Cyberattacks have been on the rise both in number and sophistication and this has prompted companies to implement tough cybersecurity measures to protect their resources.
Despite this, hackers still find their way into secure networks to steal sensitive data that is put up for sale on the darknet markets or used to commit more cybercrimes such as holding the affected company to ransom.
End users, that is the employees, are the weakest link in a company’s cyber security and for this reason, they are mostly targeted by hackers.
Hackers take advantage of human error within a company’s network. Well-intended (non-malicious) employees can make an honest error, which increases network vulnerability that can be exploited by hackers.
According to a research by IBM, most attacks originate from innocent mistakes by employees.
For instance, an employee can, by mistake, send sensitive data to unintended recipients. This data can get into the hands of hackers who can use it to exploit the company by demanding ransom or gain access to the company’s network.
Social engineering hacks
Hackers target employees as they are aware that they (employees) are vulnerable to social engineering attacks.
The most common social engineering practice being used by hacker is phishing, whereby the attackers use emails attached with links to malicious websites and malware.
These phishing attacks succeed as the hackers are aware of human behavior that they can easily exploit such as lack of awareness and the general nature of humans to trust blindly.
Hackers easily manipulate employee behaviors to gain entry into an otherwise secure system.
Employees fail to comply with security procedures
Employees are known to violate or fail to comply with the security procedures and policies set up by a company.
Sometimes employees tend to think that cyber security is the responsibility of the IT technical team and therefore fail to comply with set policies on cyber security.
In other cases, employees knowingly violate security policies by using unsafe public networks to remotely connect to the company’s network.
In other cases, employees knowingly and maliciously collaborate with hackers to launch attacks into a secure network for personal gains.
Lack of proper training given to employees
Small and medium sized companies also contribute in making their business vulnerable. In most cases, the businesses are known to overlook the need for training of employees on cyber security.
Hackers exploit this lack of awareness to their advantage. Unaware, employees will freely leak login credentials or any other sensitive information with little coercion from hackers.
Employees may be aware of the need for security compliance but do not have the required knowledge on how to go about it.
For instance, lack of knowledge on proper password practices and other basic security mechanisms that have to be carried out by employees gives hackers an added advantage to launch attacks without being identified.
What companies need to do
Companies need to invest heavily in a range of cyber security features, eliminating any possible vulnerability that hackers can exploit.
However, employees still make organisations vulnerable to hackers by lack of awareness, human error, malicious insider works, and their susceptibility to social engineering attacks.
Companies should look to train the employees about best cyber security practices to reduce vulnerability.