Your employees can be a vital line of defense against cybercrime when they are provided with the right training and information. Without the right employee training, they can potentially be a weakness in your system.
Even the strongest cybersecurity measures are no guarantee that employees won’t unintentionally fall victim to a phishing email, for example, leading to a damaging data breach. To minimize these risks, your business must offer employee training on cybersecurity best practices.
Employee activity can lead to a plethora of different types of security breaches, but you shouldn’t restrict them to the point where they can’t do their jobs. For example, there are many different types of email threats, but your employees have to access their inboxes. The best way to prevent employees from clicking on links on links from phishing attacks is employee training. Let them know what to look for and what precautions to take.
People outside of your organization could sign in to your business platforms, but you can’t lock them down to the point where it impedes your employees’ productivity.
The best way to counteract this issue is to have single sign-on and two-factor authentication for all your business apps.
Employees won’t be able to consider cybersecurity a priority unless they understand why it is important, and they won’t abide by your security measures unless it’s easy for them. Employee training regarding risks to the business, as well as precautions they can take, can go a long way. It is vital that your employees follow good cybersecurity best practices, especially as more people are working from home than ever before.
Cybersecurity is a modern essential – no longer something that can be left to the IT department to manage; every employee must play a role. Understanding the risks helps individuals to reduce the likelihood of their data being leaked, as well as suffering fraud or financial loss. And good business cybersecurity minimizes the risk of the business being attacked and suffering as a result.
While individuals might easily understand the implications of their information being stolen, they need to be aware that a business breach can lead to the company suffering not only damage to its finance but its reputation too. Things can be worsened by failures in compliance and the resulting fines, as well as the loss of customers due to a lack of trust.
Strong cybersecurity best practices need to come from the top-down – management must lead by example and stress to employees how important it is to take precautions. This is where good employee training comes into play. This responsibility applies to everyone, especially those at the top, but employee training applies to everyone. If you have one or a few employees who don’t know what to look out for or what steps to take, they could be the weak link that’s not protecting your organization.
It’s a good idea to have cybersecurity ambassadors in every department that clearly understand the risks, and particularly those risks inherent to that area of the business, but educating each employee is vital. Employee training allows your employees to be in the know so they can still do their jobs without fear of doing something wrong. They’ll know how to securely access their work platforms, what kind of emails may have suspicious links, and how to be responsible on social media.
Many employees think of issues surrounding cybersecurity relating to phishing emails or fraudulent phone calls - but it is also worth considering cybersecurity from the perspective of social media. Many employees use social media as a part of their work, while almost all will have private social media accounts.
Employee training is a great way to help employees understand how to carry themselves on social media. Having this baked into your corporate social media policy can help as well. But precautions such as two-factor authentication can also have.
It is a great idea for employees to protect their social media accounts with two-factor authentication - this involves using another method in verifying identity. This could include sending a code to an email address or a text. Adding another layer of authentication adds another layer of protection from people hijacking an account.
Additionally, users need to think the security precautions are easy enough for them to abide by, or else they won’t want to use it. For example, if you need two-factor authentication on every app you want to use, you might not want to utilize this technology because you’ll spend too much time typing in passwords.
Instead, employees should utilize single sign-on platforms so they can access their apps with one secure log-in that requires multi-factor authentication.
It can be easy to assume that one of the best ways to ensure good cybersecurity practices is to have strong consequences for employees who do something incorrect relating to security. It has been reported that as many as four in every ten organizations punish staff who make cybersecurity errors.
But this may be unwise. With the best will in the world, mistakes will happen from time to time. It is a much better idea to encourage a company culture where people are not afraid to report errors.
For example, people shy away from promoting anything on social media because they are afraid of doing something wrong. If you let them know that they won’t be punished for a simple mistake, they’ll be more confident about going on social media and promoting your brand.
Mistakes are likely to be far less damaging if they are addressed early. So instead of counterproductively punishing errors, it is a good idea to reward best practices. The carrot, in this case, is mightier than the stick.
There is no point in providing employee training if your staff either aren’t going to listen or are going to forget everything. It is vital that cybersecurity training is relevant to how your staff work, as well as being highly engaging and memorable.
Don’t just give a yearly PowerPoint presentation with lots of jargon and a condescending tone. Instead, run interaction workshops and use examples from real life.
Employee training should be kept fresh and up-to-date. The threat landscape is continually evolving, so your training scheme must be updated to cover the latest types of threats and best practices.
For example, think about how COVID-19 has affected working behavior and amplified the cybersecurity threats surrounding remote working, and the need to introduce secure working practices concerning the use of VPNs and video calling software.
There are now even phishing schemes attempting to take advantage of medical fears surrounding COVID-19 showing just how quickly cybercriminals can exploit a situation to their advantage.
Simulated social engineering assessments can be a great way to raise awareness. Social engineering assessments are a type of penetration testing in which cybersecurity professionals carry out a simulated phishing attack using techniques that are popular amongst cybercriminals.
This type of assessment not only establishes whether strong enough cybersecurity measures are in place to stop the attack, but it also looks at how the employee responds – not only whether or not they are tricked by the email, but whether they report this attack or take any further steps.
Given that there is so much that employees can do to help mitigate the risk of a cyberattack, building a cybersecurity culture within your organization is now imperative. Establishing this kind of security culture won’t happen overnight, but by actioning some of the tips referenced here, you’ll be taking important steps in helping your employees care more about cybersecurity and how to better protect both themselves and your business.
Dakota Murphey has over 10 years of experience in employee engagement and business growth. Dakota enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience through her writing. Find out what else she's been up to over on Twitter: @Dakota_Murphey.
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