One of the most common misconceptions about cybersecurity is that it mostly has to do with computers and technology. This widely accepted misconception plays a major role in the surging number of data breaches and cyber-attacks that are on the rise today.
In 2020 alone, 43% of C-Suite business leaders reported human error as the top cause of their data breaches. It is therefore crucial to realize the critical role people have to play in cybersecurity. But why do people have such a lasting impact?
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What is the humanistic side of Cybersecurity?
The cyber threat landscape has long evolved from traditional attack vectors. Gone are the days when cybercriminals launched attacks targeting network and software vulnerabilities. It’s probably because organizations now secure their networks with various tools like a VPN or anti-malware software, while neglecting the humanistic aspects of cybersecurity.
Such neglect has given threat actors the opportunity they need to harness the humanistic side of cybersecurity. There are several cybersecurity techniques and attacks that take advantage of the humanistic aspect of cybersecurity, such as:
1. Social engineering
Nicknamed the art of human hacking, social engineering uses the manipulation of human interactions to perform malicious activities. In a successful social engineering attack, the threat actor uses a combination of reconnaissance techniques and psychological manipulation and misleads the victim into revealing sensitive information or disrupting cybersecurity. There are several types of social engineering attacks, including some of the most common:
- Phishing: The most common type of attack, it works by creating a sense of urgency, curiosity and fear in the victim, prompting them to reveal information, click on malicious links or download malware.
- Spear Phishing: A targeted phishing scam where the threat actor picks the victim and tailors the attack based on the scouts they have collected.
- Provocation: The attack exploits the natural human tendency of curiosity and greed through false promises. It mainly contains some form of physical media to transmit malware, such as a USB drive.
- Scareware features bombard the victim with false alarms and fictitious threats, causing them to install malicious software or reveal private information.
Social engineering attacks have been around for quite some time and as these attacks work to exploit human weaknesses, they may not stop anytime soon.
2. Business Email Compromise
Business Email Compromise or BEC attacks involve a threat actor hacking into a corporate email account and defrauding other employees and members of the company to provide the threat actor with money or sensitive information. The theta actor impersonates a senior member of the company with authority over finances, knowledge, and several other employees. These attacks are also known as “man-in-the-mail” attacks, a term derived from the “man-in-the-middle” attack. Some of the most common forms of a BEC scam are as follows:
- Fraudulent billing scam: It is when the threat actor uses a compromised business email to send an invoice to customers and customers, requesting payments to go to the threat actor’s account.
- Fake Lawyer Scam: When a threat actor hacks into a lawyer’s email account and emails clients to send instant payments.
- Fake Boss Scam: A threat actor hacks into the account of the CEO or company leaders and instructs employees to urgently send money to a fraudulent account.
While most corporate email attacks involve stealing money, these attacks are also often used to steal PII, trade secrets, or other sensitive information.
3. Human Error in Cybersecurity
It is not only human-oriented cyber attacks that are increasing. Human error is another increasing cause of data breaches and cybersecurity problems. An IBM study shows that human error is the leading cause of 95% of information security breaches. Granted, these human errors are unintentional actions, often due to a lack of knowledge, but they have a catastrophic impact on a company’s cybersecurity infrastructure.
Human errors in the cyber society are not limited to one particular action; rather, it encompasses different activities in which each action has a rather dire effect on cybersecurity. Some of the most common examples of human error in cybersecurity include:
- Losing or Losing Passwords
- Inadvertently downloading malicious attachments
- Using public Wi-Fi to access company information
- Falling victim to a social engineering tactic
- Leaving important information unprotected and unattended.
Such mistakes are unfortunately common in the modern business world. They are often due to a lack of awareness. Most of the time, employees cannot recognize if they are victims of a social engineering attack or are about to download a malicious attachment, mainly because they do not know what this scam looks like. Other times, it is mere carelessness about data processing or forgetfulness that exploits a threat actor.
How do you reduce the human factor in cybersecurity?
The modern threat landscape requires dealing with cybersecurity through a holistic approach. It implies implementing the use of network security software and recognizing the humanistic aspect of cybersecurity. As the human factor within cybersecurity becomes increasingly important, the following methods are widely considered to implement a humanistic approach to cybersecurity:
1. Educating and spreading cybersecurity awareness among employees
Educating and spreading awareness regarding the increasing cybersecurity issues and issues can help a business in the long run. Because employees know how to spot common phishing attacks or the telltale signs of a malware attack, they can mitigate them or alert the security team at the right time. In addition, spreading knowledge and awareness about cybersecurity practices can significantly reduce the number of lost passwords and compromised credentials.
2. Implement a security policy
A security policy can help significantly reduce cybersecurity risks and issues. The policy should describe the essential methods and ways employees should handle critical data, such as mandating a VPN when working remotely or protecting accounts with multi-factor authentication. The organization must regularly review and review these rules to ensure they are up-to-date with the increasing cybersecurity issues and threats.
3. Provide access control
Stealing data and finances is the reason a cyber attack takes place, which is why both assets must be carefully protected. Access to sensitive data and finances must be closely monitored and only authorized persons should have access to them. Only a handful of people who have access to such critical elements can significantly help reduce data breach issues.
It is essentially true that humans are often considered to be one of the weakest links in the cybersecurity chain. However, if we work to eliminate that weakness, we can ensure a robust and cyber-secure environment within our offices. Recognizing the humanistic cybersecurity challenges and addressing them accordingly is critical to achieving that cybersecurity.