Workforce risk is one of the more critical problems facing cybersecurity teams today. In fact, 82% of breaches involve the human element—people are now recognized as a primary attack vector. Strengthening cyber defense requires the ability to identify workforce risk, engage workers, and tailor safeguards to individual risk.
- Observable forms of human risk played a direct role in 61% of the largest cyber incidents of the last 5 years.
- These human risk factors racked up a price tag of $15 billion!
In this article, we’re exploring workforce risk management and how strategically analyzing the human element is the key to reinforcing cyber defense.
What is Workforce Risk?
Workforce risk refers to the potential of each worker within an organization to trigger a security breach. Not all employees are similarly risky and just a few employees cause the majority of security incidents. An analysis of over 15 million unique security events identified clear trends in internal workforce risk, including:
- 4% of workers generate 82% of phishing incidents, some clicking twice a month.
- 3% of workers generate 92% of malware events, 1% average 1 incident every other week.
- 12% of users are responsible for 71% of secure browsing incidents, 1% will trigger 200 events per week.
These statistics highlight just how much the human element plays in cyber defense.
Fortify Cyber Defense with Individualized Risk Management
Workforce risk mitigation is essential to strengthening your cyber defense. However, if you’re applying common security measures broadly, you aren’t managing risk effectively. Applying the same safeguards to every individual is a mismanagement of risk and leads to an overinvestment of security.
In a world where people are moving fast, enabling talent to be as innovative as possible is essential. But applying the same blanketed processes to all workforce users hinders productivity. Applying safeguards tailored to the individual mitigates the potential for a security breach while enabling those less at risk to perform their jobs with less friction.
This insight begs the question, what if we could bring together seemingly unrelated, readily available data to create a picture of workforce risk at an individual level? (Pictured below is a non-exhaustive example of workforce risk factors.)
How to Leverage the Human Element to Identify and Resolve Security Vulnerabilities
Using simple, pre-integrated APIs, the right risk mitigation technology will pull data from across the workforce feeding deep analytics that derive the risk level of each individual user. The image below depicts the possible data inflows and outflows this type of technology spins out:
Using the Elevate Security Platform and our unique ability to calculate user risk , we can pinpoint and help security teams understand who their risky employees are before they take action that might cause a breach. From there, customizable playbooks help security teams quickly take action on these identified risks, reducing the likelihood of an incident occurring in the first place.
Key Insight: Every incident that Elevate Security prevents saves an organization on average $650k in investigation resources, down-time, clean-up costs, and notification.
Utilizing Data Insights to Strengthen Cyber Defense
We recommend these steps to leverage risk data and insights for stronger cyber defense:
- Communicate transparently to workforce users regarding their current risk levels and ways they can lower their risk.
- Benchmark departments to identify areas of strength and areas in need of improvement.
- Engage company executives and directors with visible workforce risk metrics. This will help align the organization in its mission to strengthen cyber defense and drive accountability.
- Apply risk-tailored processes to depressurize the security operations center and protect high-risk users while maintaining organizational productivity.
The image below depicts ways you can leverage data surrounding the human element in your organization. Notice how these insights help to minimize individual risk and reduce friction.
On average, 3% of employees exhibit two or more risky behaviors likely to introduce incidents. Yet it’s this small subset of your workforce that could potentially trigger a security breach. Leveraging the right tools to analyze risk data is a critical step in identifying these risky users and putting risk-based controls in place to mitigate the risk within your organization.
Workforce risk is a critical challenge in cybersecurity that impacts the majority of security incidents. By looking at the human element from a strategic point of view and with the right tools, you can quantify workforce risk, identify the users in your organization most likely to trigger a security breach, and put protections in place for them and the organization. With Elevate Security’s risk-tailored approach, you can mitigate workforce risk and strengthen your cyber defense.
Want to see how? Book a demo of our platform and receive a quick assessment of your workforce risk.