across your organization. If everyone is on the same page, it reduces miscommunication and the likelihood of social engineering working.
Robust training ensures that when faced with common threats, your team members will be less likely to succumb to them and more able to identify them even without threat detection tools.
Remote work cyber security
Working from home has opened businesses up to new vulnerabilities. Physical security controls used in workplaces cannot reach home devices. Companies are no longer able to control and monitor what networks have access to corporate and sensitive information. Home networks lack logical boundaries.
To combat remote work risks, companies have numerous protective actions they can take.
Many companies have turned to VPNs to help secure data, but with the abundance of different connected devices, even refrigerators can be a point of weakness. There is too much-outdated hardware and software that employees use at home.
To keep remote workers from working on compromised devices, organizations should consider performing continuous vulnerability scanning of all devices. There should be endpoint protection to add an extra layer of security.
Endpoint protection runs on devices and serves to detect issues, vulnerabilities, and even malware. An endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution bolsters your ability to detect threats swiftly and effectively.
With advanced cybercriminal tactics, passwords are not as safe as they once were. Organizations that use password authentication need to mandate long passwords have a strong password policy and utilize password managers.
Multifactor authentication (MFA) should be enabled across the entire organization to minimize password attack risks.
A password manager with strict password policies can also enhance company security. Passwords should not be reused or shared by text or email.
Security awareness training
The importance of cyber security training cannot be underestimated. Monthly training can go a long way in protecting your organization against cyber attacks. If you engage in phishing simulations, you can use them as learning lessons to see which employees are clicking links they should not be and which ones are reasonably cautious.