Employee Cybersecurity Measures
The internet has become the largest public data network, bringing people together for personal and business communication globally. The volume of traffic that passes through the internet grows with each passing day. While the internet has significantly changed and enhanced the way companies do business, it has also opened doors for various security threats. Corporations cannot afford to take cybersecurity measures lightly and must do everything possible to protect themselves.
Research shows that employees are in the front lines of information security. As such, they present the weakest link for attack by cybercriminals. The need to create security awareness and train employees to stay safe on business networks cannot be overemphasized. Educating them on what it takes to protect confidential data and proprietary documents is crucial. Any information leakage, whether intentional or unintentional, can hurt an organization in the form of:
- Leaked information that helps competitors gain a competitive edge over the affected company
- Violation of regulations, which could lead to expensive lawsuits
- Hurting a company’s corporate image
- Exposure of employee’s personal information
- Putting customers and business partners at risk, hence compromising the reputation of the industry.
It only takes a single cyberattack incident to taint a company’s good image. This will also destroy the goodwill it established and built with its customer base.
In view of these facts, what measures should you take to protect your business, given that employees are the weakest link for attack? These guidelines can help you put up cybersecurity policies targeting employees and everyone else who has access to your systems and hardware. This will go a long way to help mitigate the security risks that face them.
How Do Cyberattacks Happen?
Hackers gain access to your computers or networks by breaking in and leaving their “footprints” or fake applications or messages on your computer desktops. More notorious hackers, known as “crackers,” crash your entire system, damaging or stealing confidential data and destroying your web pages. The impact of such an attack is disruption of business. Hackers gain access through:
- Unsuspecting employees, especially because they tend to overlook network security issues. For example, they use simple passwords to log on to their networks. Employees also unconsciously spread viruses by opening emails with malicious files attached.
- Snoops: some employees are naturally curious or mischievous. They partake in corporate espionage, enabling them to access confidential data to provide competitors with inaccessible information. Other actions like viewing correspondence between associates or a company’s financial data may seem harmless, but could cause your company untold financial liability.
- Web app attacks: they are the most common type of data breach. Weaknesses in the applications you use, for example, insufficient input validation, are some things hackers exploit. They use malware, plain guessing, and phishing techniques to access personal information. They then use the stolen credentials to gain access to your network by impersonating a valid user.
- Insider and privilege misuse of organizational resources: people working inside your company may misuse valuable intellectual property. This is an ongoing threat for companies as such breaches are challenging to prevent.
- Physical theft and loss: theft of physical devices that you use to process, store, and transfer information is a real threat to businesses. Employee carelessness is the greatest contributor to device loss, and they should be encouraged to keep track of personal and company devices.
- Miscellaneous errors when providing professional services: they arise from faulty materials, negligence, and disagreements.
- Denial of Service attacks: these compromise the availability of systems and networks. Attackers are now using more sophisticated tools to wreak havoc on company systems.
When hackers attack your systems, they do so by implanting viruses, spam, Trojan horse programs, vandals, data interception programs, or through social engineering. What measures should you put in place to ensure that your systems are well protected?
Measures to Reduce Cybersecurity Risk
Secure management of confidential information and intellectual property is crucial for your corporate reputation. However, the need to share and access information widely using various technologies increases the risk of data becoming misappropriated. Confidential data is valuable and should remain secret, examples being:
- Customer, vendor, and partner data
- Unpublished financial information
- Patents, technologies, and formulas
- Lists of existing and prospective customers
All employees must protect this data by doing the following:
Protect Personal and Company Devices
Allowing employees to use personally-owned digital devices to access company networks is a risk to your data. If they must, the devices must be password protected and equipped with an upgraded version of reliable antivirus software. They also must install security updates on their systems and browsers as soon as the updates are available. Encourage them not to leave their devices unattended and log into company accounts and systems through private and secure networks only.
Keep Emails Safe
Emails are hosts for malicious software and scams. Employees can avoid attacks through emails by not opening attachments and links that are not adequately explained. They should be cautious of clickbait titles that offer prizes, and should also be on the lookout for inconsistencies like grammar mistakes and inappropriate capital letters. If an employee isn’t sure about the safety of any email they receive, they should confirm the email and names of the sender first or check with the internal IT team.
Proper Management of Passwords
Password leaks compromise your company’s security and can bring the entire infrastructure crumbling. Passwords should be so secure that they are not easily hacked and should also remain secret. As such, employees should be advised and trained on the importance of:
- Choosing passwords that are at least eight characters long, with a combination of upper case letters, lower case letters, symbols, and numbers, avoiding information that hackers can easily guess
- Not recycling passwords across multiple accounts
- Remembering their passwords off-head as opposed to writing them down. Remembering several passwords can be daunting, but you can help your employees by purchasing the services of a password management solution
- Give out their credentials or share with colleagues only when it’s absolutely necessary, and remember to change them afterward
- Change their passwords periodically. Most company policies require that employees change their passwords every 60 or 90 days.
Secure Data Transfer
Data transfer presents a certain risk level for your company. Therefore, employees must avoid transferring sensitive data unless it is undeniably necessary. In mass data transfer, it’s also wise to enlist the help of the security team. In the same breath, employees must never share confidential data over public Wi-Fi or private connections.
They must verify that the recipients of any data they transfer are authorized people or organizations with adequate security policies.
Home and Mobile Working
Employees who work remotely should carefully follow all data encryption and protection standards, ensuring their private network is safe. They must maintain their awareness about the risk they face when working out of the office. Ensure you train them on how to use their mobile devices securely by following laid-down security protocols.
Cybersecurity Solutions In Central Pennsylvania
Your company data must stay safe and well protected internally and externally to gain the trust of your customers and other stakeholders. Unfortunately, hackers know that employees are a weak link, and can use them to compromise your data effortlessly. This is why you must take proactive measures towards sensitizing and educating employees about cybersecurity. The above are just a few of the steps you can take to reduce the risk employees face as targets of cyberattacks.
For the overall enhanced security of your systems, there’s a need to work with cybersecurity experts. They provide solutions to monitor your systems around the clock, recognize potential threats, and stop attacks before they happen. At MainStreet IT solutions, we are your go-to cybersecurity experts. Call us today, and let’s discuss how we can enhance your cybersecurity.