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The Human Element in Cybersecurity

Joanne Lennon Senior Manager, Product Marketing Published 2 Mar 2020

For almost 30 years the RSA Conference has been where cybersecurity experts gather to discuss, debate and learn from one another on how to tackle the ever-growing, ever more complex landscape of cybersecurity.

This year’s theme is the ‘Human Element’. As RSA explains:

With all the new technologies, strategies and artificial intelligence being employed by both security pros and threat actors, one thing remains constant: us. We are the Human Element within cybersecurity. That’s what joins us together. The goal of RSA Conference 2020 is to help the industry mature while preparing individuals to grow into their roles as defenders of the world. When we recognize that cybersecurity is, fundamentally, about people protecting people, the world becomes a better, more secure place.”

While RSA’s theme may be stating the obvious, with headlines focused on ransomware, malware, IoT hacks, phishing, waterholing, botnets, nation-state exploits, and more; it is easy to lose sight of the ‘human’ factor.

The Human Element

Humans are central to cybersecurity. Not only are we the target – we are the solution – and the problem.

I was reminded of this last week when Extreme published results from its network security survey of 540 IT professionals around the globe.

The survey report can be found here, however findings included:

80% of IT professionals are very/somewhat concerned about network breaches

  • There is no question cybersecurity remains top of mind for all organizations, and as indicated in the survey results, this concern extends across all industries, regions and company size. As Verizon aptly summarizes in their 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report “No organization is too large or too small to fall victim to a data breach. No industry vertical is immune to attack. Regardless of the type or amount of your organization’s data, there is someone out there who is trying to steal it.”

 7 out of 10 Organizations Have Seen Hacking Attempts via IoT within their organizations

  • While the prevalence of IoT hacking is staggering, what is even more surprising is the number of successful hacks – 25% of organizations reported successful IoT hacks.  While IoT devices may serve as the ‘means’ – the entry point for hackers onto the network – humans are the target. It is our data that is stolen; it is us who are impacted and inconvenienced by breaches.

 98% of Organizations take measures to secure their IoT devices

  • At first glance, this is an encouraging statistic. We recognize the importance of IoT security and close to 100% of organizations take measures to secure their devices. However, before we collectively congratulate ourselves on our accomplishment and being central to the cybersecurity ‘solution’, read on.

 49% state the measure they use to secure IoT is to “use the pre-set passwords the IoT devices come with”

  • Yes, you read that correctly. Close to half of all organizations rely on the pre-set IoT passwords for security.  We, mere mortals, may have the best intentions, however, too often contribute to the problem. Using pre-set passwords that IoT devices come with is not adequate security – lists of standard passwords are readily available to hackers online. Case in point – Gartner reports that it takes only 3 minutes to hack an IoT device. Fortunately, the recognition that humans are the unaware carrier/enabler/propagator of cyber-attacks is resulting in new regulations that put the onus back on the IoT devices manufacturer to bolster security. For example, the UK is planning to ban default passwords in IoT devices.

Beyond Cyber-Security

The reality is the Human Element extends beyond cybersecurity.

Last year, Extreme launched its Autonomous Enterprise vision and Extreme Elements, the building blocks for the Autonomous Network. Central to Extreme Elements is the Human Element – because getting networking right means putting people first.

In this digital era, it is easy to forget the human element. With the excitement and buzz around AI and ML technology, one may think it is all about machines – machines taking over; machines making our current workforce obsolete.

However, as highlighted in The Autonomous Enterprise: Machine-Assisted; People Driven, the reality is the opposite. It is all about people – creating superior experiences and changing outcomes for the better.

At Extreme Networks, we are committed to making networking effortless – advancing how we live, work, and share. We may push the boundaries of technology – by leveraging the powers of machine learning, artificial intelligence, analytics, and automation – however, we do so with one thing in mind – YOU.

Every product and service we design and bring to market is built with our customers in mind. How can it solve your problem? How can we deliver a better experience? It’s the reason why Extreme, for the xth consecutive year, was recognized by Gartner in their 2020 Customer Choice awards.

The one thing that remains constant is us. We are the Human Element within cybersecurity; we are the human element within networks.

Network Security in 2020

To learn more about the state of network security in 2020, register for the upcoming webinar. All attendees will receive the Top 10 Network Security Best Practices eBook.

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