95% of Data Breaches Are Caused by Human Error [IBM Study]

Data breaches have become a growing concern for organizations worldwide, with cybercriminals constantly finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in systems and steal sensitive information.

While advanced technology and sophisticated attacks are often blamed for these incidents, a 2014 IBM study revealed that human error is the leading cause of data breaches, accounting for a staggering 95% of cases.

In this article, we will discuss the role of human error in data breaches, explore six other types of breaches, and provide recommendations for mitigating the risks associated with these threats.

Human Error Causes 95% of Data Breaches

The IBM study highlights the alarming prevalence of human error in data breaches and emphasizes the importance of addressing this issue as part of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

Common examples of human error include:

  • Weak or reused passwords
  • Falling victim to phishing attacks
  • Misconfiguring security settings

Additionally, poor password management is a significant contributor to breaches caused by human error. Employees often use weak, easily guessable passwords or reuse the same password across multiple accounts, leaving their organization vulnerable to unauthorized access.

To reduce these risks, organizations can implement password managers, two-factor authentication (2FA), and strong password policies.

Phishing attacks are another leading cause of data breaches due to human error. Specifically, cybercriminals use social engineering techniques to trick employees into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links, which can lead to unauthorized access to corporate networks.

Providing ongoing security awareness training and deploying advanced email filtering technologies can help reduce the likelihood of successful phishing attacks.

Finally, misconfigurations in security settings can also leave organizations exposed to data breaches. Employees might inadvertently leave sensitive data unprotected or grant excessive access permissions, creating opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit.

Regular security audits, vulnerability assessments, and penetration testing can help identify and address these issues.

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6 Other Types of Data Breaches

Other than human error, there are six other types of data breaches to look out for:

  1. Malware: Malicious software designed to infiltrate, damage, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems. Includes viruses, worms, ransomware, and spyware.
  2. Ransomware: A type of malware that encrypts data and demands payment for its release. Often delivered through phishing emails or exploited vulnerabilities.
  3. Insider threats: Data breaches caused by employees or contractors with authorized access to sensitive information. Can be malicious or unintentional.
  4. Physical theft: Unauthorized access to sensitive data through stolen devices or hardware, such as laptops, smartphones, or USB drives.
  5. Third-party breaches: This type of breach occurs when a company’s data is compromised through a vendor or partner’s systems, often due to inadequate security measures.
  6. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks: Overwhelming a system with a flood of traffic, leading to a crash and potential data exposure.

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Human error remains the primary cause of data breaches, highlighting the need for organizations to prioritize employee training and awareness as part of their cybersecurity strategy.

Implementing robust password policies, providing ongoing security training, and monitoring your company for data breaches can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches caused by human error.

Additionally, organizations should be aware of other types of breaches and take proactive measures to protect their sensitive data and systems.

By understanding the different types of data breaches and addressing the human element, organizations can better safeguard their valuable assets and minimize the potential damage caused by cyber threats.

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