With cyber attacks still on the rise, it’s becoming increasingly clear that employees are a prime target for cyber attackers. But why are employees usually targeted by cyber attackers? Lets take a deep dive into the reasons that employees are usually the first targets and the various tactics that are used to exploit them.
From human error to weaker security protocols, we’ll examine the vulnerabilities that make employees an attractive target for cybercriminals and provide tips on how you can prevent these risks. So, if you’re wondering why cyber attackers target employees, read on to find out.
Cyber attacks are an imminent issue for SMBs. Employees are supposed to be loyal and honest, but there are situations when they are the exact opposite. Employees who make careless mistakes will increase the risks of a cyber attack. The following are several actions that some of them will make along with preventative solutions.
Why Are Employees Usually Targeted By Cyber Attackers?
A 2022 study by IBM found that the average cost of a data breach was USD $4.35 million. Nearly 25% of those were caused by employees falling for phishing scams, misconfiguring systems, and accidentally exposing sensitive data.
But why are employees usually targeted by cyber attackers? Why not the owners or CEOs? Cyber attackers often target employees for various reasons, ranging from access to sensitive information to exploiting human error. Here are the top reasons that your employees could be targeted:
- Access to sensitive information: Employees often have access to sensitive information, such as customer data, financial records, and trade secrets. This information can be valuable to cybercriminals who can use it for their own gain or sell it on the dark web.
- Human error: Employees are more likely to fall victim to phishing scams or other tactics that trick them into divulging their login credentials or downloading malware.
- Weaker security protocols: Employees may have weaker security protocols in place than the organization as a whole. For example, they may use weak passwords, reuse passwords across different accounts, or use unsecured public Wi-Fi to access company networks.
- Supply chain attacks: Cybercriminals may target employees as part of a larger supply chain attack, where they attempt to breach multiple organizations to gain access to a specific target. For example, an attacker may target an employee of a supplier to gain access to a larger company’s network.
To reduce the risks associated with these vulnerabilities, organizations can take steps such as implementing robust cybersecurity policies, providing cybersecurity training to employees, and enforcing strict access controls to limit the information that employees can access.
Employees Are Too Lenient With Passwords
There are employees who are too lax about the security of their business accounts. Some give them out to friends or coworkers, while others don’t bother to change the passwords for years. The rest leave their passwords out in the open or don’t bother to conceal the details. By doing this, employees make your company a possible cyber attack target.
The solution is to implement a schedule that requires them to change their passwords regularly. This should occur every few months for large businesses that have many clients and employees. For most companies, once a year is sufficient.
Dealing With Strangers
The importance of not talking to strangers applies to business people, too. Most people are honest, hardworking people, but there is a small percentage who will take advantage of a good business for their own personal gain. Employees who are too open and trusting will talk to professionals outside of the company and reveal all kinds of confidential information.
One way to prevent this is to have newly hired employees sign non-disclosure agreements. This prevents them from disclosing information about the company that could damage it financially or professionally. If the agreement is violated, the company can sue the employee for breach of contract due to an increased risk and vulnerability to a cyber attack.
Turning Off Firewalls and Other Computer Security Systems
Every computer has a basic level of cybersecurity against hackers and identity thieves. There is a firewall that blocks network traffic from accessing the computer’s hard drive. Then, there is antivirus software that blocks malware, such as viruses and worms, from infiltrating the computer system.
Some employees who want to surf the Internet may realize that strong firewalls will prevent them from accessing certain websites. So, they turn off the firewall and leave its protections turned off indefinitely or just for the day. However, some people who intend to leave it off just for one day may forget to turn it back on.
Provide employees with security awareness programs that teach the importance of firewalls and antivirus software. Sometimes, they may only think having a good password is the only security tool they need. Show them the real threats of malware and what a single virus could do to a large, interconnected network of computers.
Consider hiring an IT security specialist to evaluate your computer security systems. Large companies hire teams that specialize in this field. Hire at least one professional to monitor your computer systems by tracking your employees’ online activities, making sure that the security systems are turned on and working properly, and reviewing recent malware threats.
Too Lenient With Building Security
Every commercial building has some kind of security system in place. At the minimal level, this includes door locks with keys, cameras pointed toward the door, and floodlighting for the parking lot. Even with the most stringent methods set into place, it’s still possible for criminals to slip in undetected. This occurs when highly trusted employees will carelessly compromise the building’s security, which allows strangers to enter. An example is leaving their key around for anyone to pick up or forgetting to repair a broken security camera.
The easiest solution is not to give privileges to any employee, but it’s not realistic because every business owner has to trust their employees. Another tip is to share responsibilities among different members of a team. It’s less effective to have one person be in control of all security duties. Have one person be in control of checking the cameras, while another person checks the door locks and so on.
So, why are employees usually targeted by cyber attackers? Attacks often target employees because they can provide access to sensitive information, are vulnerable to human error, have weaker security protocols, and can be part of a larger supply chain attack. This is why employees are usually targeted by cyber attackers.
Cyber attacks occur at all levels of business. There are identity thieves who want your customers’ personal data and trespassers who want to steal the company’s laptops. The worst attacks are caused by employees who are not paying attention to the risks or refuse to act responsibly. Creating an employee security awareness training program is only one solution. Look for a wide range of solutions to improve your business’s cybersecurity. Start by contacting Sabre IT Solutions at 226-336-6259 or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for all your cybersecurity needs.