12 Most Common IT Security Risks in the Workplace

Organizations operate through a vast and intricate computer network. Since technology and cybercriminals can gain access to this network, businesses need to put security protections in place. 

IT professionals need to be aware of how their companies present a cybersecurity risk and put the necessary tools in place to protect company networks. They also need to set up strict security protocols to protect against these security risks. 

To best understand this, here are 12 common IT security risks present in the workplace. 

Top Cybersecurity Risks

With cybercrime affecting over 32% of organizations on average, businesses need to redirect their focus so that their security controls make an impact. 

In general, there are four themes of top cybersecurity risks that organizations should focus on:


Integrating on-prem vs. cloud networks, personnel, and operations are the main directive of most CSOs and CIOs. And some will probably want this to happen in order to get a clearer understanding of their organization’s computer security and cyber risk level. However, these networks are never clear and, even if they think they are clear, there will always be exposed hidden endpoints that are difficult to track down. 

Nonetheless, cybersecurity measures that focus on secure integration should be a key asset not just for streamlined operations but for business continuity. 

Remote Working Environments

The rise of remote work amidst the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fact that many organizations weren’t prepared for a decentralized workforce that only communicated via the internet. This drastically increased the number of unsecured endpoints and highlighted that businesses didn’t have a strong security measure in place. 

Shadow IT Vulnerabilities

Similar to remote work, shadow IT vulnerabilities are present in unknown endpoints, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and third-party endpoints. Shadow IT should be a main asset of the IT department, especially in the tracking protocols and security audits.

Poor Cybersecurity Management

Poor cybersecurity management is very broad, but it is one of the main reasons why hackers get in in the first place. That’s right—it’s not because hackers are just that good, instead, it is because systems present opportunities that hackers can take advantage of. CSOs and CIOs need cybersecurity priorities handled and this can eliminate many of the threats present or stop a security incident before it gets worse. 

Cybersecurity attacks, failures, or shutdowns can happen for a number of reasons. However, the thing that companies are most concerned with isn’t necessarily avoiding those risks (because that wouldn’t be realistic) but making sure that their business is uninterrupted by cyberattacks and security incidents. 

Unfortunately, businesses are stuck juggling the consistent presence of security threat actors attacking and managing the overload in “urgent” security measures that are seemingly present. 

Corporate Cybersecurity Risks Businesses Can Prepare For

It might be hard to “prepare for” some of these things unless you know about them. Let’s see what businesses are most impacted by:

1. Neglecting to Cover Cybersecurity Basics

Cyber attacks in the past year have revealed that cybercriminals do not need more than a dozen vulnerabilities in order to hack into organizations. And this is because fundamental cybersecurity measures are significantly lacking. 

The 2021 NTT Group Global Threat Intelligence Report reported that even the most targeted sectors (i.e., technology, finance, business and professional services, education, manufacturing, and healthcare) did not hit over a 2 in the Cybersecurity Advisory’s Maturity Scale. This means that if at 2, the sectors would be considered to have “repeatable” maturity, including basic templates or checklists, basic metrics, informal reporting, and basic functionality with only elemental capabilities. 

Unfortunately, these sectors ranged from 1.02 to 1.84, indicating that they were on average only on the “initial” scale, which means that the majority of organizations have only ad-hoc or informal processes, ad-hoc reporting of metrics, and planning underway. Far from robust security.

2. Not Understanding Corporate Cybersecurity Risks and Where They Come From

Companies fail to understand their vulnerability to an attack and the critical value that a hacker sees in their company data. 

Businesses can use metrics to protect against the most occurring security threats for the upcoming year. Here are the most common types of cyberattack vulnerabilities across all networks, from largest to smallest: crypto weaknesses (39.7%), cross-site scripting (12%), system patching related (8%), directory listing (7.1%), and exposed systems and services (3.5%).

3. No Cybersecurity Policy

Ransomware attacks are so prevalent that experts estimate that in 2021, one will occur every 11 seconds. And remote work trends due to COVID-19 reported higher numbers of phishing email attempts (those that try to download malicious software on your network)— up a whopping 600%—in just a few months. To claim ignorance against cybersecurity in the face of these numbers is simply neglectful. We know cyber attacks are coming, are increasing, and will continue to be a prevalent cyber threat. 

It is simple to prioritize cybersecurity policy. An annually updated policy will cover:

  • The identifiable risks present at your company
  • Cybersecurity governance
  • Policies, procedures, and oversight processes
  • Known company networks and information and protections in place
  • Identity and address risks related to client information and vulnerabilities in financial features
  • Define and manage third-party risks
  • Detection of unauthorized activity

A Iomart study reported that over 479 data records were stolen or lost per second in 2019, accounting for $71,823 lost per second, or $6,205,479,452 lost per day. 

Without a security policy, you can be putting your company and millions of dollars at risk. 

4. Mistaking Compliance With Cybersecurity

Compliance is not cybersecurity, but both involve protocols that your company has to follow or risk negligence, fines, and more data security vulnerabilities. 

Managers can oversee data flow through company systems using compliance monitoring software that looks at user authorization, data movement, and other security features

5. Failing to Account for Human Risks

Most cybersecurity breaches (95%) are due to human mistakes. And over 34% of businesses around the world are impacted by insider threats each year. 

Cybersecurity professionals should be worried about human-based data breaches as two out of three times, an insider threat is caused by negligence. The greatest cause for concern is privileged users who turn against your company as malicious insiders and use their privileged access to navigate throughout your network and abuse the access that they have been granted. 

A cybersecurity policy can help in this regard because it can aid in protecting sensitive data that your business keeps and support better management of potential threats. It can also help monitor for users who have gained unauthorized access in certain areas and outstanding administrative privileges.

6. Bring Your Own Device

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) can exist in both on-prem and remote work environments and these devices carry with them an infinite amount of security vulnerabilities. 

BYOD is part of shadow IT networks and presents a number of corporate security risks. Companies need to have a lockdown on the number of BYOD devices on secure corporate networks. Consider penetration testing here. 

7. Cloud Vulnerabilities

Increased reliability on the cloud is proving that the cloud comes with its own set of security vulnerabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant rise in cybercrime and phishing attacks, most likely due to the increase in remote work and insufficient security protocols around that remote work. 

Cloud vulnerabilities are linked to higher ransomware attack occurrences, and in recent years we have seen the highest payout for a ransomware request ever at $40 million made by CSA Insurance.   

8. Human Resources Restraints

Perhaps you are lacking resources, talent, and budget. These constraints can directly impact your cyber security budget and capabilities. Gartner found that responding to security issues was one of the biggest challenges that companies faced in 2020. The average security spend reached $123 billion for things like automated security checks and intelligence systems. 

Unfortunately, your cybersecurity is acting as your company’s immune system. The weaker the defenses are, then the more likely it is that your company will become “sick” with cyber attacks. 

A good approach is to set reasonable expectations towards each security issue based on the resources you have. Also, set goals here. It would be wise to get a cybersecurity policy set up and consider cybersecurity insurance. Consider investing in security monitoring software to ease the burden on personnel.

9. Not Training Staff for Security Awareness

As mentioned, a number of cybersecurity threats are due to the human factor. But, information security training can boost company security significantly

So how should you prioritize training your staff? Look at the most common file types that cyber attackers use to penetrate your system and this can help to guide you on training your employees. Provide indicators of potentially malicious emails and current trends hackers are using to infiltrate companies within your industry. 

10. No Data Recovery Plan

A data recovery plan will not only tell your organization what to do in a time of attack, but it also provides key guidance at a time when it is extremely chaotic and hard to stay focused. These plans provide a sense of guidance and also provide the touchpoints or stakeholders that can help you. 

Unfortunately, not many companies are ready to deal with these situations. It takes up to 280 days on average for companies to locate the source of a data breach, although this number of days on average will depend on the industry that you’re in. For example, retail workers often find the source faster, within 197 days. This means that your company could face up to 280 days of downtime simply looking for the source of the data breach. 

With a data recovery plan in place, you would mitigate a threat, have the ability to remain operational during the attack, and limit the amount of data loss due to the attack. 

11. No Cybersecurity Insurance

Cybersecurity insurance has the potential to protect your company during a cyber attack. Not only do they offer financial protection, like covering the loss of revenue or other income due to a cyber interruption, but they might also require your firm to provide things like a data recovery plan, security training, and so on. It doesn’t hurt to have an insurance policy to protect your cyber network. 

12. Not Staying Up to Constantly Evolving Risks

Cybersecurity threats are evolving constantly. Not only are hackers coming up with new ways to gain entry into your network, but they are seeking new tactics for ransomware, including the use of cryptocurrencies. 

Previous NTT reports have found that the top 10 external vulnerabilities accounted for nearly 52% of identified external vulnerabilities, and the top 10 internal vulnerabilities accounted for 78% of all internal vulnerabilities. These known vulnerabilities can be properly managed. These include outdated patch levels, which were the main culprit for the massive CSA Insurance breach in 2021. Something as simple as a timely patch could have blocked 78% of internal vulnerabilities. 

Your IT department needs to stay knowledgeable on the constantly evolving risks and attack vector potentials so that your company can stay prepared and so that your company can monitor vulnerabilities. 

Trust SoftActivity for Cybersecurity Protection

With the number of evolving security threats happening daily, businesses need 24/7 threat protection. Increase user and data visibility with the SoftActivity monitoring software. With this software, you no longer need to breathe down your employees’ necks. 
Instead, monitor your in-house and remote teams from the convenience of a single console. See what tasks they are working on, the applications they are running, and other tendencies through user behavior analytics (UBA).

By SoftActivity Team.

December 20th, 2021