How to Design Software to Reduce Breaches Caused by Human Error
Human error is a leading cause of data breaches, but software developers can help change that. Here are some design tips to make human error less likely.
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Humans are fallible creatures. They often make mistakes, and some of those blunders lead to data breaches. Developers should account for that by building features and capabilities into their software to make such issues less likely. Here are some of the possibilities to consider.
Implement Confirmation Dialog Boxes
One practical way to prevent human error in your software is to use dialog boxes that pop up to require a person to confirm they want to do a particular action. Then, there’s a much lower chance of someone doing something and having a crushing realization seconds later that it has dire consequences.
People take the wrong actions all the time, but most errors don’t cause data breaches. It could happen because they’re tired, overworked, bored or just not paying attention at a given moment.
However, a 2022 study found that 40% of people had emailed the wrong person over the last 12 months. In 29% of those cases, the affected company lost a client or customer as a result.
Suppose those workers had seen a dialog box come up, prompting them, “Are you sure you want to send this email to [address]?” Then, they would have to slow down, pay closer attention, and — hopefully — avoid the error.
It’s a good idea to use those confirmation dialog boxes for any actions that could cause a data breach or any other difficult- or impossible-to-correct mistake. Software often includes sharing features, but those should work to reduce human errors.
Incorporate Data Loss Prevention Elements
Many software-based tools allow people to work with critical company data. However, insider breaches can occur when people send internal information to their personal email accounts. Sometimes this happens innocently because workers want to work on projects from home. Then, the human error stems from not understanding or knowing the company’s data policy.
It’s becoming more challenging to oversee company data since so many people are part of distributed workforces and use the cloud for daily data-related tasks. Statistics anticipate 4.8% growth for cloud applications. So, there’s a good chance you’ll help develop some soon, if you haven’t already.
However, building data loss prevention (DLP) features into the software gives company leaders control over what happens to their information. One of the most common approaches is to block certain file types from leaving the organization. Alternatively, encrypting the files so only intended recipients can access them stops employees from trying to take contents not already viewable to them.
Allow Automatic Software Updates
Cybercriminals often exploit outdated software to gain initial entry into the system. However, cybersecurity fatigue can make people wait longer than they should to install new updates that include security patches for known vulnerabilities. It happens when people feel frustrated about following cybersecurity rules or believe they’re too burdensome.
When many people see software update prompts, they’ll dismiss them, telling themselves they’ll do it later. However, that approach leaves windows of opportunity open to hackers. Then, although the cybercriminals were directly responsible for the breach, human error made it easier for them to orchestrate their attack.
Creating your software with an automatic update feature prevents this possibility. Consider designing it so administrators can make the updates occur on all computers simultaneously and outside of business hours. Then, individual employees never have to worry about handling the updates.
Get Feedback From Users
Besides considering these suggestions, talk to the people who will use the software you build. Ask them about previous events that have made data breaches occur or nearly happen. Then, think about what you could do to prevent future instances. The insights you get could make you aware of new error-driven breach possibilities.
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