Cybersecurity. It’s a term that’s been tossed around every so often. However, what’s NOT tossed around is the importance of having cybersecurity in your company.
Just like individuals, companies can get attacked by hackers, threatening the security of employee information, consumer information, digital assets, intellectual property (IP), etc.
With that said, how can a company prevent bad actors from hacking into databases and compromising personal and sensitive data?
In this article, we’ll show you 8 tips on educating your employees about cybersecurity, and putting your cybersecurity policies to work.
1. Understand Your Employees
First and foremost, don’t ever point the finger at your employees, unless you have solid reasons to believe that they might have compromised your company’s cyber security.
Most of the time, an unsuspecting employee might accidentally click on something on their business computer. Or, the breach might come from out of nowhere without anyone being at the computer.
Needless to say, cyber-attacks can come from anywhere and anyone. So, before you investigate your employees, it’s important to look at the evidence first.
2. Employee Training
Your employees look to you – management – for how your company should be run. Cybersecurity, therefore, should be one of the top priorities, when you train employees, especially new hires (which we will talk about later on in our “Onboarding” section in this article).
Since cybersecurity is vital to your company’s database, it’s important to demonstrate this need to your employees. Remember: Cyberattacks can happen anytime, anywhere.
There’s no way to predict the next attack. But with informed employees, your company can be ready for anything. So, make sure that you train your employees to spot cyberattack attempts and report anything suspicious online.
3. Practice Cybersecurity Awareness
The truth is, even management in a company can forget about cybersecurity every so often. That’s why it’s important to set an example for your employees by practicing cybersecurity awareness yourself.
One of the best ways to get your employees’ attention to the matter is through your email newsletter.
Every once in a while, – maybe monthly or bimonthly – you can send employees an informative email about the importance of practicing cybersecurity. In your newsletter, be sure to include the following:
- Organizing emails
- Reporting suspicious emails (i.e., links, attachments, etc.)
- The importance of updating apps, software, etc.
- Reminders on company guidelines, and so on.
Remember: When you, the manager, are aware of cyberattacks, so will your employees.
4. Executive Buy-In
Sometimes, cybersecurity takes more than word of mouth to reinforce the importance of having this kind of protection in the company.
In fact, investing in more cybersecurity can be beneficial to your company. This is considered an “executive buy-in.”
Panorama Consulting Group defines an executive buy-in as “go[ing] beyond approving the budget to pay for [a] project.” In other words, if you have enough in your company’s budget to upgrade to better cybersecurity, then don’t hesitate in investing in it.
Plus, in an executive buy-in, you’ll need to calculate the costs of assets should a cyberattack happen. In this way, you and your company will be more prepared financially whenever disaster strikes.
5. Practice Password Security
Passwords. Everyone creates and uses passwords for their devices, apps, accounts, and so on. Companies and the workplace are no strangers to password usage.
That’s why it’s important to educate your employees about creating strong passwords for their work and devices. In fact, here are some of the traits that passwords need in order for them to be professional and secure in the workplace:
- Passwords need to be long. At least eight characters in a password will work. But whatever you do, don’t let employees create short and easy-to-guess passwords for their work devices and or accounts.
- Multiple character sets in passwords are encouraged. Character sets include:
- Uppercase characters
- Lowercase characters
- Numbers, AND
- Symbols (!@#$%&)
Adding many of these characters can make your passwords more complex and harder to crack by hackers.
- No complete words. Again, passwords need to be hard to guess, and complex beyond comprehend.
- Passwords should be changed regularly. Using the same password repeatedly makes your account, app, etc. more vulnerable to hackings.
- Never share your passwords across accounts. Let’s face it: If someone guesses your password in one account, then they’ll use that knowledge against your other accounts that are associated with said password. It’s a chain reaction that you don’t want happening. Therefore, you’ll need different passwords for different accounts, so that hackers can’t get into your other accounts with just one password.
When you – management – follow these tips yourself, your employees are more likely to follow suit.
6. Educate Employees About Phishing And Other Cyberattacks
Phishing, unfortunately, happens all the time, when it comes to messages and emails.
In fact, it’s easy for hackers to spoof email addresses or sites to create what’s called a targeted “man-in-the-middle” attack – a phishing scheme that convinces the recipient to click a link or attachment, and then compromise the recipient’s computer.
Whether the recipient does this in error or intentionally, phishing, among other cyberattacks can happen without warning.
That’s why it’s important to train your employees to recognize phishing schemes whenever they use their business emails and or messaging apps.
It’s also important to show employees how these schemes are creating, and how to tell the difference between a legitimate email and a fraudulent email. Such tips include the following:
- Check the email format. If there are many typos and weird sentencings, then it’s most likely fraudulent.
- Inspect the sender email address. If it reads and sounds strange, then it’s most likely fraudulent.
- Check if the email asks for personal information (i.e., login credentials) or money.
- Examine the legitimacy of a link without clicking on it, hover over it. If the link looks strange, then it’s fraudulent.
- Scan any email attachments before opening them. Attachments are another way that hackers can infiltrate your computer or device.
Plus, hackers will use phone calls to get you or your employees to cough up personal information. For example, an attacker might pose as a vendor and call your company for help. They’ll even send you robocalls that will entice call recipients to react in a short time.
So, make sure that you and your employees use common sense by learning about phishing attempts.
7. Onboarding With Cyber Security
Cyber security should be a part of your company’s onboarding processes. When bringing on new hires, they should be educated on protecting themselves in the digital realm.
Since new employees will be learning new things once they’re hired, it’s important to talk to them about cyber security by giving them guidelines on how to stay safe on company computers.
Plus, it’s important to implore new hires to report suspicious content online, even if it’s a gut feeling that they have.
When talking to new hires, be sure to talk about the following:
- Appropriate software and apps to use
- Email etiquette
- Security software to acknowledge
- The penalties for failing to report cyberattacks, etc.
8. Regular Practice Attacks
Finally, drills are important to conduct in your company.
Here’s how it works: Like a fire drill, you can shut off your employees’ computers without warning, and then see how they react and what they’ll do in a situation like that.
Then, once the drill is over, you can educate your employees into remaining calm and reporting anything wrong with the computers.
Another example is by sending a fake email using an unrecognizable email address, and see how your employees will react to it. Whoever reports the email to you will have done the right thing.
By having regular practice cyberattacks in your company, you’ll be training your employees to spot attacks and to report them as soon as possible to management. This also makes your employees think quick on their feet, and do the right thing by reporting any attacks.
Even if they make mistakes here and there, they can learn from them and do better next time. Again, like a fire drill, employees need to be ready for anything, including cyberattacks.
As you can see, cyberattacks can happen when least expected. This is especially true for companies because they are just as vulnerable to cyberattacks as someone with a computer at home. When a cyberattack hits a company, the end results can cost time, money, assets, and so on.
So, just to recap, here are 8 ways to train your employees on cybersecurity:
- Understand that your employees can make mistakes.
- Beef up employee training.
- Practice cybersecurity awareness yourself.
- Consider executive buy-ins.
- Encourage your employees to create strong passwords.
- Talk about phishing schemes to employees.
- Talk about cybersecurity in your onboarding efforts. AND,
- Practice cyberattacks drills.
So, let all of this be a PSA for you and your company. By working to practice cybersecurity in your company, not only will you be informed on cyberattacks, but so will your employees. Remember: Training is key to preventing cyberattacks in your organization.
Emily Henry is a writer at Ukwritings and Academized. She is also a contributing writer for OXessays. As a content writer, she writes about cyber security, office etiquette, remote work trends, and workplace culture.