Human Error Leading Source of Data Breaches

There are many factors which can erode PC performance and privacy, and it’s important for users to remain vigilant to all the potential causes of compromised systems. However, it is most often users themselves that are the source of data breaches, as poor practices and a lack of awareness contribute to gaps in security through which hackers can infiltrate PCs and business networks.

Human errors and computer system glitches were behind 64 percent of all data breaches in 2012, according to a recent Ponemon Institute survey. The study, which included responses from 277 companies in nine countries, found that several subpar employee practices contributed to data breaches.

Research indicated that 62 percent of employees believed it was acceptable to transfer business information outside company networks, like to a home PC, with a majority never deleting it. The more networks that data can be found on and is transferred within, the more vulnerable it will be. Besides mishandled data, the survey also found that a dearth of system controls and direct policy violations were significant culprits of user error.

The survey found that the more regulated a business is, the higher its data breach costs. Breaches in sectors with strict security measures in place, like finance, healthcare and pharmaceutical cost 70 percent more than those in less policed industries. Extra costs in these industries stem from stopping and fixing the leak, lost data and new security measures to prevent future attacks from succeeding. The survey also reported substantial differences in cost that vary by geographic area. The countries with the highest average cost per data breach were the United States, with $5.4 million per breach, and Germany at $4.8 million. Companies in Brazil and India experienced the lowest cost per breach.

How to Protect Your PC
Not all data breaches can be attributed to user error. The survey also reported that system problems, like application failures, accidental data dumps, access control malfunctions and data recovery problems as contributors to compromised information. These issues are particularly thorny because they can rapidly affect many users or result in a security breach that goes unnoticed.

“While external attackers and their evolving methods pose a great threat to companies, the dangers associated with the insider threat can be equally destructive and insidious,” stated Ponemon Institute chairman Larry Ponemon.

There are several steps a company can take to shore up their defenses and prevent data breaches from happening. One step is to increase employee awareness of poor user practices through education and training. Organizations must eliminate user ignorance as a contributor to data leaks. Additionally, organizations should make sure to clean up computers in the office so that they’re at their most functional and up to date. Device management is an important part of shielding systems from potential complications that could stem from threatened data. Companies should take advantage of proactive security and optimization solutions like iolo’s System Mechanic Pro to improve the functionality and reliability of their networked devices.

System Mechanic Pro is an all-in-one security and PC performance solution that uses both signature-based reactive and behavior-based proactive detection strategies to build two lines of defense to stop known threats and build a general sense of whether a given file intends to harm your computer. In addition to the award-winning AV System Shield, System Mechanic Pro gives you the full suite of PC optimization tools found in System Mechanic.

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UpToSpeed™ is iolo's ongoing article series written by PC experts for everyday computer users. Each article is packed with easy tips and practical advice on the latest issues affecting computers to help you get the most out of your PC.

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Human Error Leading Source of Data Breaches