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9 Cyber Security Threats Related to Human Risk

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Cyber security threats are evolving at an unprecedented pace, and one of the most significant factors contributing to this vulnerability is human risk. As technology advances, so do the tactics employed by cybercriminals to exploit the weakest link in the security chain – humans.

According to a study by IBM, 95% of cyber security breaches result from human error.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the top 10 cyber security threats associated with human risk, shedding light on the critical need for organisations to prioritise cyber security education and awareness.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are one of the most common methods cybercriminals use to exploit human vulnerabilities. These attacks involve hackers disguising themselves as trustworthy entities – it could be a bank, a service provider, or even a colleague. The attacker then sends an email or text message to the target, urging them to take immediate action. This action typically involves clicking on a link or opening an attachment.

Once the victim clicks on the provided link, they’re directed to a fraudulent website designed to mimic the genuine site. Here, they’re prompted to enter their login credentials, credit card details, or other sensitive information. Unknowingly, they provide this information directly to the attacker.

Phishing attacks can also involve malware. In some cases, the link or attachment in the phishing email might download malicious software onto the victim’s device. This software can then record keystrokes, giving the attacker access to passwords, or compromise the device’s data.

Weak Passwords

A weak password is typically one that is simple, short, and easy to guess. It might be a common word or phrase, a string of sequential numbers, or personal information, such as a birthday or a pet’s name. While these passwords may be easy to remember, they are also easy for hackers to crack using automated tools that can guess thousands of passwords per second.

Social Engineering

Social engineering refers to the psychological manipulation of individuals into performing actions or divulging confidential information. At its core, social engineering is about playing on human emotions. Fear, curiosity, greed, and the instinct to help others are all leveraged to trick individuals into breaking security protocols. Social engineers often present themselves as authority figures, trusted colleagues, or even distressed family members to create a sense of urgency or authenticity.

Lack of Security Training

In the digital age, cyber security is not just an IT concern but a crucial aspect that every individual and organisation must prioritise. Despite this, a lack of security training remains a widespread issue, often leading to behaviours that can significantly increase cyber risk.

The lack of security training implies that many individuals and organisations do not have adequate knowledge about cyber security best practices. This gap in understanding and skills can result in risky behaviours, such as using weak or reused passwords, clicking on suspicious links, downloading unverified software, or sharing sensitive information online.

Inadequate Software Updates

Failing to update software regularly can leave systems vulnerable to cyber attacks, as updates often include patches for security vulnerabilities. When users delay or ignore these updates, they continue to use versions of software that is potentially insecure. This is akin to leaving their digital doors unlocked, inviting cybercriminals to exploit the known weaknesses in their system.

The WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 exploited a vulnerability in outdated versions of Microsoft Windows, affecting hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide.

Use of Unsecured Networks

Unsecured networks, such as public Wi-Fi hotspots, do not require authentication to establish a network connection. This means that any device within the Wi-Fi range can connect to the network, making it easier for cybercriminals to access unsecured devices on the same network.

A VPN can provide a secure connection over public networks by encrypting your data and hiding your online activity from potential eavesdroppers.

Sharing Sensitive Information on Social Media

Social media platforms have become an integral part of our lives, serving as a space to share experiences, connect with friends and family, and access news and entertainment. However, the convenience and connectivity come with risks, especially when sensitive information is shared.

Many people unknowingly share such information, including their location, personal details, or photos that reveal too much about their personal lives. This information can be exploited by cybercriminals for identity theft, stalking, harassment, or other malicious purposes.

Read more: Staying Cyber Secure on Social Media

Physical Security Breaches

Physical security breaches refer to instances where unauthorised individuals gain physical access to sensitive areas or devices. This could be anything from a stolen laptop containing sensitive data, to an intruder gaining access to a server room, or even an employee leaving their workstation unlocked and unattended.

Human negligence often plays a crucial role in these incidents. Leaving devices unattended in public places, failing to properly secure physical spaces, or not following policies about visitor access can all lead to physical security breaches.

Read more: Protecting Against Physical Security Threats

Poor Data Management Practices

Poor data management practices, such as not backing up data or not securing data storage, can lead to data loss or exposure.

While technology is an integral part of cyber security, it is equally critical to address the human risks. By understanding and mitigating these top ten human-related cyber security threats, individuals and organisations can significantly enhance their cyber security posture.

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