Cybersecurity Basics: How Every Employee Can Contribute

There are a lot of measures that your IT professionals can take to keep your organization safe from a cybersecurity attack. What can be a struggle is the habits of employees who are not IT professionals. Cyber-attacks can happen to anyone, and when you lack the knowledge to stop them, you are leaving your company in a vulnerable position.

That's why it is critical that everyone in your organization learn cybersecurity basics. In 2021, worldwide cybercrime damage cost $16.4 billion per day, according to Cybercrime Magazine. Broken down further, that means $190,000 per second.

Cisco reported that, in 2020, 16% of organizations had over 100,000 daily security alerts. While these are startling statistics, the genuine fear is that it will continue to grow, and no one knows how big it will grow either.

Your staff, no matter the roles, must practice cybersecurity awareness. Every employee can contribute to cybersecurity, and here is how.

The Importance of Cybersecurity Basics

According to a recent Gallup poll, since the pandemic began, about half of employees are working from home. This makes cybersecurity more challenging.

It is a good time for cybersecurity training. All employees should understand how to prevent cyberattacks, including how a cybercriminal can access a person's email, social media, and other applications that the organization uses. Cybersecurity training is valuable information for a company's technical resources, but it also helps employees when they use their personal devices.

Network firewalls are excellent for data protection. They prevent hackers from entering mail servers. However, an employee's social media account, personal email, and video conferencing leave them vulnerable, unfortunately.

Personal cyberattacks are tremendous burdens for companies. This can render an employee incapable of working for hours or even a few days. Your IT support and security may need to step in.

IBM released a report entitled the Cost of a Data Breach, and the United States has the highest data breach costs in the world. The average attack costs $8.6 million. If you can teach the cybersecurity basics to all staff, you can avoid such costly issues from happening.

Education on Phishing Emails

Security officers are finding phishing attacks that target employees to be a growing problem. In fact, the FBI reported that 6.95 million brand-new phishing and scam pages hit in 2020, making it a common cyberattack. Also, in 2020, just about three out of four businesses experienced a phishing attack.

Emails and VoIP calls can deliver phishing attacks. Some emails have a subject line that says it is about payroll or it refers to COVID-19. They can get your attention by using a priority subject or instilling fear.

Cybercriminals are a lot like sly foxes. They are sneaky. You want to help employees understand this and to practice extreme caution with emails.

Let your staff know they should never open an attachment or click on a link from a sender that they do not know or trust, especially if it appears to be a suspicious email. Pop-up windows and malicious links can have malware and viruses embedded. Studies revealed that during the pandemic, ransomware attacks increased by over 40%.

Many companies have implemented a banner in the body of their emails that clearly state that the message is from an outside party. This helps workers to identify that a sender may not be who they say they are. They must proceed with caution.

If an employee finds a phishing email, they should report it. Your workers need a clear channel to communicate these incidents, too. Open an incident reporting system or a dedicated line they can text.

Teach your employees that reporting such incidents individually will help collectively because the organization is aware and can keep on top of such incidents. Cyberattacks vary, so it is important to report the incidents and investigate them.

Data Protection and Pop-ups

Just like you do not want to share personal information outside of work, it is the same for company data. Like giving your credit card number or Social Security number to a suspicious phone call, text, or email, you should not do this at work either.

We know cybercriminals for creating websites and emails that may look legitimate, but they are not. They can use a fake caller ID and take over a social media account.

Teach employees not to share your company's sensitive data or intellectual property. An example of this would be if your employee shares a picture online where the corporate computer screen is in the background. You may accidentally reveal a customer's private details if it is open.

Employees can protect data, customers, and other employees by destroying data if it is no longer needed.

Strong Passwords and User Authentication

Cyber thieves are less likely to access company information when you use a strong, complex password. When you use a simple password, they have easy access. Unfortunately, a cybercriminal can access an entire company's network by obtaining an easy password.

Teach employees to create complex, unique passwords. This means using at least ten characters. Include capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols in their password.

When possible, force employees to change their passwords regularly. This can annoy employees to change them often and then have to remember their new passwords. Give them the option to leverage a password manager to better assist them.

When accessing a sensitive network area, require multi-factor authentication. It adds at least one additional step and an added layer of protection. Often, it will send a temporary code to your smartphone.

Secure Wi-Fi

The Wi-Fi network you have in your office should be secure and encrypted. If employees work remotely, they can protect company data by using a "virtual private work." Offer one if the employee does not have one already.

A VPN is important for work performed outside the company's location. Using a public Wi-Fi network is risky, like when you are at a coffee shop or hotel. It makes the company's data vulnerable.

Firewall Protection

Both at the office and at home enable a firewall. This serves as the first line of defense for data protection and fending off cyberattacks. A firewall prevents a user who is unauthorized from accessing your mail services, websites, and other sources of online information.

When you have employees who work remotely, you want to encourage them to install a firewall at home. You can provide firewall software to employees at no cost to them.

Security Software Updates

IT security uses best practices, and they should ask all employees to follow suit. This means keeping web browsers, operating systems, and security software up to date with the latest protections. Anti-malware and antivirus protections get revised often so that they can target and respond to newly engineered cyberthreats.

Have your IT department send instructions on how to perform security updates. Ask employees to install them right away. Give a deadline too so that it is a priority and doesn't get pushed to the bottom of their daily task list.

Personal devices must be up to date, too. Promptly installing an update helps defeat new cybersecurity threats, rendering them extinct.

Backup Employee Files

It should be a common practice for both IT and employees to back up files often. Unfortunately, a cyber threat will target your data. In cases of ransomware attacks, malware attacks, and data breaches, keep your files secure, but equally important is to back them up.

Most organizations have established rules about how and where to perform data backup. Data can be stored in the cloud, offline, or on an external hard drive.

Cyberstalking

While it may not lead to a data breach, train employees on the dangers of cyberstalking. Cyberstalking is a crime. The criminal will use digital or electronic technology like email, social media, instant messaging, discussion groups, or forums to stalk and harass a victim.

Electronic communications that are used to threaten or harass a person with physical harm are against the law. Human resources and IT should include this in your cybersecurity awareness discussions.

Open Dialogue Between Employees and IT

Communication is a key part of all of this. Cybersecurity awareness starts with employees talking to their IT department regularly. Encourage your employees that, when they are in doubt, reach out to information security and your organization's IT support team.

Too many times, cybersecurity training will fail because of a lack of communication. The IT department is a friend and they are ready to help.

NETdepot Supports Cybersecurity Awareness and Training

Understanding cybersecurity basics is critical for everyone. You may need to shift your company culture in this direction and include regular cybersecurity training, but not to worry. It is well worth the rewards for everyone involved.

Cyberattacks negatively impact everyone, no matter the role.

Learn more about NETdepot's customized security platform. We supercharge your security posture by uniting environments into a single workspace. We also provide total transparency of threat remediation.

Contact NETdepot today and let's talk about cybersecurity awareness.

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