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Employees: The Weakest Link in Security?

Dyman & Associates Risk Management Projects


Hardly a day goes by without news of another data breach. It's safe to say that we live and work in risky times. But there's a growing recognition that cybercriminals aren't the only threat—or even the primary threat to an enterprise. "There's a far greater need to educate and train employees about security issues and put controls and monitoring in place to increase the odds of compliance," says John Hunt, a principal in information security at consulting firm PwC.


It's a task that's easier said than done, particularly in an era of BYOD, consumer technology and personal clouds. According to Jonathan Gossels, president and CEO of security firm SystemsExperts, it's critical to construct policies and security protections around two basic areas: malicious insiders and those who inadvertently breach security. "The best security program in the world can be undermined by ill-advised behavior," Gossels explains.


Construct effective policies. Surveys indicate that many workers are not adhering to existing policies. In some cases, they simply disregard them. "The thing that you have to keep in mind," notes Hunt, "is that policies must be clear, understandable and not interfere with the ability of people to get their work done." If an organization is struggling with non-compliance and shadow IT, then it may be time to reexamine policies, as well as the underlying systems and tools the enterprise has in place. "Many organizations have older policies that don't take into account today's tech tools, such as iPads and other portable devices," says Hunt. The policies should also extend to contract workers and freelancers, he notes.