It’s said that humans are the weakest link in cybersecurity. In fact, recent research shows that 95% of all internet crimes and security breaches were caused by human error. Whether it’s due to negligence, malicious intent, or lack of awareness, internet-based threats cause a significant loss to businesses—from data loss to ruined brand reputation, monetary loss, and even legal complications—damages are often irreparable.
Therefore, it’s essential that employees are made aware of their security responsibilities. Moreover, appropriate training goes a long way in maintaining data integrity and ensuring business continuity. This blog discusses how organizations can take adequate measures to protect themselves from rising cyber threats by educating employees.
The first step: awareness
It’s no surprise that employees aren’t security pros. However, education can turn the tables around and make employees aware of basic security measures. Here’s how organizations can raise security awareness.
- Show value and risks
Employees are more inclined to adhere to security procedures faithfully if they are aware of the benefits of doing so and the consequences of failing to do so.
- Implement training during onboarding
It’s vital to set the tone right from day one. And security training as a part of the onboarding process is a great way to incorporate the same. This shows that an organization takes its security concerns seriously, promotes a healthy security culture, and helps employees stay on the right track.
- Send regular updates
Employees should be kept regularly informed about any new updates in the software or operation systems. Additionally, IT workers can broadcast security news so that the entire company is aware of the threat environment and can remain vigilant.
- Educate about incident response
Even after taking every possible measure, employees must know the next steps if the email account, data, or any other asset is compromised. They should be able to communicate with the IT staff so that immediate actions can be taken and the attack can be stopped from conducting further damage.
- Reward employees
You could even reward employees who bring malicious activities like emails to attention. This will promote a healthy security culture and encourage everyone to do the same.
Now that we’ve seen how to stay aware let’s move on to some essential cybersecurity tips every organization must follow before diving into cybersecurity tips to follow when working from home.
Basic Cybersecurity Tips
- Use a strong password and a password manager
Passwords are the first line of defense in cyber attacks like account takeover or brute force attacks. However, simple passwords that can be cracked, like a string of numbers or a combination derived from personal information, are susceptible to compromise.
Moreover, a report by LastPass shows that 77% of the respondents are aware of password protection best practices, but 54% keep track of passwords by memorizing them. This makes it hard to set and remember lengthy passwords.
Thus, a password manager can help by generating and recording unique and strong passwords for every account.
- Use anti-virus software
Anti-virus software, as the name implies, aids in detecting and eliminating any virus or malicious software from the system. Furthermore, it safeguards the enterprise against malicious hackers.
- Employ two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication adds an additional blanket of security. This way, even if hackers get hold of credentials, they won’t be able to break into your account without the second layer of security, which could be OTP, fingerprint, or more.
- Encrypt data
Encrypting data ensures its coded in a language that only people with decryption keys can read. This ensures that only authenticated users can access the data.
- Back up often
In events like viruses, malware attacks, or data corruption, backed-up data saves the day. For best results, data backup should be done regularly.
- Always verify transactions
One of the most common scams is where a hacker disguises themself as an HR personnel, contractor, or vendor, asking the finance team to clear an invoice. Or, they could be disguised as a CEO requesting payment clearance. Such emails should always be received with caution and verified by the organization’s higher-ups.
- Look out for phishing scams
Phishing scams can come in various forms, but their primary purpose is to get hold of sensitive company information or monetary reward. For example, via email or SMS, hackers can convenience you to fill out a form, click on a malicious link, or download an attachment. Statistics show that 19.8% of total participants clicked on the phishing email link.
- Deploy firewalls
Firewalls are the first line of defense. They protect your applications and network by monitoring and filtering malicious traffic. While this is the fundamental function of any firewall, IT teams are increasingly using next-generation firewalls to safeguard against novel and emerging threats like zero-day attacks.
The above-mentioned are some of the basic cybersecurity tips everyone in the enterprise must follow. Let’s now take a look at some of the cybersecurity tips when working from home.
Work-From-Home Cybersecurity Tips
It’s no surprise that cyber crimes have skyrocketed after the pandemic. Loosely protected networks, lack of cybersecurity training, and lack of supervision have all resulted in hackers exploiting vulnerabilities. Therefore, these tips will help employees stay safe from internet crimes, regardless of where they work.
- Lock up – physically and virtually
Offices have a regulated and secured workplace – be it physical space or networks. However, replicating the same at home can be cumbersome. But, employees can take some basic measures to secure their devices, like never leaving devices unattended. Additionally, keeping devices password protected and enabling the auto-lock to tighten security. This helps protect data in case the device is stolen or lost.
- Look out for social engineering scams
We’ve seen how steering clear of phishing scams is crucial. But it’s equally important to identify any social engineering tactics where hackers use manipulative techniques to make individuals divulge information.
This is especially important because being away from the office naturally lets guards down, which is a benefit for hackers. For example, if you receive an email requiring urgent payment clearance, it’s always wise to ring the person and verify. Additionally, you can verify if the source of information is legitimate.
- Keep personal and professional devices separate
Statistics show that in 2021, 47% of companies saw a sharp rise in the number of employees and extended workforce using personal devices due to the shift in remote work. It was further identified that 22% had malware in employees’ unattended devices.
Scrolling on social media or ordering food from the same device used for work may seem innocent. But you never know if a device is infected with malware. Moreover, personal emails aren’t secured as well as the company’s enterprise-grade secure emails. Therefore, keeping devices separate will protect not only sensitive company information but also personal information safe too.
- Secure home router
Many people don’t change the default passwords of their routers after installing it. As a result, router credentials may be compromised, allowing hackers to listen to the traffic. This can lead to attacks like man-in-the-middle, where hackers gain access to all personal and sensitive information.
- Before disposing of any device, wipe off the data
If you’re sharing your phone, giving it away, or throwing it, make sure it’s wiped clean of its data. This ensures that your old device does not fall into the wrong hands. Restore your device to its factory setting to ensure no one can recover your data once you no longer have the device in your control.
- Enable remote wipe
Carrying devices in and out of the office, coworking space, or even home may increase the chances of theft or loss of devices. In such cases, you should be able to clean the data remotely. MDM (mobile device management) can be used to clean the device remotely.
- Avoid the use of USBs
Regardless of how convenient USBs are, they can be a hub for malicious threat actors. If the USB is infected with malware, it can easily spread to any device when plugged in and further spread to other connected devices. Thus, avoid storing any company-sensitive data in a random USB and only use authorized USBs availed from the company.
- Religiously follow company security policies
Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility and not just IT teams. Thus, following security policies help companies stay away from breaches and protect their data, employees, and customers.
- Avoid using public WiFi
When you’re traveling or working from a new place, it’s intuitive to use public WiFi. However, public WiFis are the most unreliable and unprotected internet connection. These connections can be spoofed by hackers to creep into your network and steal sensitive information. Therefore, always use a secure VPN connection so your traffic can move through a secured tunnel. And finally, try using your mobile phone’s hotspot connection.
What Can Employers Do?
While we’ve discussed the best tips for employees to follow in the organization, there are certain things that IT staff/employers need to take care of if employees are to follow those tips.
- Implement a zero-trust model
The zero trust model works on the “trust, but verify” approach. As more employees start working from home and other remote locations, it’s critical that access to sensitive data is always verified.
This approach isolates applications and restricts access to the data. This ensures that only authorized personnel can access files, data, or applications. This also ensures that users are always verified before accessing the resource, regardless of where the request comes from.
- Educate about cyber hygiene
Just as washing hands is critical to personal hygiene, measures like setting strong passwords and updating OS regularly are crucial for cyber hygiene. This ensures the systems are always updated and steer clear of malicious data. It’s the responsibility of every company to educate their employees about the importance of cyber hygiene and ensure they follow the same.
- Revoke access of past employees
Employees know the ins and outs of a business. Thus, if a past employee has access to company credentials, it could lead to loss of intellectual property or other sensitive data. In some cases, disgruntled employees can try ruining data to take revenge. Thus, revoking access is the best course of action.
- Make security training and awareness a non-negotiable
Employees aren’t security professionals unless it’s their core job. Therefore, to help and encourage employees to adopt security practices and stay on course with them, it’s crucial that the company conducts regular trying sessions and help employees stay on top of the latest security trends, changes, and allow healthy discussion of any issue that arises.
Cybercrimes are getting more sophisticated by the day and circumventing even the most advanced security measures. Therefore, it’s critical that enterprises invest heavily in employee education since employees are often the weakest link in cybersecurity. Investing in employee coaching will go a long way in ensuring business continuity and protecting confidential and sensitive information from hackers.