How should organisations address the weakest link in their cybersecurity?

Humans have long been the weakest link in cybersecurity, which in turn has allowed the success and survival of veteran cyber threats such as phishing

“You’re only as strong as your weakest link.”

Cliché, but true. Strangely, even with this knowledge, cybersecurity’s weakest link has famously been humans for many years. Annually, statistics show that an alarming percentage of data breaches have occurred as a result of human error.

You could invest in the shiniest, most robust security solutions out there, but human error has the power to render these useless in a breach. No security solution in existence can stop your employees losing their corporate devices. Likewise, no security solution can stop your employees clicking on a bad link or downloading an infected file. To make matters worse, many breaches could be mitigated if employees could only practice better password hygiene.

Malicious actors play on these factors to their advantage. Phishing attacks are still thriving after all these years because humans allow them to.

A human-first approach

While the above may allude that humans are not exactly an enterprise’s favourite asset, the case should actually be quite the opposite. Your employees have the thinking capabilities that technologies do not. In turn, they can identify suspicious activity better than any machine can.

Of course, technology is advantageous in that it can work at speed and at scale. Thus, what organisations should be doing is using humans and technology to complement each other and work together.

However, businesses must first get their workforce up to speed. Much of security mitigation, particularly in regard to humans, comes down to education. Organisations must provide training across the workforce to explain why every individual makes a difference.

Businesses should also use this as an opportunity to outline the most common threats that humans are vulnerable to (such as phishing) and demonstrate why employees should be more vigilant in their day-to-day. By running workshops periodically, you can sustain security awareness and significantly mitigate risk.

As some final food for thought: businesses should not use cybersecurity solutions to replace the human capabilities. Instead, the two should work together, while also fostering an enterprise-wide understanding of cybersecurity and why it’s so important. The two will make for a powerful combination and give you a competitive edge that malicious actors will struggle to rival.

Don’t miss our CxO of the Week, Howie Liu at Airtable.