UncommonX Blog

Humans Error Remains a Major Factor in Cyber Threats

Lack of cyber security knowledge and fatigue

Human error is predicted to remain a major factor in cyber security threats for 2023. In 2022, research by the World Economic Forum found that 95 percent of cyber security issues could be traced back to human error. Likewise, almost a third of cyber security professionals (30 percent) told Cyber Security Hub that lack of cyber security expertise was the number one threat to cyber security at their organization.

Texas-based cybersecurity and national security expert Charles Denyer cited Verizon's 2022 Data Breaches Investigations Report, noting that “one [in] four [82 percent] data breaches can be attributed to human error”. 

As a result of this, Denyer says: “When ensuring the safety and security of an organizations digital assets”, cyber security awareness training “is still the very best and most valuable return on investment.”  

He says that this is because the more knowledgeable and aware users are, the better the chances an organization has in protecting its assets.

We use tools to make life easier

Since prehistoric times, humankind has developed tools to make their lives easier, more productive, and even safer. Yet those tools didn’t operate on their own. They needed people to weld them and use them in order to get the most out of them. Today, it’s the same. Only, these days, a vast number of tools are digital, and they need human oversight to implement and manage them now more than ever. This is especially true for cybersecurity.

For decades, the number and level of attacks, breaches, and potential dangers to vital data have escalated to the point where organizations in every industry are taking measures to ensure their assets and technical infrastructures are safeguarded. These threats are also becoming much more sophisticated almost every day. Yet too many companies are relying on security tools alone to protect them.

While artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have advanced dramatically the past few years, they still aren’t at a point where they can fully protect against the building storm of cyber threats. Effective security is much more than just plugging in some off-the-shelf device and then sitting back hoping for the best. In fact, that type of complacency can lead to disaster.

Here are a few reasons why.

Security Tools Aren’t Omnipotent

Cyber criminals breach organizations by taking advantage of vulnerabilities within your environment. They’re like water: they pour over every inch of your network until they find an opening they can seep through. Then they flood your system, causing potentially irreparable damage.

But no matter how many devices you install, there’s a chance you may not cover every possible entry point. You also risk vulnerabilities if you install the wrong tools. All it takes is one gap or blind spot to expose you to attacks.

You may have devices covering every possible opening, but they aren’t omnipotent. Even the latest technology can’t see everything. That means there’s a chance some malware program could slip past.

Most Devices Will Eventually Fail

Cyber threats continue to evolve every year and they’re getting more and more difficult to fight. One reason is cyber criminals are constantly creating nastier ways of crippling digital devices and entire networks. They’re experts at figuring out how to bypass most security tools sooner or later. Once they do, your tools are virtually useless. The toolkit has even evolved to including automated programs that will morph without human intervention; similar to biological viruses.

Some software and devices are released by manufacturers unintentionally with built-in vulnerabilities or defects that can be exploited. Other tech will just wear out over time and stop working. Once those weaknesses are discovered, the information is shared amongst criminals, and it may not be long before they pierce your defenses.

Technology Is Only as Effective as Your People

Most tools require human involvement to ensure they are being applied correctly, used effectively, and replaced immediately if they fail. Technology can relay data and send alerts, yet they can’t fully defend against attacks, especially from advanced threats sent by shrewd attackers.

Truly effective security is an integrated mix of end-to-end workflow and processes, the right technology for each job, and continuous management by dedicated, trained, and specialized security professionals. A team that can also proactively protect against security threats by developing and implementing security strategies and processes, and then adjusting as needed.

These professionals are also better able to do something technology can’t do alone: determine the validity and true priority of every security threat and vulnerability. Developers are working toward AI that can handle that responsibility, but for now, human insight is needed. They can align the priorities of these threats and determine which ones deserve immediate attention. Then they react quickly and respond accordingly.

Don’t Rely on Technology Alone

Cyber attacks will continue to grow in size and severity. Experts and law enforcement agree that the best way to safeguard against them is for organizations to be proactive. Stop attacks before they happen by strengthening your security maturity levels. Having the right tools in place is critical, but technology alone should never be your only line of defense.

Security takes more than just installing the latest tools. Effective security combines the right technology, in-depth processes, and, most of fall, knowledgeable people. It should also integrate security goals with a company’s business objectives. That way organizations are protected without disrupting their ability to operate.

For more about protecting your organization, contact the UncommonX team to request a demo of our MDR platform and talk about your specific security needs.

About the Author

Glenn Cionek has been engaging and consulting with IT leaders for over 10 years to develop a non bias opinion of what IT leaders largest challenges are regarding cyber security from start up organizations with under 100 employees to the worlds largest global enterprises.

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