HACKING

5 Tips for Employee Cyber-Security Awareness

How do you think cyber-security affect your business?

If you are in the corporate world or handling a small digital business, it is vital to maintain cyber-security; otherwise, it can cause your company tremendous damage. Your employees are your first line of defense, and you must train them against cyber-attacks.

But it could be tiring to draft a training manual from scratch.

Don’t worry; we are here to help you better understand the basics of cyber-attacks and how to deal with them.

So without any further raving, let’s get started.

1. What is Phishing?

Phishing is the most common type of cyber-attack which uses social engineering tactics to retrieve information from people.

If your employees are not aware of such social engineering techniques, then they can easily fall for a trap and might even compromise your sensitive data.

Phishing practices specific to target businesses may differ a little from mainstream ones. Usually, phishing emails contain a few types of standard templates, such as:

  • Charity donation: You might receive a request for charity in the name of some organization to help victims.
  • Lottery winning: You suddenly win a lottery from an unknown source. The winning amount is always unbelievably huge.
  • Quirky links: You receive an email having some engaging content, and you click on a malicious link.

All of the above examples are commonly used phishing practices from previous years. In a phishing attempt, the cybercriminals try to create emails that look like authentic communication. Such emails often come disguised as something an employee might be expecting, like a notice from HR, a password reset email, or a report inquiry from the CEO. Employees might reply to such mails in a hurry and compromise confidential data.

Cybercriminals take extra effort to create phishing emails for corporate attacks. Still, with proper training, identifying fake emails can be easy. Keep the following points in mind:

  • Name check: Replying to an unknown email is always dangerous. Apart from that, a company would never ask for sensitive information like username and passwords, account details, and personal information over an email. Secondly, a cybercriminal’s email ID would be different from the actual email ID of the company’s authoritative person. Train your employees to check the email ID before replying with valuable information.
  • Spelling and Grammar: A reputed company never let any grammar mistake in their copy. Ask your employees to look for grammatical errors to check if an email is genuine or not, especially if the sender is requesting important information. Spelling mistakes and grammar issues are an absolute red flag if the source looks credible.
  • Intimidation tactics: Any email that starts with “Urgent action required” or “Your account has been compromised” and requires you to click on a particular link should be avoided. Such intimidation tactics are an attempt to make you give up your credentials.
  • Links: You should never click on links from unknown sources. Tell your employees to hover above a hyperlink (don’t click) and see if the URL looks suspicious.
  • Antimalware programs: If you have valuable information stored in your device and don’t use a robust antimalware app, then you are inviting cybercriminals to your home. Cybercriminals attack high-profit targets, and keeping your device secure is essential. You can try using portable antivirus software.
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2. Password Management

According to research conducted by OneLogin in 2017, less than 31 percent of IT employees need to reset their passwords monthly. Password management plays a significant role in ensuring cybersecurity.

It would help if you taught your employees to use strong passwords. According to research conducted by Trace Security, 81 percent of data thefts connect directly to weak passwords. You can help your employees make strong passwords by the below points:

  • Use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Choose something only you can remember.
  • Avoid using your personal information like name, pet names, birth date, and names of family members.
  • Never share your passwords.
  • Use a unique password for every device.
  • Regularly change your password.

You can also try some password management tools like LastPass. You can use these apps for creating strong passwords and auto-filling them when required with a single password.

3. Using Original Software

When you are running a business, it is crucial to keep your information as private as possible. Untrustworthy software or downloading software from suspicious sources can cause severe damage. Cybercriminals use frequently used apps to bundle malware and put them for free download online. Any innocent-looking software like games or utility tools can contain spyware, ransomware, or other malicious code.

Therefore it is essential to use genuine software on company devices and always keep them up to date. You can also lock down company devices for any unauthorized installation.

4. Using Multi-factor Authentication

You can make it hard for a hacker to access your system by using multi-factor authentication. Once a hacker gain access to any of your employees’ account, he can trace it back to any other linked account. Most people use the same password for all of their accounts, which makes it easier for a hacker to gain access to the system.

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By using multi-factor authentication, you create an additional security layer over your account. For example, your Gmail account won’t open unless you allow it from your smartphone. Therefore a hacker won’t be able to access your account unless he also has access to your phone.

An even better way is to use physical MFA. You can order security keys for your employees without which system login would be impossible. Big companies like Google and Amazon follow this technique to ensure security.

You can program a security key with your employees’ fingerprint as a password. After complete setup, your employee can access the system only after putting the security key in a USB port. Apart from that, the system will lock down if someone removes the key. It ensures no one other than the particular employee can have access to the data on the computer.

5. Educate Your Employees

Are we the only ones who read all the terms and conditions carefully, we hope not.

Your employees need to know all your security policies like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and AEU (Acceptable Electronic Use). Create one now if you don’t already have it.

Teach your employees about devices they can and can’t bring in the company, tell them proper reasons behind strict rules. This way, they won’t feel controlled.

If employees recognize the potential consequence of a cyber-attack, it can further encourage better cybersecurity awareness disciplines. Try conducting cybersecurity awareness meetings at least once every six months. Collaborate with your IT team and create a proper structure to explain cybersecurity to your employees.

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The best way to teach your employees is by giving them examples. Use real-life case studies to make them realize the dangers of cyberattacks.

Final Verdict

Cybersecurity awareness is not only critical in business but also personal life. Empowering your employees with proper knowledge can save you a fortune in case of an unlawful attempt. Apart from that, it will also benefit them in their personal life. The number of efforts a hacker needs to perform to hack your system is directly proportional to your efforts in keeping it secure.

We suggest you take out a reasonable amount of funds and put them in maintaining your company’s cybersecurity system. It includes buying antivirus programs and other necessary software, employee training, live attack simulation (to test your employees’ capabilities), and some more uncountable small expenses.

Think it as an investment; you won’t be able to see the visual outcome, but the ROI will be astonishing.

About the author

Venkatesan Prabu

Venkatesan Prabu

Wikitechy Founder, Author, International Speaker, and Job Consultant. My role as the CEO of Wikitechy, I help businesses build their next generation digital platforms and help with their product innovation and growth strategy. I'm a frequent speaker at tech conferences and events.

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