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Employees: Your Organization’s Greatest Cyber Threat

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Did you know?

Employees are your organization's greatest cyber threat... and your Employee Awareness Training regimen may not be as robust as you assume.

Here's how to get ahead of the curve to keep your (and your clients') data safeguarded:

Why Employees Are Your Organization's Greatest Cyber Threat

As it turns out, the people you employ may be your organization’s greatest threat to cyber-security. According to a study completed by Finn Partners Research, employees pose a substantial cyber risk to their organizations.

The study, which included a survey of 500 full-time employees at various organizations across the United States, found that nearly 40% of workers openly admitted to clicking on links or opening attachments from senders that they did not recognize. While this may seem insignificant, this sort of cybersecurity omission may lead to the installation of malware on company devices, ultimately allowing an attacker to harvest confidential corporate information.

According to Jeff Seedman, Senior Partner at Finn Partners and head of the firm’s U.S. cybersecurity specialty group, the fastest and easiest way for attackers to gain access to sensitive organizational data is for unsuspecting employees to click on “nefarious links." Such threats can be embedded in company emails, websites, and even personal devices.

Cybersecurity Risks for Remote and Hybrid Workers

The growing trend of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) prevalent across most industries, over 55% of employees use personal devices for work engagements. This practice directly increases an organization’s exposure to security threats such as hacking, malware, and data breaches.

Employees often make the false assumption that their devices are secure; however, failure to update software regularly or utilization of proper protection practices, more often than not, challenges this belief. Should an employee’s device end up lost, stolen, or hacked, an organization’s confidential information can easily be collected by opportunistic hackers.

“Two in five employees admitted to clicking on a link or opening an attachment from a sender they did not recognize.”

In 2023 and beyond, annual cybersecurity awareness training regimens won’t cut it. With statistics indicating that upwards of 31% of respondents have already been victims of such breaches or attacks, regular training should be an integral initiative across all organizations.

How Organizations Can Mitigate Employee Cybersecurity Risks

There are several initiatives that an organization can start today to help mitigate their organization’s cyber risk profile:

  • Address Internal Cybersecurity Concerns: Monthly internal newsletters or training sessions may be employed to share tips and techniques to help employees protect themselves, and your organization’s data. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is also a core part of many organizations’ defences against phishing involving the theft/reuse of employee passwords. Most importantly, the annual use of a skilled and dedicated penetration testing team, such as Packetlabs, will indicate, in order of priority, your company’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

  • Conduct Periodic Phishing Campaigns: Often, Packetlabs is engaged in the execution of phishing campaigns to evaluate internal user awareness. Such campaigns allow an organization to test and measure their employee’s resistance to phishing, ideally, without their awareness; similar to a fire drill. Our founder, Richard Rogerson, estimates that as many as 1 in 4 employees across most organizations open links, inadvertently access malicious documents, or supply credentials to such campaigns... all of which reinforces the requirements for more thorough training

Employee Awareness Training regarding cybersecurity risks has never been more critical. With threat actors easily mimicking key stakeholders, executives, or other employees through easily-findable online information, keeping all stakeholders informed on security best practices is non-negotiable. 

Conclusion

With employee-related cybersecurity breaches up 22% year-over-year since 2023, there has never been a more important time to realize the cyber threat employees inadvertently pose to organizations of all sizes.

Reach out to our team today for free, zero-obligation recommendations on how to get started on strengthening your security posture.

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