Cybersecurity is at the forefront of every business owner’s mind, but many fail to realize that their employees are an essential part of their cybersecurity practices. While firewalls, monitoring systems, and anti-virus software are essential to cybersecurity, the human element plays the most vital role in preventing a breach. Employees need to know how to keep themselves, their company, and their clients safe. Here are 7 things every employee needs to know about cybersecurity.
1. Monitor Your Emails
Although your IT department or IT service provider may have software in place to preemptively filter your emails, it is important to always double check for signs of phishing. According to Verizon’s DBIR 2022 Report, 75% of malware makes its way into organizations through email. The best defense is to know the signs of phishing emails, which include strange email domains, obvious misspellings, impersonations of company personnel, and more.
Always be cautious when clicking links or attachments, especially if you are unfamiliar with the sender. Hovering over the link will allow you to see the destination URL and vet it appropriately. It is always better to be safe than sorry; if you do not trust the site, do not click the link.
2. Stay Up to Date
Your company’s IT team may handle updates but if you notice things are out of date, don’t wait to mention it. Running old or unsupported software and firewalls can expose yourself and your company to a data breach, such as a ransomware attack. Even a firewall that is a few years old can be significantly less effective than an up-to-date version.
Software updates provide the latest security features and help keep your sensitive data secure. If your company partners with an IT provider, the provider will regularly update your software, applications, and security features.
3. Strong Passwords and MFA
Your password is the main key into your network, and a weak password leaves your firm vulnerable. Having a strong password is essential to the security of your accounts and your data. Many companies or IT providers implement strong password policies, which help to ensure the safety of your network. As an employee, following these policies is in not only your best interest, but also in the best interest of your company and clients.
Without a strong password, cybercriminals can access your network, steal your client's data, and interrupt your operations. A general rule of thumb is to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Change your password on a regular basis and never use the same password for multiple accounts.
If someone gains access to your password, multi-factor authentication (MFA) can save the day. MFA provides an added layer of security by requiring a second method of authentication. This may include entering the code from a text message or email, answering a security question, or using an authentication app. Most IT providers will implement these systems for your company.
4. Report Any Issues That May Arise
No one is perfect and mistakes tend to happen. If you click on a suspicious link or accidentally download a sketchy file, it is important to report it immediately. Failing to report the incident will make the issue worse and could leave you, your company, and your clients’ data vulnerable. Fostering a workplace environment that encourages incident reporting may save your company from a worse fate.
5. Pay Attention During Cybersecurity Training
Your company’s IT department or IT partner may offer cybersecurity training to you and your coworkers. While it may just seem like another requirement, cybersecurity training reiterates the best practices and keeps safety top of mind. Take some notes, take the training seriously, and help keep yourself and your company safe.
6. Follow Company Policy
Cybersecurity policies are in place for a reason: for the protection of your company and your clients. Your IT department or IT provider may have restrictions in place regarding certain websites, applications, or files. Being aware of these policies and adhering to them strengthens your cybersecurity.
7. Know How to Safely Work From Home or on the Go
Nowadays, many people work a hybrid schedule. When working from home, it’s important to be even more aware of cybersecurity. A few rules to follow include: protecting your home Wi-Fi network with a strong password, working only on company issued and approved devices; being careful when you share your screen; and only connecting to secure networks.
Public Wi-Fi networks can be accessed by anyone, which puts those who are using the network at risk. Some IT providers offer Desktop as a Service (DaaS), which streams a virtual desktop through a private, secure server, from anywhere on any device. DaaS keeps you safe wherever you connect from, even on a public network.