The phrase ‘a poor craftsman blames his tools’ is a truism that echos through to this day, and can be applied in the case of cybersecurity also. The systems and security measures in place regarding cybersecurity are only as effective as the individuals making use of them. If an employee lacks proper training or simply decides not to follow cybersecurity protocols, the system is exposed and hackers have a way in. Cyber criminals, more often than not, exploit the weaknesses of a company’s employees rather than attempting to break through the systems themselves. The term ‘human firewall’ is used to describe people who follow safe practices and report suspicious activity in order to prevent hackers from finding a way in. The need for a strong human firewall is undeniable, for any organisation. If your employees are as impenetrable as your systems, your organisation is secure.
Human firewalls, unlike digital firewalls, are somewhat difficult to build, due to the fact that they are made up of real people and there will always be some degree of human error. As opposed to using a collection of advanced software algorithms, you’re relying on human behaviour. An effective human firewall comprises trained employees who are able to both identify and prevent cybersecurity threats. The strength of this firewall is entirely dependent on the performance of the group – a single weak link could easily compromise the entire system.
No matter how large or small your organisation, employees play a role in how operations are conducted – we have not yet reached the point where every process is automated. There are, however, both strengths and weaknesses. Phishing scams have been around since the dawn of the internet and yet somehow, they still account for over 90% of data breaches. This is due to the fact that often, employees do not receive training around how to identify cybersecurity threats – a fact which makes them low hanging fruit for cyber criminals. The reason why phishing scams still account for the vast majority of data breaches is that it is far easier to exploit the gullibility of untrained employees than break through a sophisticated digital firewall. Below is a list of some of the vulnerabilities that hackers often exploit.
As mentioned above, phishing is the most common form of employee-targeted cyber-attacks – it is also the most basic. Despite the fact that phishing scams have been around for so long, people still continue to fall for them. Phishing often involves fake emails that are made to look legitimate in order to trick the recipient into thinking that they are real. You can improve your human firewall by notifying your staff of the phishing scams that are being circulated at a given time.
Malware is an intrusive piece of software that is designed to damage computer systems, and is distributed through compromised websites. Examples of malware include viruses, spyware and ransomware. Never before has browsing the internet been as dangerous as it is today. Using an illegal streaming service or clicking a pop-up can result in an employee contracting malware on their company computer. Malware-related breaches can sometimes occur during at-home activity of employees on personal devices. Should an employee torrent a file from a suspicious website, the virus could acquire login credentials for their corporate email account. By including in-depth cybersecurity training as part of your cybersecurity plan, you can ensure that these types of breaches do not occur.
Lost or Stolen Devices
If you want a 360-degree approach to cybersecurity, you need to have the physical threats covered as well as the digital ones – failing to do so is why so many businesses fail at maximising their security coverage. Theft is a major risk factor of human cybersecurity.
The Human Firewall and Corporate Cybersecurity
According to Forbes, 69% of enterprises believe AI will be necessary to respond to cyber-attacks, and 61% cannot detect breach attempts today without the use of AI technology. Nevertheless, these systems are rendered ineffective if an employee downloads a virus from a fake email. This is the primary reason why phishing threats continue to plague high-security organisations – employees are the weak link in any cybersecurity system. In order to safeguard your assets and data, a strong human firewall is essential.
Strengthening Your Human Firewall
While employees may be your greatest weakness in terms of cybersecurity, there are things that you can do in order to ensure that you have a strong human firewall.
Similar to how code signing is used to secure data transfers, a 2-Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication system is essentially a safety net for those who might fall for phishing scams. With 2FA/MFA, employees must provide two or more pieces of information at each login, thereby adding an extra layer of security. These systems are commonly used by banks to ensure their clients’ accounts are secure. These systems may require an additional device to receive a one-time code, meaning that the hacker’s task of stealing information is made all the more difficult – ensuring that the human firewall is stronger.
Taking the time to educate your staff on issues around cybersecurity can ensure that they know how to identify and avoid threats as they emerge. A strong human firewall is imperative to maintaining cast-iron cybersecurity defences, and your human firewall can improve your digital security. Nevertheless, this is not an overnight fix and it requires maintenance. A common practice amongst IT leaders is to send out in-house phishing scams to track success rates and identify those who might be susceptible to scams.
For any company that wants to have 360-degree cybersecurity protocols, building a strong human firewall is essential. This requires effective cybersecurity training programs that consistently test employees to determine how susceptible they might be to phishing. A strong human firewall also needs to be maintained, and training programs should account for the physical elements involved. Building a resistant cybersecurity network requires experience and expertise in order to cover every angle. Not all companies have the necessary talent at their disposal.
– If you would like to upgrade your cybersecurity systems to develop 360-degree coverage, enlisting the help of professionals such as Advanced German Technology is the way forward. Our team of industry-leading experts and professionals will solve your individual cybersecurity needs and maximise your protection. To learn more about how AGT can help you to improve your human firewall, contact us today.