Cybersecurity: The Importance of Employee Training
for Protecting Your Business
Cyber threats today seemingly come from every direction. It’s a chief concern for businesses whether large or small. Unlike any security issue businesses have faced before, cybercrime threats are ever-mounting, complex, and remote making tracking difficult at best. The impact is leaving businesses clamoring to protect themselves and spending billions annually – $1.07B last year alone to be exact1. Targeting everything from sensitive business information, to corporate accounts, to personal information, cybercriminals are using countless techniques to commit online fraud.
Much is being done to combat these threats. Yet, despite the barrage of increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity software, services, and hardware, there’s one line of defense between your business and threats that can be more effective than all of these latest technologies – your employees.
When you think about your cybersecurity strategy, make sure to train and prepare your employees today. Here’s a deeper look at the issue and steps to get your business started.
The Unique Challenges of Cybercrime
There’s nothing like the fear of being hacked to make businesses willing to spend cash on cybersecurity tools and services. What makes cybercrime unique is the use of the internet allowing criminal activity to be done anonymously and from any location on the globe. That’s not to mention the geographic jurisdictional issues that relate to laws and the enforcement of cybercrime.
Such malicious activity can attack computers, networks, programs, data, and other information for unintended or unauthorized access, changes, or destruction. Numerous methods for cybercrime exist. You’re probably familiar with the most common of these – identify theft2, spam and phishing3, or malware-based attacks4 to name a few.
While it may not be realistic to know them all as these threats continuously evolve, there are basic precautions and best practices your team of employees can adopt themselves.
Employees’ Role in Cyber Threats
In the line of cybersecurity defense, it is people -- not technology or computers -- that are the weakest link. Methods like phishing continue to target employees with fake emails asking for information, to click on a link, or open an attachment. Other methods are emerging like social engineering to target employees through human or computer interaction.
Employees “are your biggest asset” as the old adage goes. They are critical for any business to operate and offer valuable knowledge and skills that help businesses grow, but also control access to computers and technology platforms, data, networks, customer information … the list of sensitive information goes on.
Cybercriminals understand human vulnerabilities and play on them when attempting to get through employees to the information they want. Consider the following:
We have a tendency to “help” – that is bend the rules out of sympathy, compassion, guilt, friendliness, etc.
We’re inclined to follow authority – or perceived authority.
We tend to follow social norms – to be polite.
We don’t like conflict – there is a tendency to avoid adverse consequences.
Of course, there are more, but the point is clear. Vulnerabilities such as these lead to the disclosure of information or open opportunities for cybercriminals to breach information.
Getting Started with Training Employees
Untrained employees confronted with techniques that prey on these natural vulnerabilities are significantly more susceptible. Here are some baseline best practices to get started.
Create awareness among employees about their role. Help employees understand their vital importance in protecting information. They need to be educated about threats and take them seriously.
Control access to data. Place controls and access limits to data and computers and create accounts for each employee.
Ensure employees take basic precaution with emails. Employees should be trained to never open unknown or suspicious email attachments or links. Similarly, never divulge personal or business information requested by email.
Have employees verify information sources. When in doubt, employees should check website URLs for legitimacy by typing the actual address into the web browser. They can also hover over web links to see the navigation paths.
Learning More and Preparing Your Team
Most importantly, businesses can help themselves by being proactive with employee training – leveraging resources, best practices and setting in place a training process to teach employees about internet use and other cyber-related threats.
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