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'Malicious insiders' are biggest cyber threat, poll finds

Malicious employees pose the biggest cybersecurity threat in

Malicious employees pose the biggest cybersecurity threat in the workplace, a new poll says. Photo Credit: Getty Images/imaginima

Malicious employees and those with few technical skills pose the greatest threat of a cyberattack in the workplace, according to a survey of employers nationwide released Tuesday.

In the poll of more than 1,000 information technology executives, 30 percent identified “malicious insiders” as the top cyber threat source. Twenty-five percent cited human error caused by workers’ unfamiliarity with technology.

The executives all work at businesses and government agencies that “experienced a cyber threat in the past year,” according to Canon U.S.A. Inc. in Melville, which paid for the survey.

Canon manufactures and sells photocopiers and other office equipment. It has been working with software provider McAfee to install cybersecurity protections in Canon machines.

"Our intent with this survey is to help organizations improve their cybersecurity agendas by clearly identifying what is working well, what is not, and providing relevant solutions," Shinichi Yoshida, general manager of Canon U.S.A., said on Tuesday. "We continue to prioritize cybersecurity across our [product] portfolio to offer not only added protection but also peace of mind for our customers."

In the poll, more than one-third of IT executives said malware and ransomware are the top threats to workplaces.

The executives said most workers are unaware of cybersecurity. One in four said employees have “limited or no understanding of threats or prevention,” the poll states.

Asked what’s the largest barrier to implementing cybersecurity protections, 33 percent of executives said the technological competency of rank-and-file workers.

The survey comes as credit card issuer Capital One and financial information company Equifax are grappling with security breaches that have compromised customers’ personal information.

In the poll, nine in 10 IT executives said a data breach equates to losing up to half of their employer’s annual revenue. Nearly half of the executives said spending on cybersecurity is less than 5 percent of their employer’s IT budget.

The survey of 1,015 IT executives at U.S. companies and government agencies was conducted online in April by ABI Research in Oyster Bay village.

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