Employees Are Leading Cause Of Data Breaches

Although employee-related security risks are the number-one concern for security professionals, organizations are not taking adequate steps to prevent negligent employee behavior, according to a study from Experian Data Breach Resolution and Ponemon Institute. The study, Managing Insider Risk Through Training & Culture, asked more than 600 individuals at companies that currently have a data protection and privacy training program to weigh in on the topic of negligent and malicious employee behaviors, as well as the consequences of poor security conduct and the effectiveness of training.

security risksThe study found that more than half (55 percent) of companies surveyed have already experienced a security incident due to a malicious or negligent employee. However, despite investment in employee training and other efforts to reduce careless behavior in the handling of sensitive and confidential information, the majority of companies do not believe that their employees are knowledgeable about the company’s security risks.

Alarmingly, concern around the issue of employee security risks is not necessarily making companies any more effective at addressing it. Sixty percent of companies surveyed believe that their employees are not knowledgeable or have no knowledge of the company’s security risks. Additionally, the study showed a lack of concern by C-suite executives: Only 35 percent of respondents say senior management believes it is a priority that employees are knowledgeable about how data security risks affect their organization. This illustrates a clear gap between companies’ awareness of the issues caused by employee negligence and their actions.

“Among the many security issues facing companies today, the study emphasizes that the risk of a data breach caused by a simple employee mistake or act of negligence is driving many breaches. Unfortunately, companies continue to experience the consequences of employees either falling victim to cyberattacks or exposing information inadvertently,” said Michael Bruemmer, vice president, Experian Data Breach Resolution. “There are several steps that companies should take to better equip their employees with the tools they need to protect company data, including moving beyond simple employee education practices and shifting to a culture of security.”

See the infographic above for more details on the study’s findings. The full complimentary report is available online.