Top Cybersecurity Practices that Employees Need to Adopt- A company’s most valuable asset is its employees. They can, however, be the company’s most serious security vulnerability. According to a Verizon data breach investigation report, human error and negligence were responsible for 27% of all cyberattacks. Cyberattacks posed a threat not only to large corporations and government agencies, but also to small businesses, according to the report. Small businesses were the target of 70 percent of cyberattacks.
Indeed, by properly educating their employees on online and computer safety, businesses can reduce their vulnerabilities. The best 20 cybersecurity practises that employees should adopt to better protect their companies are listed below.
Avoid unknown emails, links, and pop-ups
Phishing is when hackers send out emails and links that appear to be legitimate in the hopes of gaining access to systems. By clicking on malicious pop-ups and links, you may give an attacker access to your company’s system if you are unaware.
Employees should be cautious while opening attachments and clicking links in emails from unknown senders. Phishers could swiftly obtain access to a company’s computer network system by convincing unsuspecting employees to click on malicious emails and links.
Avoid entering any sensitive or personal information or credentials into unknown emails, pop-ups, or links, as a simple rule of thumb. Nowadays, the majority of attacks are carried out by hackers posing as workers. You may better defend your firm from cyber dangers by double-checking the integrity of any incoming internet communication.
Be cautious with unvetted USB
Employees, or even the organisation itself, obtain USB devices from a variety of sources as USB becomes the most prevalent form of data transfer. All USB drives, no matter where they come from, should be treated as though they contain viruses or malware, according to the Accounting MBA Online programme at St Bonaventure. You should not directly plug USB devices into computers that have access to the company’s computer network, whether they are from the store or for commercial purposes.
A keystroke detector or the USB killer are two examples of malware that could be found on a USB drive. When you plug in the USB drive, it destroys any machine connected to it.
It’s a good idea to have the IT staff double-check any USB devices before they’re used in the office. Because the gadgets could include concealed spyware or viruses that threaten the company’s systems, this is prudent.
Keep your mobile device safe
Mobile phones have evolved into mini-computers as a result of ever-changing technical advancements, and they can now access a wealth of sensitive information. The size of mobile phones and computers is continually dropping as manufacturers strive to make practically everything as light and portable as possible.
This trend makes it even more difficult to maintain track of these devices, and many are lost as a result. If an attacker obtains such a device, he can simply penetrate a company’s network by acting as the device’s employee-owner.
It is critical that you are always aware of the whereabouts of your mobile devices as an employee. Leaving them out in the open puts not just you, but also the company whose system your devices are configured to access, at danger of cyberattacks.
Use strong passwords
It is critical to use clever and strong passwords while accessing your company’s system or your own devices, as obvious as it may seem. Simple passwords are simple to crack. If a hacker is successful in deciphering your passwords, he or she may be able to access your saved credentials and maybe your company’s system.
The sophistication of password bypassing software and applications is increasing all the time. It is consequently more vital than ever to protect your gadgets using well-thought-out and complicated passwords. The following are some other safe password practises:
- Using passwords that are at least ten characters long
- Upper and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, and special characters should all be included in the password.
- It’s also critical to change your passwords on a frequent basis.
- Changing and remembering all previously changed passwords is a time-consuming chore; a password manager application can help.
Using a secure Wi-Fi network
The majority of office wireless networks are well-encrypted and secure. On the other hand, public wi-fi networks are unattended and potentially dangerous. Because of their unrestricted access and lack of security safeguards, they are significant.
When working remotely and having to utilise a public wi-fi network, it’s critical to use Virtual Private Networks to protect your company’s data (VPN). This is a wonderful way to hide and safeguard your remote access to your company’s system. It’s nearly hard for someone to tap into your device and access your remote transactions with your enterprise system because of hidden and untraceable online activities.
On the market, there are a number of effective VPN providers and software that can be bought for little or no cost. It’s worth noting, however, that free software has some limitations in terms of general performance and features.
Ensure data security
The same prudence that we use when sharing highly personal or private information on social media should be applied at work. You could end yourself revealing details that could be used against your firm if you publish information online recklessly. This could be bits of data that hackers put together in order to get access to the company’s system. These bits could also contain confidential firm information that other competitors could exploit.
To mitigate this danger, users can use a variety of security measures. Before uploading videos or photographs of their job on social media, personnel should always double-check them. If they do not take this precaution, they may unintentionally reveal the company’s login credentials to an attacker by posting a photo with a computer screen or whiteboard in the background. As a result, employees should be extremely cautious about the information they post online.
Update your security software
Internet security service providers update their software on a regular basis to keep up with the ever-evolving viruses and cyberthreats. If your firm management issues a directive to update software applications, it is your responsibility as an employee to instantly install the updates on your devices.
Internet security service providers are constantly on the lookout for new cyberthreats in order to keep their customers safe. As a result, they send software update notifications to their users on a regular basis. You could be vulnerable to freshly planned hacks if you aren’t up to date on your security software. This cybersecurity approach extends to any IoT or personal devices used at or for business.
Use a firewall at work or at home to protect yourself
A firewall, like a perimeter fence, prevents illegal access to a network. A firewall is the first line of protection against cybercriminals gaining access to a company’s websites and data storage sites.
Employees might take this security strategy a step further by incorporating firewall protection into their personal networks. Hackers are resourceful and determined. Hacking into home networks that connect to the system network can be used to gain access to a company’s network system. Employees can better safeguard their businesses from fraudsters by installing home network firewalls.
Employees can learn more about the various types of network firewalls by contacting an internet security service provider. The following are the most prevalent types:
Next-generation firewalls, proxy firewalls, network address translation, and stateful multilayer inspection firewalls are all examples of stateful multilayer inspection firewalls.
Inquire with your organisation to see whether they provide firewall installation software.
Keep in touch with your IT department
Most businesses have cybersecurity mitigation teams or IT departments on staff. To better defend themselves and their workplaces from cyber risks, employees must collaborate closely with IT departments.
It’s critical to report any unusual online activity and security warnings from internet protection software to the IT guys as soon as possible so that cyber risks can be mitigated quickly. If you have a problem with any computer activities, such as software upgrades, it is critical that you contact the IT department. IT staff may not be aware of every potential cyber danger posing a security risk to your firm. As a result, they rely on their staff to furnish them with information on any strange internet behaviours. Even if you work remotely, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with IT.
False online IT or tech support is quite easy to fall prey to for personnel in firms without internal IT departments. Take care, as hackers may impersonate online tech help companies and trick you into becoming a phishing victim.
Invest in cybersecurity education and training
The majority of businesses take their time to develop cybersecurity awareness workshops and coaching for their personnel. They do this in order to decrease cyberattacks caused by human mistake or negligence on the part of employees. Employees should be informed of the dangers of cyber-attacks and the risks to sensitive data.
An employee can recognise and sort phishing emails and pop-up webpages by willingly attending such training and workshops. Employees’ ability to identify harmful email attachments and, as a result, avoid data breaches improves as they gain knowledge about cyber dangers.
Employees are also updated on newly created sorts of frauds and ransomware during the educational training sessions. It is an employee’s job to be aware of and understand the company’s cybersecurity rules, as well as to correctly apply them. Being tech-savvy is quite beneficial. When you need to contact the IT department remotely and they need you to access the equipment and supply some information, this knowledge comes in helpful.
Use Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
Multifactor authentication is a security feature that provides an extra layer of security to account access. As with door locks, the more there are, the more difficult it is to break in. As a result, hackers will have to work three times harder to gain access to your data.
Despite its merits, MFA is not used by 90% of Gmail users. According to Verizon’s 2017 data breach report, 81 percent of cyber-attacks are caused by weak or stolen passwords. MFA significantly reduces data breaches caused by password-related flaws.
However, two-factor authentication using common phone numbers is no longer secure; it is therefore preferable to utilise MFA that does not rely on SMSs. Employees play a critical part in ensuring that their company’s cybersecurity is kept to a bare minimum. Employees can verify that their accounts and devices are not utilised to penetrate the company’s network system by using physical MFA, such as Yubico Security Keys.
Be wary of Business Email Compromise (BEC) and CEO attacks
Attackers may also impersonate a company official. Hackers may deceive unwitting employees into divulging important company transactions or information by mimicking the emails of senior authority figures such as the CEO. Employees may be contacted by unscrupulous cybercriminals acting as the CEO, seeking urgent tasks, money transfers, or even gift purchases.
Employees should never reply to such emails to prevent exposing or sharing important corporate information. Instead, double-check the integrity of the address domains when you see a suspicious character in an email address. Hackers clone email address domains in a variety of methods that are difficult to identify right away. Inconspicuous variations, such as the use of 0ffice.com instead of office.com, go unnoticed. Another safeguard against BEC assaults is to physically verify the veracity of such requests. This can be accomplished by calling the appropriate authority.
Back up your data
The best way to keep personal and corporate information safe is to use a backup solution. Ransomware is one of the most serious dangers to data. Ransomware is a harmful programme that is activated when an employee clicks on malicious links or when a machine becomes infected through other computer networks. Once installed, the application holds the data storage places hostage. Unless the victim pays a ransom, data is erased or rendered unavailable. Although corporations are the most prevalent victims of ransomware, the number of private users who have been affected has increased.
Employees can protect the safety of their data by incorporating continual backups of their vital information to avoid such eventualities. You have the option of using a cloud backup service or a physical hard drive backup. The cloud backup produces a duplicate of your data on a server and stores it in a different location. In the event that a system is corrupted or compromised, data can be recovered.
Use anti-malware and anti-virus software
Anti-virus software is a sure-fire way to prevent dangerous viruses from infiltrating your computer network system. These malware and virus prevention measures should be implemented not only in the office, but also on personal devices. These tools should be installed on mobile devices, desktop computers, and laptops to filter out fraudulent websites and messages. The software runs in the background, scanning and removing suspicious files and communications from computer systems, ensuring continuous protection against cyber attacks and viruses. Employees can reduce the amount of malware functioning in the company environment by learning how to use the tools. Employees are less likely to compromise the security of business information while accessing it from their devices as a result of this.
Ensure proper device operations
An employee should ensure correct and compliant device deployment to properly implement the company’s cybersecurity rules and strategies. Cybersecurity measures are effectively implemented by configuring business operating equipment in accordance with IT policies. Employees must deploy connected devices according to manufacturer instructions to prevent thieves from infiltrating company networks via connected devices.
If the IT department does not allow for such services, the FTP and discovery capabilities of devices should be disabled. It’s also a good idea to turn off any device services that aren’t in use right now. As a result, the footprint or sites of vulnerability to attackers is reduced.
Verify the legitimacy of software
Contrary to popular belief, not all software from well-known brands is safe. Carelessly downloading or installing software can expose the computer system and the firm as a whole to a variety of security risks. It’s just as vital to pick the right site to download from as it is to pick the right software brand. With so many websites on the internet where you may download free software, it’s easier than ever to become a victim of dangerous malware masquerading as useful utilities. Many different versions of popular software are now accessible, with the majority of them containing trojans.
An employee should be aware of the company’s download policies and adhere to them to the letter. Downloads should be limited as much as possible to corporate PCs. To ensure that downloaded files and programmes are legitimate, they should be run by an anti-virus and malware tool.
Be aware of social engineering
Rather of exploiting flaws in software and installed operating systems, social engineering takes use of untraceable human error. Cybercriminals use social media platforms to openly acquire information about their victims in order to impersonate them. The attackers use psychological manipulation and deception to persuade their victims to provide vital information. The criminals might acquire the trust of their victims by conducting well-structured research on the facts and background information of the intended victim. Employees unwittingly give over vital information about their firm after malevolent actors provide a seemingly harmless justification.
Employees can simply avoid falling into such psychological traps by being extra cautious and mindful of all cyberinteractions. Any deal or offer that seems too good to be true should be avoided. The majority of them are con artists.
Use a Managed Service Provider (MSP)
Human error is unavoidable, even if it may be avoided. End-user errors, in particular, can be effectively addressed by utilising the services of an MSP. You can locate or remotely erase the memory of your lost device using the services of an MSP that offers Mobile Device Management (MDM) to prevent any data breach through the lost device by using the services of an MSP that offers MDM. Hackers carry out several attacks after obtaining critical information from lost devices. You can manually contact your gadget by getting information on its location and involving the appropriate authorities in such circumstances.
Encrypt your data
Data encryption ensures that no one other than the intended recipient has access to the information. Users can encrypt data in order to convert it into a format that only the person with the decryption key can read. Data encryption is currently one of the most widely utilised data security techniques among businesses. The goal of encrypting data is to protect the privacy of digital information. Employees can use data encryption while sending information to cloud storage. Employees can protect the safety of files during transit by encrypting critical information and files in emails.
Stay away from a cluttered workstation
A cluttered desk, as plain and simple as it may appear, may be a source of numerous small but vital bits of information. During the course of a typical business day, a large amount of paperwork containing critical information may arrive on an employee’s desk. Notes from your boss, scraps of paper with passwords scrawled on them, and invoices are just a few of the important information sources that can be easily overlooked on a cluttered desk. Furthermore, with a cluttered desk, it can be difficult to spot a lost file or paper. As a result, connecting a password breach to a cluttered workstation would take a long time.
Some of the greatest cybersecurity desk management practises are simple to implement. No flash drives or other digital storage devices should be left lying around. Cabinets and drawers should be locked. It is critical that you do not leave confidential documents on your desk for long periods of time. Desk management, when done correctly, can have a significant impact on improving enterprise cybersecurity.
Given the importance of employees’ crucial roles in managing a company’s cybersecurity, it’s critical to ensure that employees are well-versed in the dangers and consequences of cyberthreats. There are a variety of approaches that can be used to reduce the number of cyberattacks (most of which were mentioned above). Because no one is immune to cyber attacks, it is critical that employees and business administrators work together to combat the common threat. Employees can go a long way toward preventing cyber hazards by following simple procedures. Simple careless errors by employees, such as clicking on an unexpected link, can also be the source of a company’s demise. The level of awareness of potential dangers among a company’s employees has a direct impact on its vulnerability.