How to Avoid Overconfidence in Cybersecurity

Even though a business feeling incredibly confident in its security team may seem good, it can increase the chance of a cyberattack. Organizations should know how to avoid overconfidence in cybersecurity to protect themselves.

Signs of Overconfidence in Cybersecurity

Although most businesses feel their cybersecurity teams can respond to any threat, they may just be overconfident.

There are a few signs of overconfidence in cybersecurity:

  • Security strength assumptions: Many businesses feel they’re too small or in a “safe” industry, so they don’t have to worry about hacks or breaches. In reality, hackers target organizations of every size and type.
  • Overreliance: Depending on a single system or tool can put a company at risk. For instance, teams may rely on a firewall or put too much trust in the cloud.
  • Basic security noncompliance: Some might feel they don’t need to follow essential safety protocols if they have secure systems. Neglecting the basics puts unnecessary pressure on security tools and strategies.
  • Lack of specific plans: A lack of response plans to various cybersecurity threats is a clear sign of overconfidence. While a general strategy is typically acceptable, overlooking specifics shows a need for more preparation.
  • Understaffing: Security leaders who think smaller teams are just as capable as larger ones open themselves to risks.
  • Lack of training: While businesses should feel confident in their cybersecurity employees’ abilities, not conducting retraining is a sign of overconfidence.
  • Security tool overabundance: Even though having many security tools seems good, an abundance may give teams a false sense of safety. The more there are, the more challenging it is to properly manage each one.

Relying on tools, understaffing and noncompliance with best practices are signs of overconfidence. Businesses that assume they’re secure without proof of their claims open themselves to security threats.

Risks of Overconfidence

Although 87% of chief financial officers feel incredibly confident in their organization’s ability to respond to cyberattacks, only 40% regularly meet with their cybersecurity teams. Overconfidence essentially makes companies more vulnerable. It may not appropriately prepare for security threats, increasing the chance of attacks and breaches. Ultimately, it risks system infiltration by malware. Legal issues may also arise if hackers compromise personally identifiable or sensitive customer information.

Organizations of every size can feel the effects of overconfidence in cybersecurity. Still, although 87% of small businesses have sensitive customer data that a breach could compromise, only 14% are prepared to respond to cyberattacks.

Globally, a data breach costs $4.35 million on average. The amount more than doubles in the United States at $9.44 million. Paying to control it and handle the fallout is expensive. The cost of trusting a team or security tools too much can be high.

Tips to Avoid Cybersecurity Overconfidence

Limiting the amount of overconfidence in cybersecurity and reducing its risks is the solution.

1.   Add Extra Layers of Security

Cybersecurity teams can add extra layers of security to lower the chance of overconfidence affecting them. For example, multifactor authentication makes breaching systems significantly more complicated for hackers because it requires multiple independent credentials. Businesses could use a code sent to employees’ phones, physical tokens or biometrics to authenticate their identity and allow access. Each type has unique benefits.

2.   Assume Hackers Are Always Adapting

A business should assume that hackers are always adapting and respond appropriately. Typically, their approaches are constantly changing. It’s more a matter of “when” and not “if” they’ll attempt an attack. They will try new techniques until they find something that works, so security teams should expect and prepare for that situation. Instead of simply checking the box, they should vary their methods.

3.   Train and Retrain

Human error is responsible for around 95% of issues in cybersecurity. Security teams and general employees should routinely train on basic safety measures. In addition, meeting to discuss relevant cybersecurity events in similar industries may help establish the importance of compliance.

4.   Add More Cybersecurity Staff

Even though 82% of security leaders admit they could’ve mitigated the damage from cybersecurity incidents, around 80% are unsure their team can respond to future attacks. They know what the solution is but need more help to accomplish it. Although confidence in a small cybersecurity team seems positive, it may open a business up to threats.

Understaffing can lead to large workloads, meaning things slip through the cracks. Excess duties can cause cybersecurity fatigue in employees. For example, a team may miss critical insight into attempted attacks because they received too many automated logs to review. Additional staff could act as essential support.

5.   Diversify Security

Many businesses rely on particular systems or tools. Trusting in one thing to protect an entire organization is risky. For instance, 99% of firewall breaches occurred because of misconfigurations. Something as minor as leaving access to a management portal open could invite hackers in if there are no other safety measures.

Diversifying security and using multiple tools is a much better option. For example, each department could have its own network, or sensitive information storage access could require separate authentication. Even if something is compromised, it can protect other things from damage.

6.   Routinely Test Security

Even if an organization has incredibly strong cybersecurity measures, routine testing is smart — no system is 100% secure. Many put it off because it often requires downtime. Although shutting things down temporarily can technically cost money, it’s typically much more affordable than a data breach.

Security teams can conduct penetration testing or automatically check for vulnerabilities. Tools that scan for and report suspicious network activity can save them time. Ensuring everything is secure is much better than assuming so.

Protect Against Overconfidence

Overconfidence in cybersecurity may cause teams to be unprepared for cyberattacks, leading to malware or expensive data breaches. Organizations can protect themselves by adding extra security, continuously testing their systems and training additional staff.