Cybersecurity is now a big issue for any business. With how cybercrimes are significantly on the rise in recent years, all organizations—big and small—are at more risk of data breaches, DDoS attacks, and various other cybersecurity attack vectors.
One concerning thing, however, is the fact that human error remains the biggest cause of successful data breaches and cybersecurity attacks: one employee might fall into a social engineering/phishing attack and ends up compromising the company’s database. Cybercriminals can gain access to an employee’s account using a weak password, compromising the network’s admin account, and so on.
This is why elevating IT security in the workplace and building a comprehensive cybersecurity culture is very important, and here are some tips on how employers can help elevate IT security in your company.
1. Establishing Culture and Policies
It’s very important to establish a company-wide policy and cybersecurity culture as a foundation and central resource of knowledge for your employees. Make sure to set clear policies regarding how to handle sensitive data.
Sensitive data here refers to any information that can be used by perpetrators to hurt your business, whether it’s users’ financial information or information about vulnerabilities in your system. Make sure that sensitive information is only available for authorized users. Information Security is not only about securing information from unauthorized access. Information Security is basically the practice of preventing unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, inspection, recording or destruction of information.
Create comprehensive policies regarding file sharing, email forwarding, and usage of public Wi-Fi, among others. At the same time, block incoming emails and files from unknown senders, and block emails and files containing sensitive information from reaching unauthorized employees.
2. Investing In Security Infrastructure
A proper cybersecurity culture can’t start unless you already have a functional IT security infrastructure in place. So, start by investing in the right security solutions so you can train your employees to make the most of them.
Since most cybersecurity threats today are performed by bots and automated software, having an advanced bot management solution is a must today. Malicious bots are getting more advanced at mimicking legitimate human users, utilizing A.I. technologies to bypass traditional defensive measures. An A.I.-driven bot management solution is also preferred.
The earlier you invest in your long-term cybersecurity infrastructure, the more time you’ll have to familiarize your team and build your cybersecurity culture around this infrastructure.
3. Strong and Unique Passwords For All
Make the practice of using a strong password mandatory for all employees, especially for their office-related accounts. A strong password should include a combination of uppercase and lowercase characters, numbers, and symbols. Also, make sure the password is at least 10 to 15 characters long to prevent brute force attacks.
Also, require users to use unique passwords for each account, and change their passwords regularly. Of course, longer passwords are harder to remember, and if they have to use different passwords for each account, this may discourage them. To tackle this issue you can encourage them to use a password manager, many of them are free and reliable.
4. 2-Factor Authentication
2-factor authentication (2FA), or also called multi-factor authentication (MFA) is essentially asking users to provide additional information besides the username-password pairing to access their account. This information can be:
- Something they are, like the fingerprint, iris/retina scan, face ID, and so on.
- Something they have, a USB dongle, etc.
- Something they know, a confirmation code sent over SMS/email, PIN, etc.
With 2FA in place, even when their credentials are compromised, the attacker won’t be able to access the account.
When implementing 2FA, make sure that the ‘factors’ you use for verification are easily accessible for your users and stakeholders, while being unique enough for each employee.
5. Regular Cybersecurity Training
If you really want to elevate your employees’ awareness and knowledge in defending against cyberattacks, then effective education and training are a must.
All employees at every level should ideally receive basic cybersecurity training that covers common cybersecurity threats that are the most threatening for your organization. Regularly refresh and update the training to include the latest trends and changes.
Your security awareness training should include:
- Educating employees on common cybersecurity threats
- Raise awareness of the importance of sensitive data in the organization
- Training all employees about cybersecurity best practices
- Provide comprehensive information on how to detect and defend against common cybersecurity attack vectors like social engineering attacks, phishing, and so on
6. VPN over Public Network
Data coming in and out of the organization’s network is often the most vulnerable, making it a common target for cybercriminals.
Many employees have the habit of accessing the organization’s network (i.e. corporate email) through unsecured public Wi-Fi, especially during business travel. This is actually a very dangerous practice and can compromise the company’s network and server in the event of account takeover and other attack vectors.
Using a VPN can be an easy and affordable solution for this issue. VPN (Virtual Private Network) can encrypt all data coming in and out of the network, so hackers won’t be able to access it.
7. Secure Browsing Practice
Browsing habit plays a very significant role in any network security, so make sure to educate your employees at your organization on secure browsing best practices, including:
- Ensuring browsers are always up-to-date, and make sure all employees are using reputable browsers
- Always run anti-virus software before downloading anything
- Turn on pop-up/ad blocker
- Check email senders thoroughly before clicking any links or downloading attachments
- Never share any sensitive information and personally identifiable information (i.e. credit card number) over email and phone call
- Verify URL when entering sensitive information in forms
Regularly training and educating your employees regarding cybersecurity best practices and knowledge are very important. After all, just like the old saying goes, your organization’s security is just as strong as the least knowledgeable employee. Building a cybersecurity culture takes time, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to start building your culture.
Also, remember that cybersecurity threats are always evolving, and so your organization’s IT security must also evolve and be constantly updated to stay on top of the persistent cybercriminals that are always on the lookout for your organization’s vulnerabilities.
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Review Workplace IT Security: Key Tips For Employers To Elevate It.