Data Privacy Day: Why You Need to Protect Your People
  • Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Everyone has an email blunder story. Whether you forgot to bcc someone or you sent a message to the wrong person, mistakes on email are common. After all, the average worker spends two fifths of their working week on email, so accidents are bound to happen.

But it could be happening in your organization more often than you think. According to our data, employees at large organizations send over 130 emails a week to the wrong person. What’s more, workers are also sending company data to unauthorized or personal email accounts nearly 200,000 times a year. In SMBs, we found that employees send as many as 177 emails a year to the wrong person.

Tessian Data (2020)

Our data highlights how much of a risk employees pose to an organization’s data security.

Misdirected emails – emails accidentally sent to the wrong person – are particularly dangerous. Beyond just embarrassment over cc’ing the wrong person, for example, we are seeing serious repercussions as more people expose personal and corporate data. Simply misspelling a name can result in sensitive data or company secrets falling into the wrong hands and your company facing a regulator’s wrath.

More than a simple mistake

In fact, latest figures from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) reveal that emails being sent to the wrong person were the leading cause of online data breaches during 2019. UK organizations reported 1,357 data breaches caused by people emailing the incorrect recipient last year, up from 447 in 2017. That’s a 300% increase in misdirected emails over two years.

Leading causes for online data security incidents reported to ICO (2019)

Last year, the ICO made it clear that failure to implement appropriate organizational and technical measurements to protect data under GDPR will result in significant penalties. With so much at stake, businesses need to consider whether their company data is properly protected from incidents of human error.

And Data Protection Day (EU) / Data Privacy Day (US) on 28 January acts as a timely reminder to do this.

To keep data safe, businesses need to start at the human level and protect their people. Human error is the leading cause of data breaches, and this is because people make mistakes, break the rules and are easily hacked. In many cases, people may not even realize they’re doing anything wrong.

Businesses, therefore, need to take a people-centric approach to cybersecurity that focuses on educating and protecting their employees. But in addition to policies and training, organizations also need to add an extra layer of security.

Securing the human layer

Human Layer Security (HLS) is technology that secures all human-digital interactions in the workplace. By focusing on the human layer (employees, suppliers, customers) as opposed to the machine and systems layer (networks, devices, apps), HLS keeps business’ sensitive data and systems safe.

Tessian’s Human Layer Security technology understands human behavior and relationships, enabling it to detect and prevent dangerous activity. Importantly, Tessian’s technology learns and adapts to how people work without getting in the way or impeding productivity.

Tessian uses stateful machine learning models to analyze historical email data in order to understand human relationships and communication patterns. Once we know what normal and abnormal look like, Tessian can automatically predict and prevent security breaches caused by people, for example, accidentally sending emails to the wrong person or exfiltrating sensitive data to personal accounts.

Given the huge volumes of sensitive data exchanged every day, the consequences of just one of these emails ending up in the wrong hands are extremely damaging. Not to mention the serious financial penalties of personal data breaches. It’s time to protect your people with Human Layer Security.

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