Employees frequently responsible for malware nightmares, study suggests

Multi-millionaire and small-business entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis' formula for a high-functioning business is a combination of people, process and product. The individuals who comprise an organization might very well be linchpin that enable it to thrive, which is why any continuity planning solution must always be mindful of its members.

At the same time, though, these same people can be responsible for a company's misfortunes, as employees frequently – though often times unwittingly – allow crippling viruses to tarnish networks and compromise highly sensitive data.

Do workers have too much access?
Computer viruses come in a variety of forms, including phishing and malware, just to name two. It's the latter type that are on an exponential rise, according to the FBI. In a recent survey conducted by software technologies firm Varonis, employee negligence is one of the leading reasons for why breaches happen, two times more likely than other common causes, chief among them external threats. Many of these security breakdowns stem from employees mistakenly downloading or opening links that were corrupted.

The poll queried over 3,000 employees in the United States and Western Europe, including Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Included among the participants were IT experts who specialized in data privacy.

Larry Ponemon, founder and chairman of the eponymously named Ponemon Institute, indicated that business owners all too often sacrifice security for convenience, providing an inadvisably large number of employees with privileges that can lead to innocent mistakes, or worse, actions that were premeditated.  

"This survey raises key points as to why hackers are able to maximize impact – too many employees have too much access, beyond what they need to do their jobs," Ponemon explained. "On top of this, when employees access valuable data and their activity is not tracked or audited, it becomes far too easy for an external hacker or a rogue insider to get away unnoticed."

There are a number of ways that malware can infest networks. Several studies have found that among the most common entry points for damaging breaches is via email, but the Varonis poll revealed only 1 in 4 organizations monitor incoming and outgoing electronic correspondences, whether employees or third-parties.  

Firewalls are often unable to block malware from causing chaos. Firewalls, which are typically highly effective security checkpoints, are often unable to block malware from causing chaos.

FBI has warned about malware's rapid rise
Malware has garnered the attention of law enforcement officials. Earlier this year, the FBI revealed that these attacks have resulted in more than $200 million in losses for businesses and consumers through the first quarter of 2016, according to CNN. Yet despite this reality, less than 33 percent of information security professionals in a recent Tripwire survey said that their companies would be able to recover after an attack.

Talk to any internet security expert and they'll tell you that these kinds of breaches are impossible to stop entirely, especially for businesses that have hundreds of employees all interacting with servers, links and downloads both during and after operating hours. But recovery is possible. The experts and Continuity Centers have custom-built work environments that employees can use when locked out of a network. Continuity Centers also offers a recovery program that's aptly named Instant Business Recovery. In minutes – not hours – frameworks that were once offline are back online. IBC services are available wherever data is maintained – be it on site or in the cloud.