Human factor in data security: Stressed Sandra

Human factor in data security: Stressed Sandra

An accident is just around the corner – we all make mistakes. One might be a little more sensitive to this than the other. Mistakes make us human and these do not always have a detrimental impact. That is, until it concerns data security, because then, it becomes a completely different issue.

In this “Meet the team”-series, you will meet the employees whom are at a higher risk of making a human error and in turn pose a threat to your data security. The previous weeks, we highlighted Busy Boris: the employee who always stays busy working, therefore more likely to make a mistake and Tired Thomas, the employee who lacks sleep.


Today, we introduce to you: Stressed Sandra. A demanding job along with a busy personal life gives Sandra a lot to think about. More often than not, data security falls out of the equation. This can translate into costly mistakes. How exactly, you will read about in today’s blog.

Meet-team-Stressed-Sandra (1)


Sandra is an office manager at a law firm. She works feverishly to meet deadlines and sends out numerous emails and files on a daily basis. Not just that, she delegates tasks all day and often stays in late to finish paperwork. After several weeks, she still fails to get ahead. She feels frazzled and anxious.

With so much on her mind and a lot to do all the time, Sandra is vulnerable to overlooking errors in her work process. Ultimately, this can lead to a data breach.


The danger of stress

Always being stressed, Sandra constantly aims to get ahead of her work and unfortunately this can be at the expense of the organization’s as well as her own data security. Now, what effects can stress have concerning data security?

  • A lack of mental alertness, making Sandra sensitive to overlooking mistakes;
  • She has blurred thinking and difficulty concentrating causing impaired judgment. This makes her prone to accidents;
  • Stress can be well established before she is aware that it is degrading her performance at work
As she is thinking about all of the work she still has to do, it is easy for her to forget about the importance of secure mailing and how serious the eventual consequences can turn out to be.
  • She uses sticky notes to remember all of her work passwords, due to her stress, she forgets to remove these from her desk at the end of the day.
  • Sharing sensitive client information with the wrong persons.
  • Too much stress can worsen forgetfulness, as a result, the correct application of encryption can easily be overlooked.


How can we help Sandra?

Stress has proven time and time again to be of bad influence when carrying out daily tasks and this does not rule out the workplace. When stress affects your mind, it will also affect your behavior, leaving you more susceptible to accidental errors. So what can we do to support Sandra in this?

Sandra has enough to think about, so taking away her worries regarding data security is a priority. This can be done through, for example, smart scans that notify her before she is about to send a sensitive document or file to a certain person, a password manager to help store her passwords safely, and integrated awareness training to reduce the human error factor. This way, Sandra can focus on being productive in the areas that contribute the most to the core business.

Next week, we highlight another person who could use a hand in her data security handling, “Confident Carla“. What threat she poses to the data security of her organization, you will find out next week in the new “meet the team” series

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