Published Jan 19, 2022

Why Employees Are Your Biggest Liability When It Comes to Building a Reliable InfoSec Posture

Employees are becoming a major liability to their company when it comes to insecure sharing activities and improper InfoSec practices. Without a comprehensive, autonomous solution like Cognni this can leave companies exposed to unwanted cyber threats and vulnerabilities.

In the current information security landscape SecOps and InfoSec teams are scrambling to build stronger and more comprehensive security postures as they face an overload of new security threats. Unfortunately, InfoSec tools rely heavily on employees for input, making the system users both essential assets, and a company’s greatest security liability.  

Most companies can’t afford the consequences of employee-related InfoSec mishaps: unwanted information exposure, reputational damage, or data privacy litigation.  

      • The following four points illustrate how users are actually causing damage to your company’s information protection posture, and then we’ll look at a tool to overcome this.   

1. Employees have insufficient InfoSec training

Employee InfoSec training and awareness building are valued as a vital component of company security protocol. However, facilitating training, resources, and personnel to oversee the process has a high price. As a result, most companies are unable to provide comprehensive training for all employees and fail to implement cyber hygieneThis cycle puts the onus of InfoSec on employees with minimal know-how and makes it almost impossible to build a strong security posture.  

2. They mislabel files

One of the more popular ways of securing critical information is via DLP (Data Loss Prevention) programs. This means that company employees are tasked with labeling and determining their own files’ sensitivity levels. With users involved, it’s easy for files with critical information to be mislabeledmishandled, or more commonly, not even labeled at all. Reliance on employees to label and classify a company’s most critical information raises the stakes for unwanted information exposures and faulty InfoSec policy configuration.  

3. Pure negligence

Today, insider threat incidents pose one of the greatest risks to a company’s critical information assets and can result in millions of dollars in damages. Without proper monitoring and alert systems in place, a company’s critical information can be accidentally or maliciously exposed to the wrong parties. 

In fact, in 2020 the majority of insider threat incidents¹ (62%) were a result of employee negligence. Routinely monitoring and investigating user behaviors and sharing activities is an ideal way to counter this. However, most companies don’t have the time or resources to deal with the volume of information sharing that needs to be monitored.  

An employee slips sealed board meeting minutes into his bag to review later at home, but his actions are negligent and put his company's critical information assets at risk.

4. Employees can jeopardize compliance

Today data privacy regulations (and their financial repercussions) are taken very seriously. When companies put their users in charge of managing critical customer and employee information, compliance and privacy adherence can be easily jeopardizedCompanies would likely find it easier to remain compliant with evolving data privacy laws if the burden of managing regulation requirements was shifted away from general employees and given solely to InfoSec and SecOps teams.  

How to keep users from affecting your InfoSec policies

Given human limitations and these associated risks, companies need to consider shifting away from user-based InfoSec practices altogether. Cognni’s autonomous intelligence solutions are specifically designed with this in mind, requiring no user involvement when it comes to installation, mapping, classification, or risk assessment.  

Cognni acts as a stealth security tool so that only InfoSec team members are aware of its installation. The team can then easily adjust company InfoSec posture based on Cognni’s risk assessment findings and forensic investigation insights without retraining or interrupting user processes.  

Investing in a tool like Cognni, which autonomously monitors critical information and how it flows, can save companies countless hours of work as well as unnecessary (and often incorrect) work by employees. Adopting an autonomous InfoSec model not only enhances company security but improves workflows overall and sets companies up for future success! 


1) “2020 Cost of Insider Threats Global Report: Proofpoint US.” Proofpoint, Ponemon Institute, ObserveIT, IBM Security, 7 July 2021.