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The Human Error Factor in Data Breaches

June 14, 2023
Written by
Anushika Babu


The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2022 sheds light on the critical challenges our world faces in terms of cybersecurity and data breaches. One startling statistic captured in the report demands our attention: 

A staggering 95% of data breaches were caused by human error.

This finding underscores the urgent need to address human factors and improve cybersecurity awareness and training. In this blog post, we will delve into the implications of this statistic and explore ways to mitigate the risks associated with human errors in data security.

Root Causes: 

Human errors can manifest in various forms, including:

 1. Weak or reused passwords: Individuals often use easily guessable passwords or reuse them across multiple accounts, increasing the vulnerability of sensitive data.

 2. Phishing and social engineering attacks: Employees falling prey to phishing emails or manipulation tactics unknowingly grant access to hackers, compromising data integrity.

3. Misconfiguration of security settings: Inadequate security configurations, such as misconfigured cloud storage or improperly set permissions, can expose sensitive information to unauthorized access.

 4. Unintentional data exposure: Employees inadvertently sharing sensitive data through misaddressed emails, accidental uploads, or improper data handling.



Human error-induced data breaches can have severe ramifications, including:

   - Financial loss: Organizations may face substantial financial consequences, such as legal penalties, customer compensation, and reputational damage, resulting in diminished trust.

   - Regulatory non-compliance: Failure to protect data in accordance with applicable regulations can lead to significant fines and legal repercussions.

   - Operational disruptions: Data breaches can disrupt business operations, leading to downtime, loss of productivity, and impaired customer service.

   - Intellectual property theft: Human errors can facilitate intellectual property theft, jeopardizing competitive advantage and innovation.

Addressing the Human Error Challenge:

1. Comprehensive Training and Education:

   - Promote cybersecurity awareness programs: Implement regular training sessions to educate employees about best practices, threat awareness, and the consequences of their actions.

   - Phishing simulation exercises: Conduct simulated phishing attacks to enhance employees' ability to identify and report suspicious emails accurately.

   - Password hygiene guidelines: Educate individuals about strong password creation, use of password managers, and the importance of not reusing passwords.

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2. Robust Policies and Procedures:

   - Implement strict data handling protocols: Define clear procedures for handling and sharing sensitive data, emphasizing the need for encryption and secure communication channels.

   - Access controls and permissions: Implement granular access controls and least privilege principles to ensure that employees can only access the information necessary for their roles.

   - Multi-factor authentication (MFA): Enforce the use of MFA to add an extra layer of security when accessing sensitive systems or data.

3. Technology Solutions:

   - Data loss prevention (DLP) tools: Deploy DLP solutions to monitor and prevent accidental or intentional data leaks, providing real-time alerts and enforcing data protection policies.

   - Endpoint protection: Utilize advanced endpoint security solutions to detect and prevent data breaches arising from compromised devices or malicious software.


Human error poses a significant risk to data security, as highlighted by the Global Risks Report 2022's statistic that 95% of data breaches result from such errors. By adopting a holistic approach that combines training, robust policies, and advanced technology solutions, organizations can mitigate these risks and enhance their overall cybersecurity posture. It is imperative to prioritize cybersecurity awareness, empower employees with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions, and build a culture of security consciousness to safeguard sensitive data in an increasingly digital world.

Source for article
Anushika Babu

Anushika Babu

Marketer, Designer and Mom. Her coffee is never hot enough.

Anushika Babu


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