Before diving into how to mitigate the human factors of cyber security, perhaps it is best to understand what the term actually represents. The human factors of cyber security represent the actions or events when human error results in a successful hack or data breach. Now you may have the impression that hackers are simply looking for a weak entry point that naturally exists within a system. However, more often than not, they find a weak link that was caused by human hands.

According to BakerHostetler's Data Security Incident Report, human error accounted for 24% of cyber security incidents, finishing only second to Phishing/Malware at 31% (which still requires a human error to activate). Sharing of passwords, poor patch management, double-clicking on unsafe URLs, and organizational access through a personal device is just a few human errors that lead to a security threat, many of which could be mitigated.2016 Human Factors of Cyber Security Statistics

Source: BakerHostetler

But why should you care?

Besides the security of your customer’s information and the life of your website, cyber hacks can prove to be very costly for not only your reputation but also your bottom line. In 2016, the Ponemon Institute found the average consolidated total cost of a data breach was $4 million! That’s a good chunk of change for actions or events that could be avoided with the right tool.

So what can you do to mitigate the easily avoidable human factors of cyber security? Here are three easy tips to get you started.

1. Educate Your Employees about Social Engineering

Now, there are many ways someone can break into your system through social engineering. Social engineering is the use of media to manipulate people into giving up confidential information. Here are some examples of social engineering to share with your employees:

  • Spear Phishing is a variation of phishing that reaches fewer victims but tends to be much more successful. Highly customized emails are typically sent to a much smaller number of potential victims and try to use familiarity to fool the victim into buying into the scam.
  • Reverse Social Engineering may be similar to your favorite movie heist. For this particular strategy, a hacker will attack a company’s network and will claim to have found the source of the hack in order to offer help in repairing it. If the help is accepted, the hacker will then have access to the system.
  • The Friendly Hacker is a more recent style of social engineering that focuses on email or social media accounts. Here a hacker will try to access an account and search their messages for any kind of PDFs, video files, or other kinds of downloadable content. From there a malicious code can be embedded into another document, perhaps labeled as an “updated version,” and will then be sent to the unknowing victim to open. One key to take note of here is that the initial victim is not always the target, leaving more higher-ranking employees vulnerable to attacks.

Looking to avoid and learn more about social engineering? Check out this article from our blog.

2. Require your Outside Vendors to Employ Strong IT Security

When you work with outside vendors, it is important to know they are just as secure (if not more secure) than your business. Back in 2014, it appeared that an HVAC vendor for Target Corporation could have been an entry point for hackers to break into Target’s systems, proving that your business, no matter the size, could be just as vulnerable as your vendors. Therefore, it is important to communicate your concerns and ask about their surveillance process and monitoring software. If you’re unsure of the quality of their security, ask to see their IT infrastructure audits to insure that appropriate safeguards are in place. Lastly, you can strongly encourage them to utilize a change detection software to identify when any of their systems have been changed, for better or for worse.

3. Utilize a Change Detection Software

Change detection software, such as CimTrak, is comprehensive security, integrity, and compliance application that is deployed and scales to the largest of global networks. This kind of automated software detects processes, flexible response options, and auditing capabilities to make it a powerful cyber security tool. This kind of software can also help you identify:

  • Who made the change
  • What changes were made
  • Where the changes reside
  • When the changes had taken place
  • How the change was implemented

Better yet, CimTrak’s self-healing software can be used to revert unwanted changes back to their original form to avoid any downtime.

Thinking that your business could benefit from an added layer of security? Learn more with the Technical Summary today. 

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Jacqueline von Ogden
Post by Jacqueline von Ogden
June 20, 2017
Since 1999, Jacqueline has written for corporate communications, MarCom agencies, higher education, and worked within the pharmacy, steel and retail industries. Since joining the tech industry, she has found her "home".