• May 14, 2024
  • Catagory IT management

Human Factors Threaten SMB Cybersecurity Efforts

By : Sanjeev Spolia

Small and medium-sized businesses may be spending more on cybersecurity, but human factors still pose a significant threat.

A recent survey by password manager provider LastPass found that although SMBs have become proactive with security investments, a survey of more than 600 business and IT security leaders from companies with fewer than 3,000 employees found that human factors continue to make them vulnerable to attacks by cybercriminals.

The LastPass survey found there was a gap between how SMB leaders were tackling cybersecurity and employee behaviours.

The good news is that SMB executives have increased their attention and investment when it comes to cybersecurity. The LastPass survey found that 90% of IT leaders and 80% of non-IT leaders reported an increased focus on cybersecurity measures over the past year, with 82% of businesses boosting their cybersecurity budgets.

The bad news is there’s a disconnect between executives and their employees. Most executives and IT leaders said they feel confident about their cybersecurity measures, with only 30% of leaders believing their company faces a high risk of cybersecurity threats.

However, among the rank and file, only 78% of non-IT leaders believe employees understand the security expectations of their jobs, the survey found. More troublesome is that 1 out of 5 non-IT leaders admits to circumventing security policies, while 1 in 10 IT security leaders admits to circumventing security policies.

The LastPass survey suggests that despite increased investment in cybersecurity, their efforts are being undone by employee behavior. To get the most from their security budget, SMBs need to be mindful of the human factors that make the organization more vulnerable to an attack and subsequent data breach.

Small steps go a long way, and LastPass makes five key recommendations to encourage employee behavior that mitigates human factors that might put the organization at increased risk:

Ramp up cybersecurity education: SMBs should develop clear communication strategies and regular training sessions for all employees so they understand their role in maintaining robust cybersecurity, and every part of the organization must understand and commit to security policies.

Create incentives: SMBs should have stronger incentives for security compliance, balanced by stricter consequences for violations as well as policies for when it’s acceptable to bypass security measures to get work done. A culture of for reporting violations must also be fostered.

Embrace threat intelligence: SMB leaders must be able to identify and protect valuable and critical business information and know where the threats are coming from by investing in a threat intelligence-led security program.

Mandate password managers: Password management requires critical attention, according to the survey, so password managers combined with continuous education on password security are essential.

Brace for AI threats: Phishing attacks, cloud vulnerabilities, and the potential for business data loss due to ransomware attacks or malware are getting help from AI, so it’s important to fight fire with fire and adopt AI-driven security tools that provide advanced threat detection and response capabilities.

Cybersecurity is a continuum, and SMBs can’t be complacent even with increased investment. Human factors must be continually addressed through education, policy, and technology adoption.