Cybersecurity is a major concern in 2021, and has been over the past few years. Organizations often deal with sensitive information on a daily basis and do their best to protect it from getting into the wrong hands. However, it often happens that employees make mistakes that can dangerously compromise this information. In this article, you will get to know about common security mistakes employees make.
In-depth research shows that there are various ways in which hackers gain access to mobile devices and computers, thus posing a great threat to an organization’s security.
Statistics for 2021 also show that 23% of all data breaches occur as a result of human error. This makes it all the more essential to identify all the potential scenarios or common mistakes that employees make that can lead to severe privacy breaches.
This guide dives into five of the most common security mistakes that employees make that often lead to serious security lapses.
First, however, let’s understand how these human errors can prove to be dangerous.
The Dangers of Human Security Lapses
While most organizations ensure to have the highest possible security protocols in place to prevent the theft or loss of sensitive and confidential information, employees still make mistakes that can lead to the following kinds of data breaches:
- Emailing documents containing sensitive data to someone outside the organization.
- Becoming a victim of phishing attacks
- Publishing sensitive information on public websites that have great potential to lead to theft.
- Using unauthorized external storage devices that may contain spyware or malware that can infect the company’s systems.
Common Security Lapses Employees Make
Using a Weak Password
This is among the most common lapses employees across the world make, which often leads to serious repercussions. A study found that the average cost of a data breach based on cases in 2019 was about $3.5 million.
The first thing is that every organization must have a password management policy, regardless of the kind of log-in system they use. This must be implemented across the board to ensure that there are strict rules about the strength of the password employees create for their systems and accounts and for the handling and sharing of such sensitive data.
Weak passwords can lead to several scenarios. For example, simple or weak passwords can be an easy target to a brute-force attack or might even be an easy hack if the person attempting to hack into the system knows what the password already is.
This often happens in scenarios where employees face a situation of a conflict of interest, and someone they’re close to might take undue advantage of the information they share.
Another mistake that employees often make is to use personal information in their passwords, such as their spouse’s name, birthdays, and so on. All this is information that a hacker can easily retrieve from the employee’s social media accounts, making it easy to penetrate this basic level of security.
Additionally, some employees also make use of simple and easy-to-guess combinations for their passwords, making them easy to figure out. Sometimes, employees also store these passwords on widely accessible mediums like on a Google Sheet or their phone’s note app, which someone can easily get access to.
Lack of Awareness Leading to Careless Handling of Information
Employees in large organizations tend to work with a particularly large amount of data every day, making it more likely that they make mistakes. Here are some of the likely scenarios –
- Deleting sensitive or confidential files by accident
- Sending emails with sensitive information to people outside the organization.
- Making accidental changes to documents containing sensitive information
- Sharing sensitive information outside of official emails, such as through social media applications
- Not taking a backup of important information that might be required later.
Lack of Internal Communication Leading to Conflicting Security Measures
When you’re setting up a new network, some IT staff members may install software without consulting with the rest of the team. This often results in the wrong software being installed, which can actually cause issues in the entire network. Sometimes, employees also install programs without consulting the IT team.
An employee installing the wrong program could be doing so without your knowledge. Not only could they cause a lot of problems, but the employee could be doing so right under your nose. To prevent this kind of problem from ever happening again, let your staff know about any new software that you might be installing.
A lot of people make the same big mistake of installing antivirus software or firewall programs that aren’t certified by a trusted third party. You need to make sure that these types of software are only installed by trained professionals. There’s always the chance that an employee could install something that compromises your network, so you want to keep an eye on your computer activity. If an antivirus program or firewall is questionable, ask your computer technician to run it through a scan with a reliable antivirus program.
Unsafe Web Practices
Sometimes, employees tend to browse through the web when they’re taking a break from work or if they aren’t feeling motivated enough. And we know that the internet often comes with a lot of ads that sound too good to be true. One example includes ads like, “Here’s how Person A made $1 million sitting at home! Click to find out!”
While ads like these may seem harmless, they can lead to potential malware being downloaded and installed on their systems without them knowing about it.
Another unsafe web practice that many employees often indulge in is searching the deep web. Many people often tend to be curious about what the deep web is all about and what they could potentially find on it.
The deep web is a very unsafe part of the internet with high levels of organized crime, where instances of hacking, spying, and other such activities are very common. Employees who let their curiosity get the better of them might go down this rabbit hole, paving the way for serious security lapses.
Leaving Crucial Data Unprotected
Another one of the most common security mistakes that companies make is leaving their data vulnerable. Data is the backbone of your company, and if you don’t protect it, then you’re going to have major problems down the road. This includes information like credit card numbers, financial statements, and anything else that’s transmitted over the internet.
You may think that it’s impossible to be secure enough with the information that is being sent over the internet, but that’s simply not true. There are a number of different ways that an employee can gain access to your network, and there are always new and innovative ways to do so.
Human lapses account for millions in losses every year, making it essential for organizations across the globe to train their employees about safe practices, especially when handling sensitive and highly confidential data.
The smallest of mistakes can open the door for serious security threats that can cost your organization millions in losses, along with potentially damaging your reputation in the global market.
This guide listed five major lapses on the employees’ part that often lead to sensitive data being compromised. These are opportunities for you as the leader of your organization to incorporate a strict system and tight guidelines in place to ensure that you never have to face a data breach in your organization’s entire lifespan.
In short, strict protocols and effective training are key to maintaining your organization’s cybersecurity.