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Is Human Error the Biggest Risk to Company Data?

By Audrey Smeester | CEO Best Practices

Apr 05

We all make mistakes. I mean, we’re only human after all. But did you know that according to CompTIA’s Trends in Information Security study, human error actually accounts for 52 percent of security and data breaches? Yikes, looks like being human can be a big cause for concern when it comes to any business’s data security.

Although human error is normal and inevitable in some cases, it can be more of a threat to businesses than most are aware of! Backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plays an important role in ensuring that these mistakes don’t turn into serious problems. Read on about these threats to discover how to protect yourself against potential data disasters.

What Is Human Error?

Any business with employees has something to worry about when human error is this high. However, it can be difficult to define because error comes in many forms. Typically, it involves circumstances in which certain actions, decisions or behaviors threaten business security. Some goofs and gaffes may seem harmless, but major slip-ups happen more often than you’d think and can seriously jeopardize sensitive data. So why are these mistakes so threatening to IT environments, and just what kind of bad habits should be corrected? Here are some examples of what human error could look like:

Using weak passwords

Although passwords may seem like the most basic security technique, they can be easily cracked or obtained by malicious perpetrators when not handled with proper care. In this year’s Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, they found that 63 percent of confirmed data breaches involved using weak, default or stolen passwords. This goes to show that using simple passwords, sharing them with other employees or even leaving Post-Its with credentials lying around, can lead to precious and private data being compromised.

Low security awareness

Most employees have a surprisingly low awareness about phishing and other cybersecurity attacks. According to the same Verizon report, 30 percent of phishing emails were opened, and of those, 13 percent caused malware to activate. Emails containing malicious links are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and malware authors are finding new ways to bypass filters and make it to your inbox. Without full user awareness of these security risks, employees could click on phishing links, exposing their network to viruses and malware. Employees with insufficient cybersecurity education could be unknowingly helping hackers gain access to their business networks. What would that mean for you? Do you know how to spot a malicious scheme before the damage is done?

Carelessly handling data

We’ve all had those days when we’re not feeling at the top of our game, but when it comes to handling sensitive company data, careless actions can result in major disaster. According to the same study by CompTIA, 42 percent of error-related breaches are caused by “general carelessness” of users or employees. Whether it be accidentally deleting important files, sending company data to the wrong email recipient, neglecting software updates, or even misplacing mobile devices – a little carelessness can cause a lot of trouble.

 

Why Is Human Error a Threat?

Most businesses are unaware that the greatest security threat could be internal. With criminal cyber-activity on the rise, not enough business owners are paying attention to the avoidable consequences of human error. Unfortunately, people still suffer from what I like to call the “this could never happen to me” mindset.

You could have the best technology and procedures in place, or a well-thought out disaster plan, but one unforeseen slip-up by an employee could mean the end of the road. It is your Managed Service Provider’s responsibility to ensure that your network and data are protected from these potential threats. Understanding that human error is the root of these problems is only the first step, so what else can you do?

 

Have a Strategic Business Advisor

Having an effective backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution can give you the opportunity to strengthen your data security, but there are other methods as well.

Walk through your errors

Talking about common mistakes and mapping them out is the best way to work through problems. Tracking and analyzing how errors occur can help you minimize the chances of them happening again and also mitigate the potential damage.

Create a solid security policy

It’s always a good idea to have a documented procedure when it comes to data security. Strategically creating rules and best practices will ensure clarity and that all company data and information is being handled and stored properly.

Inform and train

CompTIA’s study also revealed that only 54 percent of companies offer some form of cybersecurity training! Avoid falling under that statistic and use your BDR advisor to educate yourself and your employees about smart security procedures. Have a conversation with them about the daily threats that human error can pose, or provide tips on security best practices. This will also open the opportunity to reinforce the benefits of your BDR solution, the ultimate backup plan. Employees at all levels within your company will walk away with a better appreciation for how a business continuity solution can protect your bottom line if and when human error occurs.

 

In the end, eliminating human error is nearly impossible, but having a BDR solution will help ensure the preservation of sensitive company data in the event someone makes a business-crippling mistake. Remember, users likely won’t know if they’re endangering corporate proprietary information because they’re probably not familiar with the various data threats to watch out for. Set your company up for success by regularly having an open dialogue with your backup and disaster recovery provider.