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Data breaches are becoming more frequent and more damaging to the bottom line of many businesses. The Target data breach marked the beginning of increased scrutiny of cybersecurity practices. In the past, data breaches were seen as a cost of doing business, but Target’s negligence and the scale of the data loss forced businesses and the courts to reevaluate current practices and regulatory frameworks. Businesses must make strategic use of their chief information officers, adopt cybersecurity best practices, and effectively train their employees to respond to growing security threats. They must also shape the cybersecurity narrative to influence regulatory responses to these threats.
6.2.4. Employees may be your weakest link
Employees are a company’s most valuable, and also most vulnerable, asset. Employees accounted for 59% of security incidents in 2014, and in U.S. companies alone, the unauthorized use of computers by employees accounted for $40 billion in losses (Experian, 2015). The central problem is that employees are not receiving the training that they need. As consumers of modern technology, employees can develop habits that expose businesses to hacking. One such habit is their use of passphrases. A 2014 study estimated that the average person must remember passwords for 25 distinct accounts and that up to 51% of users reuse the same password for multiple sites (Das, Bonneau, Caesar, Borisov, & Wang, 2014). In addition, one can access an increasing number of sites simply by signing into a social media account like Facebook or LinkedIn. A hacker who gains access to such seemingly innocuous social media accounts may use them to access other sites containing more sensitive information. Finally, people’s passwords are often easy to discover. Researchers in a 2014 study were able to guess 30% of non-identical passwords (Das et al., 2014). Hackers who do their research and run some simple analyses like the researchers in the study could access the accounts of a significant percentage of people using the Internet.