The Human Factor in Information Security: Why Your Employees Matter

Team SafeBase
July 11, 2023
Security training is essential for improving security awareness and reducing the risk of human error - SafeBase

Information security is a concern for organizations of all sizes. Malicious actors who steal data and gain unauthorized access to your system can seriously impede your operations.

Technology is the first line of defense, but the human factor, or the role that people play in information security, should not be overlooked.The human factor encompasses everything from negligence and lack of security awareness to falling prey to social engineering tactics employed by scammers. 

In this blog, we will explore the human factors that can contribute to information insecurity and shared strategies for mitigating these risks. 

Why the Human Factor Matters in Information Security

The most robust protocols in information security can be rendered ineffective by untrained employees. Actions such as clicking on a phishing link or downloading unverified software might provide leverage for cybercriminals.

Another major vulnerability lies in social engineering. Humans are predictable, and their natural tendencies can be exploited to suit malicious causes. Cybercriminals may attempt to access confidential data by exploiting human psychology and manipulating people into giving up their passwords or other sensitive information.

40% of millennials report accessing work files on home devices, and 16% accept social connections from strangers "most of the time." These negligent behaviors can create significant security problems for companies that have not provided the appropriate level of training.

For example, a phishing email could appear to come from a trusted friend. An unsuspecting employee might try to download the attached file, not realizing that they just provided hackers with access to their system. If they do work on their home computer, this threat could sabotage your organization even when employees are off the clock.

The best way to ensure secure networks is to combine technological and human protections. Effective training and education can prevent employees from unknowingly introducing malicious threats into the system.

Best Practices for Improving Security Awareness

Security training should be thorough and ongoing. As employees become familiar with the company’s policies, they will be more likely to abide by them.

The primary goals of security awareness training should be:

  • To educate employees about security protocols and best practices.
  • To empower people to identify potential cyber threats and respond quickly.
  • To create a culture of responsibility in the workplace, with everyone held accountable for their actions.

To cultivate this sense of responsibility, you need a strong IT program bolstered by policies and procedures that are easy to understand. Ensure all employees have access to these materials through printed documents or online systems.

Training can take many forms, from brief seminars to interactive workshops and simulations. The key is to facilitate direct dialogue between staff and IT professionals. Additional tips include:

  • Incorporate cyber education into new hire orientation and regular training sessions.
  • Reward employees who follow procedures and report suspicious activity.
  • Test employees’ readiness.

Regular audits keep your security program healthy. Schedule periodic assessments to identify possible issues and ensure the organization meets its security objectives. The assessment looks at your networks, systems, and personnel for potential risks. 

Practical Tips for Reducing the Risk of Cyber-Attacks

The most reliable way to strengthen your IT program is to utilize strong passwords and two-factor authentication. Passwords should be complex, unique, and often changed. Remember to emphasize this point- 85% of Millennials admit to using the same password across sites.

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to enter a code sent via text or email in addition to their password.

Also, teach employees about the most common cyber-attack types, such as phishing and ransomware. Train your staff to recognize suspicious emails and links, and advise them never to download or open attachments from unfamiliar senders. If you work with highly sensitive data, it may be advisable to ban opening attachments completely.

After you train them, encourage employees to report all suspicious activity, no matter how minor. Every strange email should be investigated.

Ultimately, you can minimize the risk of human error by tightening your security controls and maintaining clear, consistent policies. Organizations must invest in their employees and create an environment that emphasizes security.

Practicing What We Preach

At SafeBase, we assign quarterly security awareness trainings for every employee, from the C-Suite to Sales to Customer Success. These training sessions are crucial in establishing an internal security culture. In addition, we maintain an open line of communication between our security team and the rest of the company, encouraging team members to report suspicious messages and raise concerns immediately and without judgment. 


Organizations of every size are vulnerable to malicious cyber-attacks, and human error compounds this risk. Safeguarding sensitive data requires an investment in comprehensive employee training programs demonstrating the importance of safe browsing habits, strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and clear communication with IT.

Preparing for the human factor in IT security is an effective way to shield your organization from sloppy or uninformed mistakes. With the right strategy, you can equip employees with the necessary tools to recognize and prevent potential threats.  

Making security education a high priority will significantly reduce risk and help keep your organization safe.

Contact SafeBase today to schedule a demo and see how ourTrust Center can provide a centralized source of truth for your company’s critical security and compliance information.

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