What’s the biggest threat in cybersecurity today? While major breaches like OPM, Sony or Ashley Madison steal most of the headlines, these hacks are only the tip of the iceberg.

In working with some of the leading cybersecurity companies, we’re privy to the nuanced ways the industry is changing and many of the hacks that don’t get picked up by the mainstream media. One emerging storyline in cybersecurity is the role of the human element in maintaining a company’s data integrity, as employees often either intentionally or unintentionally play a role in breaches.

Just last week, Snapchat announced a data breach involving payroll information of an estimated 700 current and former employees. While you might assume a tech-savvy company like Snapchat would be hard to hack, it was actually an employee that fell prey to a spearphishing attempt.

For those of you not familiar, spearfishing is a low-tech but highly effective method that involves a person unintentionally serving as a gatekeeper to information, usually through email. In this particular case, the attacker was able to impersonate Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel and trick the unsuspecting employee. Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) found that “a campaign of just 10 e-mails yields a greater than 90 percent chance that at least one person will become the criminal’s prey.”

Snapchat is just one example of how the human element impacts cybersecurity. Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll outline tips on how to stay cyber secure.


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RH Strategic is the PR firm for a hyper-connected world, delivering integrated traditional, digital & social media strategies for technology, healthcare, and public sector markets.