Skip to content

Human Error Responsible for 95% of Cybersecurity Breaches – Study

Human Error Responsible for 95% of Cybersecurity Breaches
(Last Updated On: November 15, 2023)

Our content is reader-supported. We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links.


Cybersecurity measures are only as strong as the weakest link. In most cases, that weak link is the human element. Once a computer is infected, hackers can use it to launch attacks on other computers or networks. That’s why it’s important to have strong cybersecurity measures and educate people about how to stay safe online.

Cybersecurity breaches have become more sophisticated and frequent over the years. The nature of cybersecurity is such that attacks are always going to happen. All you can do is mitigate the risks and improve your vulnerabilities so that it’s harder for attackers to succeed. 

Companies turn to cybersecurity professionals trained to protect against various attacks and identify vulnerabilities. While global cybersecurity spending is about to reach $1.5 trillion by 2025, and despite companies’ best efforts, human error is still a major cause of cybersecurity breaches.

95% of all cybersecurity breaches occur due to human error, according to the World Economic Forum’s The Global Risks Report 2022. In this article, we will examine how human errors cause data breaches and offer tips on how to avoid them.

What Is Human Error in the Cybersecurity Context?

Human error refers to any action or decision made by a person that results in a cybersecurity breach. This can include anything from clicking on a malicious link to using weak passwords.

This means that most cyberattacks could be prevented if people were more careful online. Businesses can reduce human error in cybersecurity with training and awareness programs for employees. Another way is to implement cyber hygiene measures that make it harder for people to make mistakes, such as two-factor authentication.

How Does Human Error Cause Cybersecurity Breaches?

The first step to avoiding cybersecurity breaches is to understand how they happen. Human error is the root cause of almost all breaches. People are usually careless with their personal information. One might click on a phishing link in an email or download a file without checking its contents.

Moreover, users aren’t always aware of the dangers that exist online. They might think their personal information is safe if they only use legitimate websites. However, even authentic websites get hacked, and data gets stolen.

Types of Human Error That Cause Cybersecurity Breaches

Two types of human error can lead to cyberattacks: skill-based and decision-based errors.

Skill-Based Errors

These are the mistakes made due to a lack of knowledge or experience. For example, users might not know how to secure their computers properly or use weak passwords. This makes it easier for cybercriminals to gain access to their data.

Decision-Based Errors

These errors are made when someone chooses to do something they know is risky. For example, they might choose to open an attachment from an unknown sender or send sensitive information to a stranger. These errors can often be prevented by educating people about cybersecurity risks and best practices.

What Causes These Human Errors? 

Multiple factors can contribute to increasing the chances of human errors leading to cybersecurity breaches. These include but are not limited to the following.

Lack Of Awareness

One of the most common factors is a lack of awareness. When people are uninformed of the potential dangers of cyberattacks, they are more likely to make mistakes that can lead to an attack. If people are not properly trained to protect themselves from cyberattacks, they are more likely to make mistakes that could allow an attack to happen.

Cyber Fatigue

Another factor that causes human error is cyber fatigue. It’s human to make mistakes when you are tired. Users may be less likely to pay attention to details when exhausted.

Lack of SOPs

You can always reduce the chances of errors if you have SOPs in place. Without proper check-and-balance, it’s much easier to let errors go undetected until they result in a big cybersecurity breach.

All these factors can contribute to human error in cybersecurity. Identifying and taking steps to mitigate these factors can help reduce the number of cybersecurity breaches each year.

How to Protect Your Business Against Cybersecurity Breaches?

Cyberattacks have become more of a problem over time. For example, in 2012, a study found that an average of one security incident was reported for every 5,000 employees. Nowadays, this number has increased to about 1.6 incidents per 5,000 employees. 

It is also important to note that many companies don’t report incidents due to concern about how they may look to investors and other stakeholders.

You can take multiple steps to help prevent human error from damaging your company’s cybersecurity. However, if you still run into problems, you should always have a plan to alleviate the losses incurred. The following tips might help protect your business from cybersecurity breaches:

1. Create and Implement a Strong Cybersecurity Policy

One of the best ways to prevent human error in your business is to implement a solid cybersecurity policy for your business’s sensitive information. This policy should educate employees on the importance of cybersecurity and what they can do to help protect the company’s data.

2. Automate Tasks Associated with Cybersecurity

Another way to prevent human error is to use security technologies that can help automate some of the tasks associated with cybersecurity. For example, you can use intrusion detection systems to help identify potential threats and then take steps to mitigate those threats.

3. Plan to Deal with Human Error

It’s important to have a plan in place for how to deal with human error if it does occur. This plan should include steps for how to quickly identify and fix the problem, as well as steps for how to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Key Takeaways  

Human error is the root cause of a significant percentage of all cybersecurity breaches. Businesses are powered by humans and humans make mistakes. 

While it is impossible to eliminate human error, organizations must take steps to reduce the likelihood of cybersecurity breaches and mitigate losses in case they do happen. 

This includes educating employees about cybersecurity risks and implementing best practices to avoid them. Finally, organizations should have robust security systems that can detect and block attempts to access sensitive data. 

About the author

Dr. Gabriel O'Neill, Esq., a distinguished legal scholar with a business law degree and a Doctor of Juridical Science, is a leading expert in business registration and diverse business departments. Renowned for his academic excellence and practical insights, Dr. O'Neill guides businesses through legal complexities, offering invaluable expertise in compliance, corporate governance, and registration processes.

As an accomplished author, his forthcoming book is anticipated to be a comprehensive guide for navigating the dynamic intersection of law and business, providing clarity and practical wisdom for entrepreneurs and legal professionals alike. With a commitment to legal excellence, Dr. Gabriel O'Neill, Esq., is a trusted authority dedicated to empowering businesses within the ever-evolving legal landscape.