The digitalisation of data has brought accessibility to information, the ability to share information with ease, automation of repetitive tasks, and many other benefits.
However, it's not all bright and shining in the internet era. With digitalisation also comes the risk of cyber-attacks.
If you want to keep your company safe from cybercriminals, you need to strengthen your first line of defence – the employees. Human error is the main reason for 95% of cybersecurity breaches. Employees’ lack of understanding of cybersecurity and undermining cyber-attacks can be fatal for the company.
Instead of chasing the latest technology to improve your cybersecurity, you should educate your employees about it. For that purpose, consider the following tips on how to raise awareness of cybersecurity in your employees.
Explain Why Cybersecurity Awareness is Important
To capture and retain the employees’ attention while you educate them on
cybersecurity, you first need to explain why this is relevant. Without clarifying their role in the prevention of cyber-attacks, they can observe this as an irrelevant and boring but obligatory lecture.
Plainly explain how the company’s clients and their (employees’) data can be exposed and misused if they are ignorant about cybersecurity. The employees must know that they play an important role in stopping cyberattacks.
Once you spark their interest in cybersecurity, employees might start reading essays on technology that they can discover here or blog posts on cyber-attacks. However, to evoke that self-learning desire, you need to introduce them to cybersecurity and its relevance.
Make No Exceptions
Educate every single employee. Anyone from the person at the front desk to the
financial analyst can be a target. Therefore, no one should be excluded from the
Even though most people are no strangers to technology, your employees can have different levels of knowledge when it comes to cybersecurity. To make cybersecurity education more digestible, you can opt for microlearning. Present information in smaller, bite-sized segments. In this way, even the employees who know nothing about cybersecurity can learn without getting overwhelmed.
Exemplify Situations that Can Put the Company at Risk
General talk about cybersecurity can seem too vague and fictional to some employees. A much more effective approach is to walk the employees through scenarios of different risky situations.
Many people aren’t even aware of how some seemingly innocent actions can endanger data security. For example, explain how sharing personal information such as memorable dates on social media can help hackers figure out their work password.
The chances are that most employees naively leave the doors open for hackers to step into your “house of data.” Help them understand what falls under “risky behaviour” by listing specific situations that can put the company at risk.
Put Special Emphasis on Email Security, Internet Browsing, and Mobile Devices
Email phishing, social engineering attack, and non-existent mobile security standards are some of the most common paths to cyber-attacks. In fact, 92% of malware is delivered by email, and 1 in 3 organisations admitted to suffering a compromise due to a mobile device.
Considering that answering emails, internet browsing, and the use of a mobile phone for business communication are the basic responsibilities for employees, this is where your main focus should be.
Here are some examples of simple cyber-attract prevention methods that your employees must know about:
● Never share login credentials with anyone
● Use strong passwords and occasionally change your passwords
● Don't save the password on a computer, mobile phone, or email. These places
are reachable to hackers. Instead, write it on a piece of paper
● Don’t access unsecured Wi-Fi networks (e.g. in coffee shops)
● Regularly scan your computer and mobile phone for viruses
● Never send sensitive information to an unknown email sender
● Don’t click on suspicious links
● Don’t download email attachments from unknown email senders
● Don’t download any type of file from fishy websites
Train Employees How to Respond to a Cyber Attack
Prevention is one part of dealing with cyber-attacks and the other one is properly
responding to them. Timely informing the people in charge of cybersecurity of a
potential attack can prevent the damage. In addition, prompt damage control can limit the impact of the attack.
What’s more, when employees know what they need to do in case of a risky situation, they will feel less intimidated by cyber threats. Remember that the purpose of training isn’t to scare the employees but to educate them.
The response methods you can embrace can be:
● Providing an emergency number for reporting unusual or suspicious activities
● Reporting lost mobile devices to superiors in the company
● Creating an internal communication plan if a breach or attack occurs
● Developing damage control strategy
● Informing the employees how to handle the customers and investors if the worst happens
Conduct Practice Attacks
Running mock attacks can help employees “get in shape” for preventing the attack. It less likely that the employees will fall for the same trick twice. Therefore, regularly conduct practice attacks to teach employees how to recognise a potential attack and react promptly if the attack happens.
The practice attacks will also show you the weakest aspects of your cybersecurity. Once you spot the weak links you can make necessary changes to improve that. It’s better to learn from fictional mistakes than from real ones.
Make Cybersecurity Training a Part of Onboarding Process
To make cybersecurity a part of your company culture, turn it into a mandatory part of the onboarding process. Every new employee you welcome into the company should learn about cybersecurity before they get to work.
The IT team should create cybersecurity training sessions about the internal and
external security threats for new hires. Thus, there will be no possibility that an
employee isn’t aware of prevention practices.
Besides the security training, educate employees about the company's compliance policies. The new employees must know and understand the company’s privacy regulations from the very start.
The cyberattacks show no sign of slowing down. On the contrary, the number of data breaches is growing each year. This is why educating employees on cybersecurity is no longer a useful practice – it is a necessity.
Not only will you minimise the chances of an attack, but you'll also give clients another reason to trust you. Be the company that prioritises security. Show that your company puts security and confidentiality above all else.