By John Ocampos
You are not an exemption.
This should be always on top of your mind when it comes to cybersecurity threats. Cybercriminals do not make an exception. Whether you own a multi-million dollar company or you are just starting to build your enterprise, you are at risk. Some business owners may even think that their businesses are too small for cybercriminals to notice, but then again, no one is exempted from these threats.
One key factor that some employers and even big companies seem to overlook is educating employees about possible cyber breaches. This often leaves an impression to a lot of employees that only the IT department should have been knowledgeable about this and should be able to fix any attack that may happen in the company. However, this is not true.
Oftentimes, regular employees have been the subject of many cyberattacks that starts with a simple email. You may want to take note that some of the biggest attacks in history happened because an employee was able to receive a phishing email, opened it and clicked the link that spiraled to many consumer’s data being comprised.
While you may not be able to dodge every cyber attack coming your way, you can always minimize the damage it can inflict by educating your employees on how to counter it.
So here are some tips on how you can educate your employees about cybersecurity.
1. Make Cybersecurity Part of the Onboarding Process
Review your onboarding process and if it does not include any orientation for cybersecurity, then it is the time to do so. It would be better as well to have your IT department be part of your onboarding activity so it will be explained well.
It is essential that you impart to your new employees the importance and gravity of cyber threats so they will take it seriously. Since most of them are still adapting to their new work and their new environment, cybersecurity is quite overwhelming for them and some may just brush it off if not reinforced well.
If you will not guide them and teach them proper etiquette when it comes to cybersecurity, they will be likely turned into the weakest link in your company and fell as the first victim when an attack occurs.
2. Make It Mandatory
The no-exemption rule should also apply to all of your employees in terms of cybersecurity.
Regardless of any position in the company, they should be well informed on how cybersecurity matters and its importance. Everyone who has access to company-provided devices like desktop, laptops, laptops and even mobile phones should know and practice safe internet browsing.
3. Teach Them the Right Password Combinations
Strong passwords have always been one of the best ways to combat any attack. Almost all of your employees have been using passwords and if theirs are not strong enough, they are not just compromising their cyber safety but the rest of your company as well. A strong and unique password should always be used across your company.
Always remind your employees to follow the fundamentals of having a strong password:
- Use multiple character sets – uppercase, lowercase, numerals, and symbols.
- It should have at least eight characters.
- It should not be comprised of complete words.
- It should be unique per individual and not be shared across the company.
- And, it should be changed regularly.
Having these password best practices can be the start of your strong organizational security plan.
4. Recognize Phishing Emails
Studying the biggest threats ever recorded in history will reveal one thing, most of them were because of human errors. As cybercriminals have become advance as well in executing their plans, they are sometimes hard to detect especially for regular employees.
Attackers can now even make an attack look like an ordinary email with ordinary links and web domains. To determine and help your employees recognize a suspicious email, you need to teach them how to know the one with these identifiers:
- Always check for the sender’s email address and verify it.
- Look out for some changes in the email format especially if it comes from a regular sender.
- Do not click on the link instantly without verifying it first.
- Always scan attachments.
5. Make Cybersecurity Awareness a Priority
Conduct regular training with your employees where you can discuss ways to know an attack and the latest trend about cybersecurity. Since, there is little to no news about security breaches that can be found in mainstream media, it is important to update and share with each other the latest cybersecurity news you know.
These regular meetings will likewise strengthen your defenses as your employees are reminded of it more often.
6. Conduct Cybersecurity Tests
As cybersecurity is not the primary line of work of most of your employees, it is important to test their knowledge to know if they have really adapted well with your cybersecurity guidelines.
Work with your IT department to create a fabricated phishing attack to see how your employees will respond. You can assess if they will be able to resist the attack or if they will fail to recognize the faux email and release sensitive information from your company. You will also be able to check if the pieces of training you have done to strengthen your defenses are effective.
If you want to elevate your test, you can even get a third party to check your company and your employee’s preparedness. Conducting cybersecurity drills lets you know the weakest point in your company and allows you to tweak some of your ongoing cybersecurity plans.
Do not wait for the time that you will be infiltrated with a cyber-attack before you take any precautionary measures. It might not be easy at first and may require additional efforts from you and the rest of your team however, it will be worth it. Stop thinking if you will experience an attack or not but rather always think that you if will be targeted today, are you ready for it?