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Humans make email mistakes, but tech can help us do better

People make mistakes, meaning data incidents are always only ever one click away - right? CISO Nadine Hoogerwerf explores the role of technology in preventing human error in our highly regulated digital world.

“We all make mistakes.” We’ve all heard it and said it. It's a way of reminding us that making mistakes is a part of being human, and that no one is immune to slipping up from time to time. Never is this more true than with errors in email. 

While it's true that mistakes are inevitable, some are far more serious than others. Which raises the question: should we simply accept data incidents caused by human error as an unavoidable flaw in our data protection plans? Or is there another solution?

Is human error a fact of life? 

Depending on the sensitivity of the information involved, an email error could seriously jeopardize someone's privacy or result in leaking company secrets. 

Acknowledging that humans make mistakes doesn't mean that we have to resign ourselves to the inevitability of these errors. Fortunately, technology provides us with the means to mitigate the negative impacts of mistakes or even prevent them altogether.

How technology prevents human error

Let’s take a step back from the vector of email. Nowadays, modern cars are equipped with advanced collision detection systems to warn drivers of potential accidents, enabling them to take action before the worst happens. The next step is the development of self-driving cars, which have the potential to eliminate the risk of human errors entirely.

In this sense, the consensus is clear: leveraging technology to help us avoid mistakes is undeniably beneficial. 

There are numerous other instances in which technology is used to reduce the impact or likelihood of errors: spell check functionality, smoke alarms, medical barcode systems - the list goes on. These are all examples of technologies that are not only a “nice to have” but a “need to have”.

I would argue that technology designed to prevent email mistakes should be considered essential too.

With the right email security solution, users receive warnings to potential errors, or are simply blocked from making critical mistakes. Human error remains the leading cause of data incidents according to the ICO. These errors include sending a message to multiple people in the ‘to’ field instead of using bcc, unknowingly sharing an attachment that includes social security numbers, or forwarding an email with company secrets to their personal (and probably non-secure) email inbox. 

While the adage "we all make mistakes" acknowledges our imperfection, it doesn't mean we should simply accept that data incidents will occur. Technology exists to prevent those small mistakes with huge repercussions - why not rely on data leak prevention technology to the same extent as spell check?

Read more about  how Zivver can protect your organization from human error or speak with one of our security experts.

First published -
Last updated - 21/09/23
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