The Weakest Link: Cyber Risks During the Coronavirus Crisis

An organization’s level of cyber defense is always determined by the weak link- the human element. During these times, the risk becomes greater and more important than ever. Employee education on the matter of cyber threats is essential and crucial for the safety of the organization’s network and property

 

Guy Dagan. Photo: Miki Schauder

The Coronavirus pandemic is changing the world as we know it. The impact is especially impactful in the cyber world. Many local and global organizations are forced to adapt to the concepts of working from home, increased dependence on digital services and collaboration platforms. They also need to be aware of the availability and reliability of data required for proper work continuation.    

There is one other major issue that organizations must adapt to. The transfer to a work from home routine further amplifies one of the major cyber threats known to us; the human element and its awareness and ability to manage cyber threats.

When it comes to the human element, there are two main challenges:

We are the weak link – Statistics indicate that around 80-85 percent of successful cyber-attacks use the human factor as a point of entrance to organization’s internal networks and data. This usually happens when the majority of employees are present in the office, a time normally considered as a safe environment and is managed by the information security team.

Our current state is to work from home for an unknown period and the organization’s information security and employee level of awareness becomes critical. In addition to cyber risks present, an additional layer of risks and threats relevant to the home workspace is added. 

How do you work securely from home? How do you balance between private and work-related uses concerning the home computer or the work assigned laptop? How do you prevent data leakage and create a private work environment? How can you work securely using collaboration platforms? These are just the few challenges and new habits the information security team must educate and enforce on employees. We already know the line between work and private life is slim at best, but now it doesn’t exist at all.

According to professionals, the risk level that the human element imposes on the cyber world is expected to rise in the coming months. We have already witnessed a sharp global increase in the number of attacks and fraud attempts. Recently, AKAMI reported a major increase in cyber-attacks this March and This trend is likely to continue. Unlike before, attackers are required to pass less layers of protection in order to successfully hack the organizational network. Cyber security personnel are decreasing due to the downsizing measures organizations are required to take as a coping method with the new situation.

As a result, increasing the overall awareness and education of the human factor regarding traditional and recent cyber risks is of high importance. 

The internal risk – We must face reality. People all over the world are stressed, panicked and are in a state of constant uncertainty. This is not only due to the health issues resulting from the virus, but also from financial distress, uncertainty, expectations of a further increase in unemployment rates, recession, and more. One possible outcome in these times of high pressure, is that employees will lack focus and make mistakes which will lead to loss or leakage of information and even hacking of the organizational network.

In conclusion, the organization’s level of cyber defense is always determined by the weak link- the human element. During these times, the risk becomes greater and more important than ever. Employee education on the matter of cyber threats is essential and crucial for the safety of the organization’s network and property, with regards to new work conditions and the additional risks that manifest as a direct result of them. 

We at Consienta are aware of the problem and have recently developed awareness packages for organizations directed towards those exact needs. A cyber awareness package for working from home, to assist companies with securely getting through the challenging times and turning the weakest link into the strongest one.

Guy Dagan is the founder and CEO of Consienta Co.

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