Whether through device loss, social engineering tactics, phishing, or anything in between, your technology is constantly at risk of being breached. Surprisingly, your greatest cybersecurity vulnerability isn’t your hardware or software – it’s your people.
If you want to boost your cybersecurity defenses and minimize the risk of a network intrusion, you need to bolster your first line of defense against external threats. Specifically, that includes training your employees on cybersecurity awareness.
What Is Cybersecurity Awareness?
It’s simple: cybersecurity awareness is being mindful of present cyber threats in your daily life. As you can imagine, even minor cybersecurity breaches come with a sizeable price tag. Considering the ever-rising number of cyberattacks each year, cybersecurity awareness is undoubtedly nothing to neglect.
Ultimately, defending against cyber threats comes down to knowing what you’re up against. By increasing ongoing security awareness training, you’ll simultaneously educate your employees on how to identify and combat modern threats, as well as instill best practices for staying security-savvy.
Cybersecurity Awareness Topics and Best Practices
As there are so many potential weak spots hackers can exploit, complete cybersecurity may seem unattainable. Fortunately, you can build a formidable wall to ward off cyberattacks by arming your employees with training in the proper areas. So, what topics do your employees need training in to be adequately equipped?
For starters, password length is important – aim for 12-16 characters if the system supports it. Along that vein, you should opt for long passphrases rather than single words. That way, you’ll be able to remember it easily, but it will be impossible for hackers to guess. For example, the phrase “horse identify power hammer” would make a great password. You can craft a visual image of it in your mind, so you won’t have trouble remembering it, but no brute force system will ever guess it – a win-win!
Also, make sure all your passwords are unique from one another. Don’t re-use your work password for your bank or your bank password for your Twitter; if they’re all the same, a hack on one becomes a hack on them all.
Because remembering dozens of unique passwords is difficult (if even possible), use the password manager supported by your organization. If a specific password manager isn’t promoted within your organization, find out the policy on using a personal password manager for organization passwords. Password managers are great tools to keep your data safe and secure!
We’ll keep it short and sweet: use multi-factor authentication everywhere, even if it’s not explicitly required. This feature can provide extra layers of security that protect the integrity of all your accounts, with just one added login step.
Phishing/Social Media Attacks
As an overarching theme, never accept an email as the only source for an information or financial request. For instance, if someone emails you asking for a copy of your W2s or for a wire transfer, be sure to get confirmation through some other source (e.g., walking by their office or calling them on the phone on a number in your directory). Leaders, make this “Identity Validation” a requirement at your organization!
Likewise, be wary of requests that are flagged as “urgent” – these may be sent with bad intentions, hoping you’ll be lax in your security postures because they claim the request is an emergency. At the end of the day, a culture of “be secure” should be fostered over one of “immediate response,” so make sure all parties (including executives) know to follow the security guidelines.
With the increase in hybrid work models, our personal and work lives are intermingling. Employees need to be especially aware of your organization’s policies regarding doing personal stuff on a work computer and doing work stuff on a personal computer.
In general, you want to keep them separate. If your personal computer obtains a virus and you connect that computer to the work VPN, you could spread that virus to the network. Similarly, if you download personal software (with a virus) on your work computer, you could make your company susceptible to a breach.
Suspicious Activity Radar
Here’s the gist: if you think an email looks a little suspicious, you’re probably right! Treat any questionable-looking email as dangerous.
If your computer seems to be behaving oddly (e.g., frequent pop-up windows, frequent crashes, unusually slow computer performance), you may have exposed it to a virus. Don’t wait for things to worsen – notify IT ASAP and let them make the determination.
A Culture of Security
Paired with baseline policies, email protection, anti-ransomware software, and a few other layers of defense, Cybersecurity Awareness Training is an essential part of protecting your organization. By informing your staff of their responsibilities and making them aware of modern dangers, you can adequately prepare them to identify threats early and reduce the likelihood of a successful cyberattack.
While cybersecurity awareness is the first step, two additional steps must be followed for this to be effective. First, leaders must create and promote a culture of security, changing the collective attitudes and behaviors toward cybersecurity. Following this, employees must willingly embrace and proactively use these learned practices (both professionally and personally).
Fortunately, designDATA offers all the quality content and tools you need to solidify your cyber defense strategy and integrate it as part of your culture. Our cybersecurity services cover all the bases to find the cybersecurity solutions that are the right fit. Not sure what you need? Book a cybersecurity consultation with our experts!