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Weak Human Link Still Main Enterprise Security Concern

KnowBe4 study confirms what we pretty much knew already.

Larry Loeb

February 27, 2019

3 Min Read

KnowBe4, a Florida company that claims to be "the world's largest integrated security awareness training and simulated phishing platform," wants to know what keeps enterprise security people awake with worry.

They even issued a report on it: "What Keeps You Up at Night -- The 2019 Report." It's easy to cynically dismiss this kind of report as just their market research tarted up, but releasing it to the public may actually help the security community understand what concerns other security professionals.

KnowBe4 had over 350 organizations globally participating in this year's report, across many verticals and differing size of organization.

It's not surprising that the top issues found by the report are ones that have been previously seen.

Users are the primary concern for 92% of organizations. Negligent users that become phishing attack victims tops the "up at night" list.

Data breaches seem to be a rampant problem all over the world. Ninety-five percent of organizations are worried about breach repercussions.

Attackers utilizing of compromised credentials is a common tactic. Ninety-three percent of organizations said that they are aware of the problem yet need to take steps to combat it.

GDPR compliance worries 64% of organizations even though there has been adequate time to formulate their policies. Having an adequate security budget is a concern for 75% of organizations.

Finally, security awareness training (along with phishing testing) topped the list of security initiatives 80% of respondents say that they need to implement.

The report found that most respondents are concerned about the combination of negligent or careless users and their impact on the organization when attacks like phishing or ransomware occur. Compromised credentials, breached data and access to the corporate network all topped the list of repercussions from these kinds of user responses.

Data breaches were the primary issue most organizations are concerned about, with credential compromise coming in as a close second. A layered security strategy that involves using multiple types of solutions at various parts of an attack was perceived as providing the greatest levels of organizational protection. With seven or more initiatives working, respondents did not report a concern about the 11 most common attack types.

The negligent user was the single largest concern to organizations found by the report. Since the top three open-ended concern answers of the report were users, phishing and email, this seems logical. A security culture and users sharing passwords were tied for a very close second place. Malicious insiders, while still a concern, ranked lower than that of the negligent user.

Budget was another major concern. If a lack of budget was indicated, the average responder had less than two of the 11 security initiatives in place and an elevated levels of concern about all of the areas that were covered in the report.

Lack of an "executive buy-in" was also found to be a major worry point. Fifty-nine percent said they don't have enough support. Of course, educating the C-suite as to how a lack of security can have negative business effects can help in this area.

In short, the kinds of worries the report elucidates are common to many security teams. Whatever the size of the enterprise, security continues to be a worry.

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

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About the Author(s)

Larry Loeb

Blogger, Informationweek

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet protocol. His latest book has the commercially obligatory title of Hack Proofing XML. He's been online since uucp "bang" addressing (where the world existed relative to !decvax), serving as editor of the Macintosh Exchange on BIX and the VARBusiness Exchange. His first Mac had 128 KB of memory, which was a big step up from his first 1130, which had 4 KB, as did his first 1401. You can e-mail him at [email protected].

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