As it turns out, it’s not some AI-powered machine learning super virus or pernicious and anonymous cybercrime syndicate. It’s not the latest and greatest in botnets, malware, or spyware either.

Sure, these can be scary, and they are worth protecting against. The headlines report the increased volume and velocity of security threats every other day. The risk is real, and companies need to take cybersecurity seriously.

Just Look out for the Humans

How to Spot Your Biggest Security Threat? Just Look out for the Humans
What is the biggest security threat in your company?

But the greatest threat of all? Well, that would be humans. Look no further if you’re trying to identify your biggest cyber threats.

Humans: The Biggest Cyber Security Threats

When we say “humans,” you may assume we are talking about hackers and cybercriminals. After all, they are humans, too, right?

But no, we are talking about employees in your organization, not necessarily disgruntled or vengeful ones.

Verizon’s latest 2022 Data Breach Investigation Report showed that 82% of breaches involved the human element, including social attacks, errors, and misuse.

This is the 80/20 Rule (also known as the Pareto Principle) at work. In cybersecurity, 80% of your problems come from 20% of sources – in this case, human beings.

Whether using a weak, compromised password, clicking on a link in a phishing email, or accidentally setting sensitive cloud-based databases to “public,” your team is the weakest link in the chain.

Here’s a breakdown of the leading issues:

  • Credential problems account for nearly 50% of non-error, non-misuse breaches
  • Phishing accounts for nearly 20% of breaches
  • Nearly 20% of breaches are the result of misconfigured cloud accounts or emailing sensitive data to the wrong people
  • Vulnerability exploits account for less than 10% of attacks

The biggest cyber threats, therefore, cannot be prevented with a robust security technology infrastructure alone. Technology is critical but cannot always account for the human element.

3 Types of Internal Threats

The biggest security threat is humans, who make up your team. The majority are innocent, or at the very least well-meaning. But there are also those with malicious intent. Identifying the different types of internal threats is critical to your security plans.

These are the three types of internal threats to be aware of:

  1. Unintentional. Employees with poor cybersecurity training and habits can unintentionally compromise an organization’s security by clicking on a malicious link, trusting a spoofed website with their credentials, offering sensitive data to the wrong person, or otherwise. Proper cybersecurity training is key to mitigating risk.
  2. Malicious. The occasional disgruntled employee whose primary interest is personal or financial gain. Advanced technologies can help prevent internal threats such as these, but there is no way to read the minds of your employees, so as with cybersecurity in general, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  3. Accomplice. Employees can also collude with cybercriminals or other external parties to steal information from your company for personal gain. Limiting access to key data is critical to preventing scenarios like the “Wolf of Manchester,” who made thousands by selling customer data from an insurance company.

How To Prevent the Biggest Cyber Security Attacks

It’s critical to understand that the same hackers exploiting software vulnerabilities also exploit human vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals have grown wiser about human psychology and are waiting at every turn to seize upon the unsuspecting.

So, you can’t simply reallocate your resources from vulnerability management to in-house training programs. The key is finding a meaningful balance where good cybersecurity practices are baked into your IT security infrastructure.

Preventing the biggest security threat will mean developing a cybersecurity culture in your organization. Blanket policies and procedures are helpful, but they can fall short. Creating an entire culture of cybersecurity will ensure that best practices and good habits are adopted by all.

Naturally, this will mean investing in training. These are the key topics that should be addressed:

  • Password management
  • Phishing attacks, how they work, how to avoid them
  • Encryption and digital signing
  • Authentication
  • Creating backups
  • Best practices in sending personal or sensitive information
  • Account access and privileges as well as oversight and management

Note that if you don’t have all the resources and personnel necessary to handle the training internally, you can hire an outside party to lead it.

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