Network security is important, but you already know that. For any business, the risk of exposing protected data is always one of the great fears. Big, impressive companies have fallen from grace over data breaches, and it can feel impossible to remain safe.
One of the reasons the battle is so uphill is because the biggest threat to your security is not external. Your own vetted users are the greatest obstacle between you and safe data. Today, you’re going to see strong examples to highlight this point and learn how to nip the problem in the bud.
Phishing can be a uniquely challenging concept for IT experts to tackle. On the surface, many phishing scams are transparent. Someone with vast experience in IT can have difficulty understanding how individuals fall victim to certain schemes. In practice, that inhibits their ability to protect systems from phishing scams. Still, plenty of service providers have systems in place to reduce the risk of phishing. Whether the IT personnel personally understand the problem or not, it represents an important vulnerability that exists in every system: users.
In many enterprise networks, internal users represent the single largest threat to security. This becomes painfully clear when you look at statistics in health care. Regulations make healthcare systems among the best-protected on average. Despite that, research conducted by Baker Hostetler showed that phishing is a plague on the industry.
When researchers looked at 750 security incidents, they found that 25 percent of all problems happened to healthcare systems. Among those incidents, 33 percent put personal data at risk. A full 37 percent of the studied cases were the result of successful phishing scams. If this can happen so frequently in the healhcare industry, it can happen to anyone. Most importantly, phishing is only one of too many ways that internal users can harm security. While 37 percent of security problems were tied to phishing, 55 percent were directly causes by internal users.
This specific study highlights a general problem. These issues can overwhelm any external security — no matter how sophisticated or impressive it might seem. Anyone who has worked at the help-desk level knows that operator error is a huge challenge for all components of IT, but when it comes to security, it’s the very biggest threat that exists. It’s not good enough to just scan incoming traffic and do routine sweeps. To an extent, internal users have to be viewed as a major security risk.
There is good news mixed into this study. They didn’t just look at security breaches; they also studied methods that minimize the problem. In fact, huge progress was observed from 2015 to 2018. In the first year of the study, in-house detection only found 55 percent of security threats. By 2018, that number jumped to 75 percent. It shows that IT experts are aware of the problem and developing solutions. It also shows that this problem can’t be solved with anything less than a focused, deliberate effort.
Here’s the long and short of it:
Your users are the most likely source of danger to your network. That danger can expose personal data and create catastrophic vulnerabilities. That said, investing in in-house detection can do wonders to mitigate the problem, and investing in those measures only grows more valuable. 2019 is expected to show continued improvement in in-house detection, and before long, security measures will be able reduce these threats to a manageable level. But, that defense will only be available if you prioritize in-house detection and user-generated security risks.
About the Author: Brittany Peckham
Brittany grew up in Oregon, Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Business School with a Bachelor’s degree in Management and Human Resources with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. Brittany has been working with Valicom for many years creating content for the TEM industry to deliver the many benefits users and organizations can experience in utilizing TEM services. With a passion for social media marketing, Brittany enjoys applying creativity throughout various areas of her life while expressing creativity in everything she does and loves being consumed in projects, from start to finish.