The common perception around cybersecurity is that IT departments are solely responsible for it. As such, it’s commonly considered a technical and administrative issue that employees play little or no part in. Unfortunately, its this perception that’s leaving so many businesses exposed to cyberattacks.
Almost all data breaches start with a social engineering attack, typically delivered by email or over social media, targeted towards employees. Anyone can be a target, and all these attacks have something in common — rather than exploiting vulnerabilities in technology itself, they exploit human ignorance and unpreparedness. That’s why employees must develop good security habits, like the ones below.
#1. Keep software up to date
Although social engineering presents by far the biggest threat, outdated software gives hackers an easy way to infiltrate business systems. For example, a lot of ransomware attacks exploit outdated operating systems. Other attacks deliberately target victims who have failed to install a critical security update.
There’s no denying that regular updates can be irritating, especially when you receive constant notifications to update whenever you open an app. While many modern apps keep up to date automatically, some require confirmation and additional steps. Employees should always be ready to install these updates to reduce the likelihood of cyberattacks.
#2. Create stronger passwords
The average US email address is associated with 130 online accounts ranging from internet banking to social media to online shopping and more. That’s a whole lot of login credentials to look after, so it’s perhaps hardly surprising that most people just use the same password for everything. Recycling passwords leaves you with many single points of failure. What’s more, a weak password is also easy to hack using a brute force attack, which guesses all possible character combinations until it finds the right one.
Employees should be adequately trained in the use of passwords. This means they need to be setting longer and more complex passwords that contain a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols. They should also enable multifactor authentication to add an extra layer of protection on your accounts in the form of temporary verification codes sent to your phone or biometric authentication (e.g., fingerprint scans and facial recognition).
#3. Back up data regularly
It has become commonplace for employees to work from home or on the move, typically using their own devices rather than those provided by the company. One of the biggest challenges of workforce mobility is that you can easily end up with important business data spread out across a huge range of different devices, therefore making it vulnerable to loss or theft.
No one should ever underestimate the importance of backing up their data, and employees need to be aware of your backup and disaster recovery policy. If they’re not, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. Another option is to have your employees use cloud-hosted apps where all data is stored online and kept in a secure off-site facility.
#4. Identify phishing scams
Given the fact that most cyber incidents stem from human error, untrained employees are usually the weakest link when it comes to information security and compliance. This also means your brand’s reputation rests on your employees’ shoulders. Even a seemingly minor mistake, such as downloading attachments or clicking on suspicious links in an email, can lead to a far more serious incident. Regularly training employees to be critical of every website or email they encounter online can prevent a slew of cyberattacks from spreading in the first place.
#5. Follow security policies
Security policies are worth nothing if they’re not thoroughly understood by everyone in your organization and enforced as necessary. Your security policies should cover every digital asset and the employees who use them. It’s something everyone on your team needs to be fully aware of and onboard with.
By following security policies to a T, employees will know exactly what constitutes the acceptable use of your company’s information resources, and they’ll know what to do during a cybersecurity incident. This helps create a culture of accountability and turn your employees from the weakest link into the first and last line of defense.
Valley Techlogic provides network security services, cutting-edge solutions, and expert advice to help your business fend off the latest threats. Call us today to keep your most critical assets safe and sound.