Does your organization have a cyber security policy and procedure in place? Do they even have a cyber security team? If the answers to these questions is no, you may become the biggest threat to your organization. 

Curious how? In this article, the topic of how employees become the largest threat to an organization will be broken down and explained. 

 


 

An Inside Job?

To begin, here is an important question. Has your employer, company or organization ever fallen victim to a cyber security attack? With ever evolving technology, criminals continue to create ways to target a business. 

Continuing, not all threats are the same in execution or result. Some attacks are more outsider driven, and others occur from the inside. Employees also have the ability to carry out a cyber attack

Now, several ways exist as to how an employee is the perpetrator in this scenario. Security incidents happen intentionally, and unintentionally at the hands of employees. This is an example of how employees can be the greatest threat to an organization.  

 

How do employees becomes a threat to an organization?

Within a company, employees have access or are granted permissions to an abundance of private information. This information can be customer data or even other employee files. Further, access to technology, for example WiFi and company devices, also gives an employee more means of access. 

Access and privilege trusted to employees is a common way that employees can intentionally attack a company. This information has to potential to be leaked, sold or used against the company.

 

Intentional Sabotage

As one of the less common but extremely dangerous options of employee threats, internal sabotage still occurs. Why you might ask? Several scenarios exist as to how and why employees target their own employer.

One, the employee experienced some type of wrongdoing (in their eyes) at the hands of the company. This could be either being passed up for a promotion, not getting a pay raise or being fired. All three are common examples. 

Once the employee feels as though they experienced said wrong doing by their employer, some take action to return the favor.

An angered employee has the ability to cause a substantial amount of damage to a company. This is due to the fact that they have credentials and access to company information.

For example, the upset employee could use their company clearances to expose customer and other business information online for anyone to see. A data breach is a severe hit to a company for many reasons.

Such reasons include: lawsuits, smear of reputation, cost of cleanup and publicity restoration. All of these effects take time and money to resolve. Thus, meeting the goal of the disgruntled employee and validating the treat employees can intentionally pose. 

 

Unintentional Sabotage

Now, on the other hand, some employees are totally unaware of the severity of the threat they pose to an organization. 

Mistakes happen, that is just a part of life. But, sometimes the effects of said mistakes can bring unwanted issues for a company or business. 

A number of ways exist in how employees can accidentally sabotage a business (in regards to cyber security).

 

Email

For example, an employee may receive a malicious email from an attacker and not realize it. After opening the email, it may appear to come from the IT department asking said employee to reset their password In order to reset the password, they click the provided link. 

The link could contain a malicious download that will now run on the employee’s computer and possible make its way onto the company network. Also, if the employee goes through with the password reset, they may also be handing over their login credentials. This would allow on outsider to now have access to company systems. 

Other opportunities for unintentional sabotage include: visiting malicious sites on the company network, leaking login credentials to unauthorized, and not properly identifying and reporting security issues. 

 

The employee is not completely at fault… 

All in all, the question is, are employees a threat to a company? Yes. Are they a threat in that all employees everywhere are working against their company? No. Finally, do most employees understand the reach of their actions in regard to causing cyber security issues for a company? No. 

Continuing, even though employees can intentionally or unintentionally sabotage a company’s IT infrastructure, the employee is not completely at fault. 

In order to prevent things like employee sabotage, companies need to make the effort to implement proper security elements within their business. 

 

What can a company do to elevate cyber security? 

In order to prevent employees causing cyber issues within a company, here is a list of recommendations to quell the issue. 

Cyber Security Recommendations for Companies

  • Implement cyber security policies and procedures
  • Include access control limits and proper clearances for employees
  • Create a cyber security mitigation plan and task force
  • Educate employees on cyber security threats and other issues
  • Allow a supportive environment for employees to report cyber security issues or ask technical questions

In conclusion, employees may pose a large threat to their organizations. But, with the proper infrastructure and planning, companies can get ahead of such issues. 

Taking the time to create and invest in cyber security can and will end up saving a company millions. Whether it’s in dollars, time or even their reputation. Taking a proactive step into the realm of cyber security is the right move to prevent employee sabotage. 

 

By Taylor Ritchey