If you ask your employees about how “secure” they are with their technology, they’ll tell you that they are careful online and protect both their personal information and the company’s data.
And while the intent may be true, most staff members are taking some sort of risks online that can compromise the cybersecurity of your business.
To be safe, you must train your staff in the most current cybersecurity practices available.
Fortunately, many of these practices are simple and not particularly time-consuming. And yet they can be the difference between a security breach and the safe handling of your data.
Here’s what you need to cover in that plan.
1. How to create strong passwords
Protecting your passwords is one of the easiest precautions to take, but management and employees often take shortcuts in this area to save time and to avoid memorizing multiple passwords.
You should train your employees to create more complex passwords that contain letters, numbers, and symbols — but are drastically different than earlier passwords. Most employees stick to similar, more familiar passwords that hackers can easily figure out.
Experts recommend requiring password changes several times a year. And, if possible, you can always turn to password manager software that provides a more manageable way to security track and safeguard accounts.
2. How to avoid regulatory and company data policy violations
Almost every industry has specific rules for handling company data. Your business probably has its own policies in this area. Every new employee should be trained in their data protection responsibilities when they are hired.
At least once a year, employees should take a refresher course on data protection rules.
For instance, anyone working within the healthcare industry must learn how to protect patient information according to HIPAA regulations, especially in online communications. If they don’t, then they risk exposing their company to lawsuits and fines.
3. How to avoid unauthorized software
You must train your employees to never download unauthorized software and then reinforce that message whenever possible. Even seemingly innocuous programs can cause companywide problems if they are infected with a virus or malware.
Because employees may frequently download free software at home, they might not even pause before doing so at work. This simple mistake can compromise your company’s productivity for hours, if not days, and cost your business an alarming amount of money if there’s downtime involved.
Did you know? According to CloudRadar, over half of businesses need more than one hour to recover a crashed application. Costing over $10,000 for every hour of downtime.
4. Use “Live Fire” training exercises
One of the most effective training methods is simulated cybersecurity attacks set up by the IT department or an outside company. Employees are expected to react to these attacks in real-time, and then afterward, they’ll receive coaching on how to avoid any mistakes they might make during the drill.
For instance, some companies create simulated phishing attacks (malicious emails) to see how many people will click on them.
The IT department can take the results and help the staff identify phishing expeditions from legitimate communications. This can be extremely valuable since most people learn better from experience than from lectures or handouts.
5. Use modern training methods
Experts recommend making cybersecurity training positive instead of negative.
Instead of frightening employees with adverse consequences for making online security mistakes, try rewarding employees who follow best practices.
For instance, award employees who do not fall for “live fire” phishing attacks with modest prizes. Gift certificates or several hours of comp time are excellent incentives that don’t cost your company much but may encourage more cyber diligence.
In another example, high school students who played the computer game “Security Empire” improved their cybersecurity awareness.
During the game, players become business owners. They suffer if they make security mistakes but advance if they’re consistently cyber aware. This game-based training can also work for adult staffers — it’s definitely a more engaging activity than another boring cybersecurity meeting that’s complete with a PowerPoint presentation.
Getting cybersecurity help from the experts
Engaging with a third-party expert to help protect your sensitive data and suggest security improvements is a great idea because it helps take the burden of security training off of you. Cybersecurity experts, like the team at Affinity IT, can help you train your team, build and manage a more secure business. Want to know more about how we can help you? Contact us directly with any questions. We’d love to help.