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The Human Element: Your Most Undervalued Cybersecurity Asset

Published On:
September 9, 2023
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In our last exploration into the world of cybersecurity, we delved into the psychological factors that make phishing attacks so effective. The conclusion was clear: phishing is not just a technological problem, but a deeply human one. Today, we pivot from looking at humans as the weakest link to considering them as potentially one of the greatest assets in your cybersecurity arsenal. In this follow-up, we will discuss why the human element is your most undervalued cybersecurity asset and how focusing on this can significantly improve your organization's security posture.

The Human Firewall

Despite advancements in technology and security protocols, phishing attacks remain alarmingly prevalent. The reason is simple: these attacks specifically target human vulnerabilities, exploiting our natural tendencies to trust, react urgently, or follow authority. However, the very target of these attacks—people—can also be the first and best line of defense against them.

Consider this: every time you or an employee avoids downloading malware or clicking on a fraudulent link, you've successfully thwarted a phishing attempt. While it's easy to focus on the incidents where things go wrong, it's crucial to recognize the countless times things go right thanks to human judgment. In the landscape of constant cyber threats, where everyone receives phishing emails on a weekly basis, the moments when an attack is avoided are victories for the human firewall.

These victories are not isolated incidents but a daily occurrence. For instance, at PhishFirewall, we observe continuous successful interventions by vigilant employees who spot phishing attempts and report them, thereby protecting not only themselves but the entire organization. These moments underscore the importance of the human element in cybersecurity, reminding us that while technology can aid and automate, it can't fully replace human discernment.

Investing in People Over Tech

It's a staggering statistic that over 90% of breaches and ransomware attacks originate from human error. While this number highlights the vulnerabilities inherent in our human nature, it also points to a significant opportunity. By investing in human-centric cybersecurity measures, organizations have the chance to eliminate the root cause of most cyber incidents. In other words, a well-trained, vigilant employee can stop more than 90% of potential breaches before they even occur.

This isn't just a theoretical advantage. The tangible benefits of human-centric cybersecurity are real and measurable. By reducing human errors, organizations are not just avoiding the immediate costs associated with a breach, which can average around $2.6 million, but also the long-term reputational damage, loss of customer trust, and potential legal ramifications.

The proposition is straightforward: shifting the focus from exclusively technological solutions to a more balanced approach that includes human-centric strategies can offer a higher return on investment. It’s not just about having the best firewall or the most advanced AI-driven threat detection system; it's about empowering your employees to act as a dynamic, responsive layer of security. This is a true investment in the future of your organization's cybersecurity posture.

The ROI of Empowering Employees

When it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of any cybersecurity strategy, three key metrics stand out: reducing the number of incidents, reducing the time to detection, and reducing the time to resolution. These metrics serve as the pillars for understanding the return on investment (ROI) in cybersecurity, particularly in human-centric approaches.

Firstly, reducing the number of incidents directly correlates with a decrease in operational disruptions and potential financial losses. A vigilant employee who can spot a phishing email and report it effectively becomes a human firewall, stopping a potential incident before it even starts.

Second, reducing the time to detection is crucial. The faster an organization can identify a threat, the quicker it can act to mitigate the damage. Employees trained to recognize and report attacks can significantly accelerate this process, acting as real-time sensors on the frontline.

Lastly, reducing the time to resolution means getting systems and operations back to normal as swiftly as possible. A well-informed staff can aid not just in the detection but also in the swift resolution of security incidents by following established protocols and aiding cybersecurity teams.

Now, let's talk numbers. A reduction in human error not only minimizes the risk of a breach but also translates to substantial cost savings. Considering the average cost of a breach is around $2.6 million, the ROI of investing in your employees becomes evident.

By focusing on these key metrics and the human element, organizations can not just quantify but also maximize their ROI in cybersecurity. It's an investment that pays for itself by averting costly and damaging security incidents.

Obstacles to Human-Centric Cybersecurity

Despite the clear advantages of a human-centric approach to cybersecurity, several objections and misconceptions often hinder organizations from adopting this strategy. One prevalent misconception is the skepticism that human-centric approaches are ineffective, often stemming from past experiences with generic, one-size-fits-all training programs.

Another common obstacle is the punitive culture that prevails in many organizations. Rather than fostering a learning environment, companies opt for a punitive approach, blaming and shaming employees for their mistakes. This not only demotivates staff but also reinforces a cycle of learned helplessness, making them more susceptible to future attacks.

To address these objections, let's look at the facts. Over 90% of cyber incidents, including costly breaches and ransomware attacks, stem from human error. Effective training that engages the employee, educates them, and empowers them to be the first line of defense can significantly reduce this error rate.

Moreover, a shift from punitive to proactive strategies fosters a more positive learning environment. This not only boosts morale but also creates a culture of continuous improvement and vigilance, vital for effective cybersecurity.


The cybersecurity landscape is ever-changing, but one constant remains: the human element is both the weakest link and the greatest asset. It's high time for the industry to recognize this and shift its focus from solely technological solutions to enhancing our human firewalls.

Don't wait for a breach to reconsider your cybersecurity strategy. Invest in a human-centric approach that not only educates but adapts and evolves. Become part of the solution and begin your PhishFirewall Journey today!