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Risk

5/22/2008
10:43 AM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell
Commentary
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CompTIA Survey: What Causes Most Breaches Is The Same Thing The Road To Hell Is Paved With

Findings from a new survey indicate that most security breaches aren't the result of malicious intent. Problem is, more than a few are the result of good intentions.

Findings from a new survey indicate that most security breaches aren't the result of malicious intent. Problem is, more than a few are the result of good intentions.As twitched by the bMighty Antenna here, the survey findings from CompTIA don't deny the importance and danger of deliberately launched intrusions, either external or internal. It's just that those are far from the majority of breach causes.

In fact, the survey found, only a quarter of breaches come directly from the bad guys. The rest are the result of your staff either inadvertently (or ignorantly) letting the bad stuff into your network or your business, or from technical errors in the system itself.

It's those human errors -- whether by accident or ignorance -- that should give small and midsize businesses large concerns. Because those errors are both the most and least avoidable we face -- and all because of good intentions and our (meaning humans', not just business's) typical relationship to them.

Take a look at the findings in this survey of consumer online banking habits: nearly 90 percent of those surveyed understand that security is their responsibility as well as their banks; yet nearly half admit to sloppy security practices themselves.

Which doesn't stop the respondents from a willingness to blame their financial institution should their accounts be compromised.

And therein lies the dilemma we're all wrestling with -- everyone "knows" what the bank survey respondents admit: good security practices, strong passwords frequently changed, etc. are essential to every aspect of online business and behavior. Yet the gap between knowing and practicing continues to plague us.

According to the CompTIA survey, a quarter of those human errors are caused by lack of security knowledge, but 45 percent of them are the result of failures to follow established security procedure.

The percentage of "don't knows" is too high -- and inexcusable.

But it's that later percentage that marks the real beginning of the road to breach-hell: businesses with security systems, procedures and (one hopes) policies in place -- good intentions all! -- still have to cope with employees who know better, but don't practice what they know.

Just as inexcusable as not making sure your employees are up-to-speed in security knowledge and training, but a lot harder to deal with.

Which doesn't mean we shouldn't, all of us, try harder -- a willingness to make that extra security effort is, after all, the best of intentions.

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