Do your employees know what a phishing email is? Would they know what to do if malware took over their computers? While certain cybersecurity measures seem common sense to many IT professionals, not everyone is educated on the best practices to keep themselves, and your company, safe from cyber risks. The only way to truly fix that is through awareness training.
Before you start emailing out a long list of online threats for your employees to avoid, first decide what are the biggest threats in your business? Then, come up with an action plan to educate and inspire your staff to be more diligent. Here are a few key messages every business should communicate!
1. This matters to everyone.
This may sound simple, but mindset is key when implementing a security plan. Not only should you explain to your employees how a security breach could impact the entire organization, you should also emphasize what that might mean for them individually. Not only could they lose personal data, but a significant cyber-attack can take down an entire company.
It may help to explain it to them like this; if someone at a healthcare organization or financial institution had access to their private information, wouldn’t they want that person to protect their data from hackers? The same professionalism and awareness expected from others is the level everyone should be giving to their clients. It’s also good job security to be cybersecurity aware. Many businesses cannot recover after an incident, and eventually must lay off employees after a breach.
2. Management is excited!
Similar to number 1, getting people on-board with a plan of action means they have to be motivated to make changes. Change is not always easy for people. That’s why having enthusiastic support from executives in the company will help encourage the rest of the staff to get pumped up about the new initiatives! Cybersecurity is a serious topic, but you can make the learning process enjoyable with a positive outlook. That motivation should start from the top!
3. Always be on guard.
While this may come across as paranoia, it’s a good frame of mind when dealing with any emails, or even people, that come from outside the company. Teach your employees the common cyber threats and how to avoid them. Here are a few:
- Phishing Emails – This is an email that looks legitimate, asking for the recipient’s private information. That could be usernames and passwords, or even credit card or social security numbers. A common threat within businesses is an email that appears to be from a manager, asking an employee to buy gift cards or send financial information. Always reach out to who the email is claiming to be from through another form of communication before giving out any information.
- Malware – Malware is any software designed to cause damage. This can come from a variety of sources, including emails or website links. Criminals will offer something alluring to the person viewing their content to click on. That link will then download the harmful software to computers, servers, or computer networks. The best way to combat this is to avoid clicking on anything until you verify the sender is trustworthy. Also, try hovering your mouse over the link to see where it will actually be taking you.
- Social Engineering – This is one of the most effective ways cybercriminals obtain private information from businesses. It’s often done in person, which makes confronting or stopping the attack intimidating to employees. Social Engineering is the use of deception to manipulate people into giving out confidential information. This can cover a wide range of attacks, but one you should emphasize with employees is facility access. If a cybercriminal has unauthorized access to your building, they can access private information. Humans are naturally helpful, which makes entering a building or private area of a business easy for some criminals. If your employees see someone who doesn’t belong in an area of the company, encourage them to ask that person questions. Even a friendly inquiry can scare off some intruders. If they don’t feel comfortable approaching the situation, give your staff a report chain to inform security or management of their suspicions quickly.
These are just a few of the ways you can educate and protect your employees. Starting with these can make a big impact on the cybersecurity of your staff.
4. Report everything you see.
This might be one of the most important messages you convey during awareness training. Every bit of information can help in the event of a cyber-attack. If security measures fail, having all possible knowledge of what led up for the incident can help digital forensics experts discover what happened and how to prevent it in the future. It’s also important to emphasize with staff that reporting something suspicious will not get them in trouble. Information is power.
Taking the time and using resources to provide your staff with cybersecurity knowledge could save your business. According to the FBI Internet Crime Report, more than $1.7 Billion was lost in 2019 from business email compromise. There were more than 114,000 phishing email complaints. Being proactive with awareness training and support for employees will not only protect them from detrimental attacks, your staff is also your first line of defense in protecting your company.