What’s the biggest threat to cyber security? It might be your employees

Whilst new viruses, phishing schemes and hacks are well publicised as being some of the most significant threats to the digital security of a business, research indicates that actually 54% of executives believe that it’s their own staff who pose the greatest threat to the cyber security of the company.

Although these results indicated that a large proportion of business owners and managers felt that there was no malicious intent behind the actions of their employees, the bare facts were that security breaches were still taking place, either as a result of a lack of awareness on the part of employees or simple carelessness causing security breaches such as data loss.

The report entitled ‘Boardroom Cyber Watch’ was compiled by risk management and compliance organisation IT Governance and also revealed that some 25% of those polled admitted that their company had been subject to a ‘concerted cyber attack in the past year.’ However, the vast majority of those who took part in the survey admitted to not having a particularly full understanding of the risks to cyber security and how to prevent them, which could explain why employees further down the line have similar failings.

With a rise in the number of hacking attacks in recent times, particularly with respect to many new forms of digital communication and advanced technology, such as mobile devices and even the Apple operating system (which was previously thought to be fairly impenetrable), there is a renewed motivation for businesses to start getting tough when it comes to enforcing cyber security measures within their own organisations. Given the large percentage of executives who feel that their own employees are the issue, the logical next step is to introduce training and awareness programmes, renew policies on internet usage and social media interactions and to ensure that protection is incorporated into contracts of employment to give a business the right to warn, discipline and, ultimately, dismiss those who aren’t careful enough when it comes to cyber security.

Problem areas for employee security breaches are likely to include being careless with passwords, losing devices or leaving them in public places, using a work laptop to sign onto an unverified wireless network, inadequate password choices and downloading programmes onto work hardware. There are numerous other risks that have been ushered in with the digital age and for many businesses now tightening up cyber security programmes is going to have to start with their own team.

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