Who is To Blame for Data Loss: Human Error or Redundant Processes?

Close behind the heels of a study released on password protection that seeks to strengthen document security while easing processes for humans, it is becoming more evident that human error is playing a serious role in password security.

Security failings in organisations ranging from making a note of passwords and leaving them unattended to opening up malware on emails are squarely blamed on humans. In spite of crucial investment in document protection technologies and resources dedicated to planning data security systems, an increasing number of studies reveal that human beings are often the greatest vulnerability in the system.

For instance, data breaches in the hospitality sector are becoming extremely common due to redundant security solutions in addition to human error. Cyber criminals are persistently hacking into areas such as the hospitality sector by taking advantage of outdated security processes. A reputed hotel chain suffered a massive breach when their payment systems were exposed across the United States and the Caribbean islands. With credit card payments being compromised across their hotels, it is important for industries within the hospitality sector to rethink on how their customer information must be safeguarded.

Nonetheless, a number of these weaknesses are regarded as the inescapable consequence of a poorly designed IT security system. Studies further revealed that there are a number of constituents that cause individuals to make errors, ranging from cognitive strain to unsatisfactory interface design, and in some cases, specific systems that have been planned beyond most people’s capacities. Despite the fact that most people can only recall around seven sporadic characters, technologies call for them to remember lengthier and more complicated passwords, which inescapably results in them being noted down on locations that can easily be traced.

Organisations must be encouraged to ask questions to staff and management within the security environment. These include: do the people know what they are required to do? Can these individuals do what is being asked of them? Are these individuals going to do what they have to do?

Besides acknowledging that training is crucial to the security of data and documents within the organisation, proportionally significant is the ability of the people to perform what is being asked of them. On the whole, most organisations do not select employees or candidates based on their individual capabilities of following security protocols which, by their nature, must be implemented in such a manner so that the security measures are within the ambit of those been asked to abide by them.

It is also important that organisational culture be connected to its data security system. Are employees only expected to get work done, are they encouraged to cut corners in order to meet deadlines or is security demeanour and organisational value demonstrated hierarchically?

Every organisation must develop effective physical and cyber security systems that are efficient and easy to use. By realising that the introduction of employees, procedures and technologies are vital to the consequences of data security within an organisation, there will be a greater effort in combining advanced technology with processes that individuals can easily and voluntarily follow.

Organisational data security must provide the ability to measure employees’ security conduct, importance and outlook and discern differences between venues or groups, thus allowing better training and learning initiatives to be distributed where it can have the best results. In addition, the advantages of such interventions must also be assessed.

Even though humans will continue to stay vulnerable, this weakness can greatly be reduced with the help of an effective system approach to data security.

Organisations that have not prioritised data management are likely to struggle with gaining efficiencies across value chains and are also likely to become more susceptible to data security dangers that can have organisational, reputational and economic impacts. Privacy, security and intellectual property of data is an issue that affects every company and it is important to manage it in an integrated and holistic manner. With the right kind of data management systems, data quality can be maintained by linking processes, individuals, controls and regulations.

Data security solutions and standard operating procedures can only go so far. With technology changing rapidly and newer regulations coming to the fore, educating employees on the correct procedures with regards to data management and security is key for every organisation. In this point, communication is vital and employees must be able to grasp processes, systems, protocols, compliance and regulations connected to their jobs so they realise how data security risks can be mitigated while appropriate data security measures are implemented.

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