Cyber Insurance Blog

Human Error: The Biggest Threat to Cyber Security

Human Error: The Biggest Threat to Cyber Security

As we sip coffee from a temperature-controlled mug, count today’s steps from our smartwatch, or check today’s weather forecast from the interactive screen on the refrigerator, it’s clear that our relationship with technology has changed dramatically over the last few years. We’ve seen the future in technology and there’s no going back. With the average American spending 5.4 hours per day on their phone, it shouldn’t be surprising that the biggest threat to cyber security is still human error.

Despite the advances in technology, cyber security systems, and data protection, it’s still people that are putting our private information and financial security on the line. A data breach can often cost enough to put a company out of business and often, the user unknowingly handed the private information right over to the hacker.

While there are a number of cyber threats that seek out network system vulnerabilities to execute their attacks, the most dangerous cyber risks continue to prey on human emotion and wrongdoing.

Preying on Emotion: Threats to Know

While a computer or network may be able to flag or block many threats, certain cyberattacks are still likely going to reach your clients regularly. Here are some terms they need to know:

  • Social Engineering
    These cyber security threats involve a hacker deceiving an individual into giving away private information, which can include passwords and pin numbers that may grant the hacker access to a confidential system, account, or database. Ever received a phone call warning you that your vehicle’s warranty is about to expire, but you don’t own a car? Or received a letter in the mail warning you about a “final notice” for an overdue bill you don’t recognize? These are all very likely social engineering attempts.
  • Phishing
    This is the most common form of a social engineering attack and comes in the form of an email. These attacks often use “clickbait” subject lines to scare users into hastily opening attachments or clicking on malware-infected links. They also format the emails to mimic those of the legitimate organizations they’re pretending to be.
  • Ransomware
    Once an attacker has gained unauthorized access to a network, account, or system through a social engineering attack, they often carry out a second attack: ransomware. Ransomware attacks deny access to the user until a ransom demand is paid. Both the number of attacks and the severity of the demands continue to climb. Whether or not to pay the demand is still often contested, so it’s best to rely on a breach coach expert when determining the most prudent course of action.

Reducing Risk: Steps to Take

While a computer’s software or antivirus protections may help reduce the number of social engineering threats that reach a user’s eyes or ears, the scary truth is: they won’t stop all of them. More than 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent globally every day. However, there are a number of preventative security measures that can be implemented to significantly reduce the rate of a successful attack.

  1. Know How to Identify a Social Engineering Attack
    The best way to thwart a social engineering attempt is to simply know what to look for. Here are a few red flags to watch for:

    • “Clickbait” Subject Lines
      These are meant to lure the user in with subject matter that will often induce panic, such as “overdue notice,” “final warning,” etc. Always take a moment to stop and take extra time to make sure the message appears accurate before opening any attachments or clicking on links.
    • Grammar
      Most phishing emails will have a number of spelling and grammatical errors.
    • Vague Greeting
      Since scammers may not have much personal information, they will generally use a generic greeting, such as “dear customer” rather than addressing your client by name as a legitimate business usually will.
  2. Close up of five sets of hands from employees of varying ethnicities and genders all reach for white puzzle pieces. Emphasize Education
    Education should become a part of every company’s culture. All employees should receive regular cyber security training on how to identify attacks. Employees that are not up to date on cyber crime often allow some of the biggest threats to cyber security into the company’s network or system.
  3. Employ Secure Email Gateway (SEG)
    This is a type of software that monitors both incoming and outgoing emails to defend against malicious correspondence while still allowing legitimate emails both in and out of users’ inboxes.
  4. Select Strong Passwords
    A strong password utilizes symbols, numbers, and both upper and lower case letters. Avoid using common words or phrases. The more complicated the password, the more difficult it will be for a hacker to carry out their attack.
  5. Utilize Multi-Factor Authentication
    This is a security enhancement that requires the user to present two different pieces of information to validate their credentials.
  6. Verify All Contact Information
    Do not use the contact information listed on suspicious correspondence as this could link directly back to the cyber criminal. Always reference public phone numbers, addresses, and emails that are made available on the organization’s public website to verify the validity of the possible phishing correspondence.
  7. Update Software Immediately
    While those pop-up reminders on a computer can be annoying, they’re important. The most current software updates often include security patches for newly discovered vulnerabilities.
  8. Cyber Insurance Policy
    The scary truth is, even the most secure organizations are still at risk of a cyberattack. A cyber insurance policy is the best way to protect against the potential financial damages of a cyber security attack. This is one of the most important steps of an organization’s risk management.

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Protect Your Clients Today

It’s clear that cyberattacks are on the rise. Even with every possible security measure in place, every company is still at risk of an attack. Without a cyber insurance policy in place, the financial impact of a cyber event can be devastating to an organization.

With a cyber insurance policy, your clients will be protected from a number of serious exposures, including:

  • First-Party Coverages
    • IT forensic costs
    • Notification costs
    • Credit protection costs
    • Crisis management costs
    • Crime and social engineering
  • Third-Party Coverages
    • Breach of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), including credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank account information, private health information, and sensitive corporate information.
    • Claims related to breach of contract, negligent protection of data, network security breaches, the transmission of software viruses, fines and penalties, plus more.
  • Additional Coverages
    • Multi-media coverage
    • Cyber extortion
    • Cyber business interruption
    • Digital asset damage

In addition, a cyber insurance policy offers the opportunity for a breach coach to walk your clients through the recovery process step-by-step, should they fall victim to an attack, and provide crucial guidance on matters such as whether or not to pay a ransom demand.

For more information on the impact of human error (the biggest threat to cyber security), download our FREE eBook, Cyber Exposure: What’s the Real Cost? to learn more about the potential risks your clients are facing.

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