About a year ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, sent an email to staff warning about a saboteur in their ranks. In the email, Musk states he was dismayed to learn about the sabotage by an employee. Musk wrote, “This included making direct code changes to the Tesla Manufacturing Operating System under false usernames and exporting large amounts of highly sensitive Tesla data to unknown third parties.” Musk also wrote that “there are a long list of organizations that want Tesla to die. These include Wall Street short-sellers, who have already lost billions of dollars and stand to lose a lot more. Then there are the oil & gas companies, the wealthiest industry in the world — they don't love the idea of Tesla advancing the progress of solar power & electric cars.”
In addition to this disgruntled employee, it seems that sabotage may have also been the culprit of the fires at the Tesla factory in Freemont California last year. It was reported on CNBC that Tesla has had more than 4 fires at the plant. In his email to staff advising them of the fire, Musk stated: “Could just be a random event”, but as Andy Grove (former Intel CEO) said, "Only the paranoid survive. Please be on the alert for anything that's not in the best interests of our company.”
Are Grove and Musk right in their assertion that only the paranoid survive? Business owners should always be aware of what threats might exist, both inside and outside the company. Musk wrote that the employee responsible for the sabotage told him he did it in response to not receiving a promotion. Could someone in your organization behave in the same way? According to an ethics study by North Carolina State University (NCSU), “The number one reason found to be the reason why employees try to sabotage their workplace is because they are unhappy with something in their workplace.” NCSU states that the best prevention is to train managers to gauge how staff are “feeling,” and instituting security best practices.
The reality is that the biggest threat to any organization is its staff. According to Security Intelligence, 75% of security breach incidents can be traced back to insiders. Insiders in an organization have access to key applications on a company’s network. However, not all insider breaches are caused by malicious activity. A survey of those who attended Black Hat 2017 showed that 84% of breaches could be attributed to “Human error.” In addition to better end user and social engineering training, it also seems that lack of InfoSec staff and too many false positive alerts are also contributing to the problem. So, while it is important to watch out for hackers on the outside, it seems “human error” and employee engagement problems need to also be addressed.
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