Your Employees Are the Biggest Cybersecurity Threat You Will Face This Year

Cyber security breaches are making news headlines across the globe, showcasing all the nefarious ways unsafe technology can be catastrophic for businesses. These stories are exciting for the readers, and quite shameful for the organizations that have survived through these occurrences. The lack of awareness and cyber security training can be blamed for these incidents.

The reality is that the size of the company, or the scope of the security breach doesn’t matter; someone within the company can almost always be held responsible for the failure. And while some attacks happen because of an employee with a grudge, the fact is that most of the times it’s a simple human error or negligence on an employee’s part that leads to the security breach. They might have ignored a warning, or failed to follow a process, ending in digital disaster for their employers.

This 2016 survey found that human behavior is the greatest risk to data. A data leak can lead to financial losses and irreparable damage to the company’s reputation. This makes it is imperative for corporations to take a multi-pronged approach to fixing the problem.  It is now more important than ever to mitigate and limit the misuse of computers and the internet within an organization.

Insiders Make Your Organization Vulnerable

And this massive vulnerability is only growing with time and technology.

The 2018 Insider Threat Report surveyed more than 400 cybersecurity experts.  90% of those surveyed strongly felt that their organization is prone to an insider attack, and nearly 50% reported that their company had experienced a cyber security attack at least one during the past year. 94% i.e. a majority believed that regular employees are the biggest threat to security and that’s why they are all for monitoring employees in an effort to prevent future attacks.

If you are still not convinced that your employees can and will compromise the security of your insider information, consider this: someone found a USB on the streets of London. Upon investigation it turned up that the USB contained highly sensitive and crucial security data for Heathrow International Airport.

Of course, the USB might just have been dropped by an employee carelessly and quite innocently. However, it is still a failure of the organizations security. Or it could have been knowingly lost by someone with bad blood with the airport authorities. Either way, it could be very damaging if it had gotten into the wrong hands.

Now, it’s interesting to note that most organizations these days have invested in Data Loss Prevention software, data encryption, endpoint security, log management and other similar measures to ensure internal security. Obviously, something isn’t working.

 To prevent online breech of security and cyberattacks, companies must empower their HR and IT departments with cyber security training and online courses. This can help spread organization-wide awareness of the potential risks and ways to mitigate them.

Also understand that even though restrictive security measures seem like a common-sense solution, these will end up costing your organization a lot in employee motivation and productivity, hampering innovation and frustrating the users.

Creating An Effective Employee Cybersecurity Program

The good news here is that analytics, artificial intelligence and bit of due diligence can help organizations identify and respond to inside threats in real-time. At the same time, the IT department can ensure safety of company data and help HR by educating employees on the importance of cybersecurity.

However, even with technological advances, managers must realize which areas to focus on, to get the greatest returns on protection.

Secure The ‘Crown Jewels’

Understand what your enemies value the most. When you know what kind of assets the bad guys are coming after, you know what to protect. Identification of valuable data and processes, is the first step to ensuring their safety and strengthening their defenses.

Apply Deep Analytics

Humans have habits. Your employees, every single one of them, have a unique pattern on how they approach their jobs. Deep analytics can help you find out if anyone has deviated from their usual behavior recently. This can make it easier to figure out if any data has been compromised.

Know Your People

Keep your employees close, but keep the most critical among them, even close. All people represent a security risk, but it holds even more true for those at top, with the most access and greatest understand of how things work within your organization. Monitor your IT admins, top execs, key vendors and other at-risk employees vigilantly.

Stick To The Basics

Shiny new tools are always exciting. But get the basics rights and you will have biggest impact on curbing insider threat. This means enforcing strong user IDs and rock-solid passwords. Collect data on all devices that come in contact with your network and make sure in case you do get hacked, you are the first one to find out instead of hearing it on the news. Test your people, train them and trick them with exercises to help them figure out where they may go wrong. Remember that hackers often use the ID of an unsuspecting careless employee to breach security.

Build Company Culture

If your employees are like most employees they have probably already contributed to potential security breaches without knowing anything about it. In all likeliness at least, a few people in your organization have visited questionable websites, clicked on suspicious links, ignored Windows security updates and opened phishing emails; all while on your network.

Implement clear security policy and teach your employees how to adhere to it successfully. Enforce smart habits until it is clearly understood that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility.


Offer mandatory training on cyber security risks and teach the consequences of violating online security protocols. Focus on topics such as:

  • Identifying phishing emails
  • Recognizing questionable links
  • Knowing the extent of damage caused by security breaches
  • Handling company information securely
  • Using personal devices with responsibility

Cyber security training for beginners is an indispensable part of your cybersecurity efforts. However, make sure that it involves more than just sending an email with instructions for your employees. Find the time and resources to provide quality training, which fortunately is also available online. These online cyber security courses should be a part of your digital security policy guidelines.

Now before you invest in a new security software suite, take a look at all the other options available to you. Put in place a robust internal security police and augment all your efforts with employee-monitoring solutions, and then rest easy knowing that your organization is in safe hands.

About The Author
Product Manager at QuickStart

Muzzammil Hanif

With over 8 years of experience in the IT industry, Muzzammil is a tried and tested expert at product management. He has a special interest in InfoSec related certifications and courses, and has his finger on the pulse of the latest developments in the cyber security industry. When he is not working, he likes to watch movies and spend time with his family.