Firewall Security: Strengthening the Weakest Link in Cybersecurity

Monday, October 2nd, 2023


Cyber security risk management solutions from DefenseStorm.

Innovations in technology and security are top of mind for banks and credit unions, and when it comes to firewall security, it is critical to strengthen the weakest link in your cybersecurity efforts. As cyber risks evolve, institutions of all asset sizes must prioritize and invest in strengthening cybersecurity efforts.

Innovative technology has revolutionized the way we work and live by unlocking a wealth of new capabilities. As artificial intelligence makes daily operations more efficient and flexible, people become increasingly reliant on the luxury of digital technology. Of course, businesses then competitively introduce the latest and greatest to meet the demands. With new technology and changed business operations comes exposure to new cyber risks and vulnerabilities, prompting companies to prioritize and invest in stronger cybersecurity measures.

Ominous headlines touting 2023 as the “Year of Risk,” have organizations scrambling to increase their cybersecurity budget and buy the latest threat detection technology. The technology and supportive resources to prevent threats from becoming attacks are important, but what if I told you that while you have the newest, state-of-the-art technology safeguarding your systems, your employees are your biggest vulnerability? Even the most technologically savvy employees are a liability. Just ask NASA about the Mars climate orbiter…a simple human mistake in measurement conversion by scientists led to a navigation error, sending the climate orbiter to its demise, burning up in the Martian atmosphere. The result? A loss of nearly 200 million dollars and red faces all around. The reality: Despite having the most effective cybersecurity measures implemented, a simple human error can lead to significant financial losses, interruptions in business operations, and harm to the organization’s reputation.

Firewall Security: The Weakest Link

Companies become confident and ready to take on the threat of cyberattacks after implementing the newest and most advanced solutions in cyber risk management. Most businesses eagerly invest in the best security products, hire external monitoring support for their internal teams, and implement proactive strategies for preventing and mitigating cyberattacks. Despite following the recommendations for improving cyber risk readiness, the Thales 2022 Data Threat Report revealed, “Human error is seen as the highest threat to organizational security, with 38% of organizations ranking it as the top threat.”

Understanding cyber risk awareness is just as vital to the maturity of your program as having the right products in your cyber security program or implementing a proactive plan. Integrating all these essential components is what makes your company fully prepared to tackle cyber threats, but recognizing the importance of security awareness is also crucial to prevent costly errors.

The WHY and HOW

Understanding how employees can inadvertently cause a hole in your security is vital to protect your business. Mistakes are made at ALL levels and across ALL departments due to insufficient cyber risk awareness training, distraction, burnout, or even complacency. Some of the worst breaches occur from a simple lack of knowledge.

Ask yourself: Do your employees casually open emails on their phones, oblivious to the telltale signs of a phish? Are they click happy just clicking links and downloading files without regard for the source? Do they reuse the same password across multiple accounts? Is their professional device automatically connecting to an unsecured Wifi? More importantly, do they even realize that these actions make them vulnerable?

Another major obstacle in maintaining cybersecurity awareness is the issue of distraction. With employees constantly busy and multitasking, opening messages while on the move, are we truly focused on the potential risks at hand? Consider this scenario: You’re about to log out to make an important appointment when you get an email labeled – high priority. It’s from the Human Resources Director with the subject line HR Investigation: Notification of Formal Complaint. Already running late, you immediately open it and barely read through the message before downloading the file. Hacked. It was a phish. You were distracted, and it hindered your ability to notice the red flags: (1) The sender with a familiar name but from an unknown domain (2) Major spelling and grammatical errors (3) Incorrect company signature line. It happens, but how can this costly mistake be prevented from occurring over and over again?

Cyber Risk Awareness

Whether caused by distraction or lack of awareness, the consequences of a breach are still the same – compromised data, interruption of service, monetary loss, and a tarnished reputation. Strengthening cyber risk awareness is important for all employees to prevent these simple but egregious mistakes. Keeping employees trained, aware, and motivated can be done by employing these best practices:

  1. Integrate cyber risk awareness training in the onboarding process for new hires.
  2. Provide ongoing training and workshops for all employees to identify potentially harmful links and emails. Educate employees on creating strong passwords, handling sensitive information, and responsible technology use. Simulated phishing exercises are an effective method to practice spotting potential threats.
  3. Use internal cyber awareness campaigns to keep cybersecurity awareness at the forefront. Regularly nurturing a security aware culture using motivational tools and incentives creates an opportunity for positive reinforcement and an open dialogue so your employees remember to stay alert even amidst distractions. If everyone is talking about it, can they really forget?
  4. Cybersecurity awareness also includes the collection and distribution of important alerts and news. Ensure all employees are signed up for the latest cybersecurity news updates. Send out messages internally to alert employees of possible threats. DefenseStorm provides Daily Security Intel Bulletins, which is a collection of the most important cybersecurity news and alerts for the day, to all clients and employees. The bulletin promotes peer-to-peer sharing and builds a community of trust to work together against the threat of cyberattacks.

Prioritize Cybersecurity Personnel

Employees proficient in information technology and working on internal cybersecurity teams can also become a significant liability because of professional burnout, gaps in skills, and downright apathy. Organizations are facing significant burnout because the constant influx of cyber events necessitates a level of scrutiny that cannot be managed efficiently by outdated

processes and insufficiently staffed teams. Overburdened employees are prone to making mistakes, and there is a growing concern that tasks within the internal Security Operations Center (SOC) may become redundant for certain individuals, leading to a complacent attitude that results in costly errors. To mitigate these risks, it is essential to evaluate and train the internal team to keep them alert, motivated, and prepared for emerging threats. There are several effective strategies to consider, including building a stronger internal team through training, evaluation, and collaboration. It is crucial to adopt a proactive approach to prevent employee burnout and maintain a highly effective SOC team.

Some strategies to consider:

  • Ensure that the executive team actively backs your in-house cybersecurity department.
  • Mitigate employee fatigue by harnessing AI solutions and automation. Enlist expert SOC support for comprehensive cyber risk management.
  • Minimize role burnout and boredom by rotating staff across varied responsibilities and offering on the job training and exposure to emerging technologies.
  • Facilitate collaborations between entry-level analysts and incident response experts to close the skills gap.
  • Bolster competencies using Maturity Mapping. This involves assessing your team’s proficiency and readiness through simulated drills and evaluations, which improves the ability to set clear goals and expectations.

Staying Informed and Alert

With cyber threats, emerging technology, and daily operational demands contending for priority, it’s easy to forget the pivotal role human factors play in the success or decline of a business. It’s possible for any one of your employees to make a damaging error, so while you are beefing up your cyber defenses, remember the cautionary tale of the Mars orbiter mishap and how even rocket scientists can have their “oops” moments. Don’t wait until an avoidable mistake – foster a culture of continuous cyber risk awareness, nurture your cybersecurity teams, and implement comprehensive training programs. With education and empowerment, companies can prevent mistakes, reduce the impact of human error, better safeguard their valuable assets, and maintain a strong and resilient defense in the face of the ever-evolving cyber risk landscape.


DefenseStorm experts collaborate to share valuable insights, tips, trends, and resources about cyber risk management. Information sharing is a critical component of cyber risk readiness and considered a best practice to improve cyber risk awareness. As a leader in the industry, we strive to build a community of trust by providing the most current and important information that affects your financial institution.