A rigorous cybersecurity plan is critical for your company’s protection, but it means nothing if your employees aren’t trained to recognize cyberthreats. When employees know what to watch out for, you can be assured that your organization will be safe from data breaches and other security issues. Implement these strategies to turn your employees into your best firewall.
You purchased the newest Wi-Fi-enabled coffee maker, toaster, or fridge for your home or office. You can even control this nifty new feature through an app. But as technology becomes more advanced in these ways, hackers have evolved right alongside it.
IBM’s “Cost of a Data Breach Report” estimates that the average data breach cost $3.86 million in 2020, with the U.S. coming in higher than the global average at $8.64 million. Cisco Umbrella points to increases in phishing and ransomware attacks as the reason for these high costs.
With cyberattacks getting more sophisticated, the best protection for your cybersecurity is right behind the keyboard. Training employees to recognize different types of attacks is an essential component of cybersecurity. It’s especially important in the age of remote and hybrid work models. Remote work exposes companies to wide arrays of attack vectors, with problems such as unsecured home devices and networks creating pileups of shadow IT. However, a knowledgeable employee can spot suspicious activity in logins, emails, or even phone calls and report issues to IT before they become widespread emergencies.
Preventing data breaches in distributed work environments isn’t easy, but it can (and must) be done to protect your firm and stave off regulators who are getting stricter about data privacy laws. While you prepare your cybersecurity team to tighten your firewalls, follow these three steps to get employees on the same page and prevent problems before they happen:
- Make cybersecurity practices a habit.
Cybersecurity is not a “one and done” deal. The only way to ensure comprehensive cybersecurity is to make safety practices a habit. Employees should automatically prioritize network safety because they’re the first line of defense for many scams. An employee who understands how to recognize a phishing attack can proactively prevent such incidents from gaining access to secure information.As CEO of Avatara, a premier national cloud computing IT platform provider that focuses on helping security- and productivity-conscious businesses with business analytics, compliance, and remote work solutions, Rob McCormick writes: “Cybersecurity strategies become more comprehensive when carried out by employees who instinctually prioritize network safety. Within most companies, the human workforce is the first line of defense against breachers. For example, an employee who knows how to detect a phishing email can thwart an attack in its tracks and prevent any potential fallout from occurring.”
Create written processes, procedures, and visual aids that instill cybersecurity into the daily tasks your employees complete. Make sure that each supervisor and team is fully trained and cognizant of the organization’s security-first mindset. With visual aids in every workstation, it doesn’t matter whether an employee works remotely or in the office — they’ll still have cybersecurity best practices at their fingertips.
- Instill a culture of cybersecurity.
A human firewall is the strongest defense against an attack. It takes more than just written instructions; every employee should have a firm idea of their place in the cybersecurity framework, from who reports the threats down to who handles them. If everyone thinks with a safety-first mindset, then the organization can run as a secure, harmonious environment. Think of it as maintaining a car’s engine so that you always have peak performance.“While a culture of security must start from the top, the attitudes and practices that are part of that culture must be adopted across the enterprise,” McCormick advises. “In some cases, leaders might receive pushback from managers who are already busy enough. In those cases, illustrate the large-scale ramifications that come with not paying attention to cybersecurity … The tendency is to view security solely as an IT problem, but nearly every business unit will be affected in the wake of a cyberattack.”
- Remember that no business is too small.
Large enterprises and government agencies already have cybersecurity in place. Small businesses, however, are the most likely to eschew strong cybersecurity capabilities because they don’t believe themselves to be worthy targets of attack. In fact, 43% of small businesses lack any type of cybersecurity plan and are therefore vulnerable to attack.Even if you’re an SMB, cybersecurity is important. You could own vulnerable equipment or resources, and cybercriminals could target you through the same automation tools leveraged by social media and web advertising networks. A business is never too small to need protection from cyberattacks and a team willing to do the work.
With so many potential ways to gain access to your systems, the best defense against a cyberattack is still a cybersecurity-savvy employee who is only one link among many in your human firewall.
Written by Rhett Power.
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