Cybersecurity continues to be a major concern for businesses, organizations, institutions, and associations alike. With technology exponentially advancing rapidly, more information is being stored digitally and the threat of cyberattacks is increasingly severe.

You may think most cybersecurity breaches are caused by technical vulnerabilities, like gaps in defense firewalls and unprotected networks, but the reality is human error is often to blame and persists as the weakest link in most cybersecurity chains.

So what are the biggest human risk dangers in cybersecurity? How can you learn to spot them? How can identifying the weak spots on your staff help you build a better human firewall?

Biggest Human Risk Dangers

One of the most concerning dangers in cybersecurity is the lack of cyber awareness and cyber education about the potential risks we present to our employers as humans. Many people assume cyberattacks only happen to large corporations or high-profile individuals, but smaller targets can often be easier scores for cybercriminals. Hackers evolve their tactics. Phishing emails, for example, have become as sophisticated as, if not more sophisticated than, real communications. It’s hard to spot the fake these days!

This amplifies the risk of human error. Even well-trained, well-intentioned employees and staff members can trip up, mistakenly allowing non-privileged access. Falling for a phishing scam, using weak passwords across multiple accounts, or failing to update software can all result in big risks. In some cases, employees may inadvertently install malware or click on a malicious link, giving hackers access to sensitive information.

Another major concern when it comes to human risk is insider threats. It’s important to trust your employees and access to information or special clearances can often make employees feel valued and integral. But it’s also important to recognize staff as a source of risk. Employees may intentionally leak sensitive information as part of a revenge plot to hurt the company if they feel wronged in some manner. Other times, employees may unintentionally relinquish credentials or allow cybercriminals access to systems resulting in damages and irreparable harm.

How to Spot Human Risk Weak Spots

Spotting potential human risk dangers can be challenging. Employees may not even realize they’re putting their company at risk.

So what are some problematic tendencies you can identify and mitigate?

Employees who consistently fail phishing testing simulations need more education and training on cybersecurity best practices. That’s where a comprehensive cybersecurity training program can benefit the employee directly and the company overall.

Another red flag is employees frequently using weak passwords or failing to update their software. This behavior indicates laziness or a lack of understanding of best practices and the risks involved with not adhering to strict security guidelines. Cyber threats must be taken seriously.

Unusual behavior should also be noted. Employees accessing sensitive information they don’t typically request, asking for new security clearances, and accessing systems outside normal business hours from hidden or unusual locations, should all draw suspicion and investigation. While not every instance of unusual behavior will be indicative of malicious intent, it’s important to investigate any suspicious activity fully to ensure your organization remains as secure as possible.

Resolving Weak Spots

Building a bolstered human firewall doesn’t happen overnight. Once weak spots are identified, a closer look at the steps required to resolve them is necessary. Enrolling problematic, susceptible employees in additional cybersecurity training will help mitigate the likelihood of future failure.

The danger of human risk includes both employees in the office every day and those who may work from home or satellite locations or offices from time to time as well. Ensure you have a standard operating procedure in place so staff working outside the protection of your network understands how to stay secure. Those employees who may be less tech-savvy should take training on best practices using public networks and services to fortify their personal human firewall and avoid falling for scams or allowing a data breach opportunity.

Addressing weak spots and not just identifying them is part of any good audit. Providing additional education and cybersecurity training is a delicate balance between informing your staff and forcing them into training fatigue.

Limit access to sensitive data, enforce strict password practices, and be proactive when it comes to managing human risk within your organization. A consistent approach will yield better results, build a stronger human firewall, and reduce the risk of cyberattacks.

The Bottom Line

Cybersecurity breaches are becoming part of our everyday lives. While many attacks look to exploit any gaps or vulnerabilities in technical systems and defenses, humans are often the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain and need to be aware of the risk they present to their employer, privileged data, and themselves. Lack of cyber awareness and cyber education perpetuates human error and insider threats. There are many human risk dangers to be aware of. By taking steps to spot these dangers and identifying your weak spots, you can build a stronger human firewall, resulting in a reduced risk of successful cyberattacks. Don’t rest on short-term cybersecurity success! Consistent, constant cybersecurity training and phishing testing will yield the best results and drive your organization to a better overall security posture.