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Being proactive in identifying risks before they occur can mean the difference between a reactive, hurried response to a surprise attack and thwarting that attack successfully. But with the ever-evolving nature of threats, how can one stay ahead? To anticipate future threats, it’s crucial to understand where the highest risks may lie. Specifically, the focus should be on the users – the human aspect of cybersecurity risk. They must be well-prepared. The essence of effective cyber risk management lies in recognizing the human factor. By observing risky behaviors, pinpointing potential vulnerabilities, and implementing targeted training, business owners and security professionals can transform human risk into a source of strength. This approach fosters a cybersecurity culture rooted in empowerment rather than fear.

What Is Cybersecurity Risk Management?

Cybersecurity risk management encompasses a comprehensive strategy for identifying, assessing, evaluating, and ultimately controlling the cybersecurity threats facing an organization. The primary objective for organizations adopting this approach is to ensure that the most significant threats are addressed promptly. However, a common oversight in many cybersecurity risk management frameworks is the underestimation of the human factor in risk.

Why is Human Behavior Key to Risk Management?

In the realm of cybersecurity risk management, the only constant is uncertainty. Threats are in a state of continual flux, changing from day to day, even hour to hour. Identifying which potential threats take precedence demands vigilance, sharp insight, and the ability to adapt quickly. Effective protections for a company hinge on managing risks from external sources, which are often erratic and unpredictable.

However, the danger doesn’t only stem from external sources. Internal threats can be equally, if not more, harmful. Over 80% of data breaches have a human component. Successfully managing human risk can spell the difference between a robust, secure defense and a vulnerable one, compromised by human mistakes or lack of action.

How Human Behavior Affects Cybersecurity

Given the significant influence of human behaviors on security, it’s evident that an effective cybersecurity framework must consider this aspect. After all, what would cybersecurity risk management be if it overlooks the most substantial source of risk?

Among the prevalent human behaviors that often result in security breaches are:

Falling for Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are widely recognized — those emails that seem slightly off, unusually enticing, or from an unfamiliar sender claiming affiliation with our organization. Despite widespread awareness, it’s surprising how frequently people still fall prey to them. A single click on a seemingly legitimate link can jeopardize an entire organization. It’s crucial to educate the most vulnerable individuals or groups within an organization to recognize a phishing email and respond appropriately. This education shouldn’t be a one-time, tick-box exercise. An effective strategy could include sporadic “test” emails to evaluate who clicks on them, who reports them to the security team, and who disregards them altogether.

Lack of Password Security

Using a strong password is crucial, but people often go for easy options. Picking a simple or common password is like leaving your front door unlocked with a valuable item in plain sight. Regularly checking for and alerting users about weak passwords, urging them to make their passwords stronger, is an easy yet effective method to boost security. Additionally, using a password manager that automatically creates, updates, and stores their passwords can be very beneficial.

Falling for Fake Software Updates

This type of threat is like a phishing attack but tends to be more complex and trickier to detect. Many people, wanting to do the right thing, aim to keep their software updated. Unfortunately, they might end up installing malware, thinking they are updating software. The challenge is teaching them to be more careful and discerning. When they encounter a popup or an email asking for an update, will they be able to recognize whether it’s legitimate or not?

Lack of Communication

The key to addressing these frequent human-related cybersecurity risks lies in information. When people are informed about what to do, they don’t have to rely on guesswork. This involves maintaining open channels, not for exposing risks, but for providing education. If a company’s risk management strategy emphasizes and prioritizes managing human risks, it becomes more robust and secure. Additionally, its employees feel more empowered and confident because they are knowledgeable about the correct actions to take.

How to Manage Human Risk Effectively

Effective risk management strategies should always start with collecting more information. Just like you wouldn’t go on a hike or visit a new country without first learning about what to expect, the same principle applies to your organization. One of the best ways to collect more information is through an assessment of your current practices in place.

Cybersecurity Assessments

The CatchMark Cybersecurity team provides cybersecurity assessments which evaluates an organization’s security measures and the effectiveness of those measures in protecting against cyber threats. The assessment involves identifying potential vulnerabilities, assessing the associated risk, and providing recommendations for improving the security posture of the organization.

During the cybersecurity assessment, various aspects of the organization will be evaluated including its policies, processes, procedures, and technical implementations. The goal of a cybersecurity assessment is to identify potential security gaps, provide recommendations to improve the organization’s security program, and identify the follow-on steps companies can take to start building a cybersecurity program that addresses human risk. If you are interested in an assessment, contact us today for more information.