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When Technology Fails The Human Element Becomes Your First Line of Defense

Employees are essential to preserving the security of systems and sensitive data, which might suffer serious financial, operational, and reputational loss if it fell into the wrong hands. The bad news is that employees make mistakes; according to Verizon, human error accounts for 85% of data breaches.

When Technology Fails The Human Element Becomes Your First Line of Defense

Employees are crucial in maintaining the security of systems and sensitive information, which, in the wrong hands, may result in significant financial, operational, and reputational harm. The bad news is that mistakes are made by employees; according to Verizon, 85 percent of data breaches involve human error.

Human mistake is a significant issue. Typos and password forgetfulness are only two examples of the daily blunders made at work. Unfortunately, seemingly little errors like downloading an attachment from an unknown sender or misdirecting an email can result in more damage than simply a blush. According to IBM, human error is a primary factor in 95% of all breaches. Businesses must teach their users to avoid mistakes, whether they result from ignorance or a brief lapse in judgment.

One of the most effective methods to improve cybersecurity is to better manage the people behind a brand since people are frequently the ones who are tricked into entering networks. To address their human element of security, more companies are implementing security awareness training programs, but inconsistent and general training doesn’t always stay, and it may be challenging to quantify. To control that human risk, security awareness programs and the experts in charge of them are essential.

Recognizing the need for security awareness program is insufficient

The SANS 2022 Security Awareness Report provides insight into potential avenues for security awareness program development and maturation as well as career advancement for security awareness experts. The report for this year simply reiterates the notion that the security awareness program got more mature the more individuals who opted to administer and support it. This results in teams with more ambitious objectives. These bigger teams are better able to engage, inspire, and teach their workforce to manage these risks as well as collaborate with the security team to identify, monitor, and prioritize their top human hazards. Recognizing the need for an established security awareness program is insufficient. A mature company is one that can successfully evaluate, manage, and assess its human risk.

How mature is your awareness program?

To account for the program’s degree of maturity, there must be a scaled measure of the process. The most advanced security awareness programs use a metrics framework to monitor and communicate the values to leadership while also changing the behavior and culture of their workforce. The maturity level at which the present awareness campaign is operating determines these frameworks. The Security Awareness Maturity Model is a crucial first step in addressing the lack of a security awareness framework or maturity model. This model, which was created by agreement of more than twenty distinct organizations, aids organizations in determining how mature their program is and where they may take it.

Level 1: Non-Existent Program (Employees have no idea that they are a target, that their actions have a direct impact on the security of the organization)
Level 2: Compliance Focused (Employees are unsure of organizational policies and/or their role in protecting their organization’s information assets)
Leven 3: Promoting Awareness & Behavioral Change (Employees understand and follow organization policies and actively recognize, prevent, and report incidents)
Level 4: Long Term Sustainment (Employees have gone beyond changing behavior and is changing their beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of security)
Level 5: Metrics (This program has a strong metrics framework to evaluate progress and gauge impact that is in line with the organization’s objective. As a consequence, the software keeps becoming better and may show a return on investment).

Phishing remains to be the number one security risk

Let’s move on to talk about the risks and the concerns. The top three security risks, according to The SANS 2022 Security Awareness Report, that security awareness professionals are concerned about are as follows:


Phishing: This is done when attackers send malicious emails designed to trick people into falling for a scam. The intent is often to get users to reveal financial information, system credentials or other sensitive data. Phishing is an example of social engineering: a collection of techniques that scam artists use to manipulate human psychology. Social engineering techniques include forgery, misdirection and lying—all of which can play a part in phishing attacks. On a basic level, phishing emails use social engineering to encourage users to act without thinking things through.


Business Email Compromise: This is a type of email cybercrime scam in which an attacker targets a business to defraud the company. Business email compromise is a large and growing problem that targets organizations of all sizes across every industry around the world. BEC scams have exposed organizations to billions of dollars in potential losses.


Ransomware: It is a type of malicious software (malware) that threatens to publish or blocks access to data or a computer system, usually by encrypting it, until the victim pays a ransom fee to the attacker. In many cases, the ransom demand comes with a deadline. If the victim doesn’t pay in time, the data is gone forever or the ransom increases.


Ransomware attacks are all too common these days. Major companies in North America and Europe alike have fallen victim to it. Cybercriminals will attack any consumer, or any business and victims come from all industries.


Lastly, let’s think of what can be done to counteract the aforementioned risks and concerns. For a security awareness program to be truly successful, it is important to analyze and pinpoint the drivers that enhances the maturity.
The following drivers were found to be very important:

Leadership Support: The awareness campaigns that have received the most leadership backing is the most developed. It is needed to boost support in order to expand the awareness program and keep it going for a long time. What are some ways to do it? Use the language of risk. Make it feel urgent. Explain the impact. Make it easier for the leadership to comprehend and routinely see the value that your program is delivering.


Team Size: It takes humans to address the issue since managing human risk is a human task rather than a technological one. It takes people to solve the challenge of managing human risk since it is a people issue. At least three full-time staff members are employed by or contribute to the management of the most developed awareness projects. A broader security awareness team may be created by breaking down needs, forming partnerships, and documenting security team discrepancies.
Frequency: The most mature programs were frequently found in companies with more regular training. It is advised that businesses contact with, communicate with, and/or train their workers at least once every month. The method employed to teach the workforce is less significant than how frequently such methods are effective in engaging learners and making the training easy to comprehend and apply.


These three factors are linked to one another. The more people on the security awareness team, the more efficiently one can collaborate with other departments, and the more often businesses can connect with their employees and engage in training. The size of the security awareness team will increase as leadership support does, but so will the resources and support needed to properly teach, collaborate with, and engage the workforce.

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