Cyber security has become a necessity for businesses of all sizes as their systems and...
Employees are the backbone of every organisation, ensuring that goals and objectives are met and everything is running smoothly. However, humans continue to be the weakest link in the chain when it comes to an organisation’s information security. Employees who take cybersecurity requirements lightly can negatively impact an organisation. Organisations can greatly reduce this vulnerability by educating employees on information security best practices, below are the top cybersecurity best practices for employees to adopt so that their organisation can stay safe and secure from cyber attacks and data breaches.
Learn to recognise & avoid phishing attacks
Phishing is a social engineering tactic that consists of an attacker sending an employee a fraudulent message via email, instant message or text message, in the hope that the unaware employee will click a link that downloads malware onto their system, freezes the system as part of a ransomware attack or reveals sensitive information of the organisation.
Employees need to do take extra care when handling suspicious emails, avoid clicking on unknown links or pop-ups and open attachments. Organisations need to train their employees on common red flags so that they can easily recognise phishing attempts. Running phishing campaign simulations can help test an employee’s ability to avoid attacks and the effectiveness of an organisation’s security training methods. A best practice to follow is to avoid entering any personal or company information in response to an email, pop-up webpage, or any other form of communication you didn’t initiate.
Use complex passwords and multi-factor authentication
The simplest way to ensure your organisation is cyber secure, is to make sure employee passwords are complex and unique, i.e. made out of a combination of upper and lower case alphabets, numbers and symbols. If your employees use simple passwords that are easy to remember, the chances that a malicious actor is able to figure them out is extremely high, giving them access to company critical infrastructure and sensitive information.
Along with complex passwords, employees should enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible, this adds an additional layer of protection by asking you to take at least one extra step — such as providing a temporary code that is sent to your smartphone — to log in. Therefore, even if a password is compromised, criminals will need access to an additional factor to gain access. There are a number of password management tools employees can use to help stay secure.
Along with the above best practices, organisations should implement strict policies that guarantee that passwords are changed regularly and are not shared amongst employees. All these activities can help enhance an organisation's cyber security.
Utilising secure wi-fi networks
Making sure your office wi-fi network is secure and encrypted is an easy enough practice to implement, however, given the increase in remote work arrangements, organisations need to equip their employees with the right tools to keep their information secure. Public wifi networks pose a big risk to information security, due to their open access and absence of vital security features.
Organisations can protect their employees and their own information security by making sure that employees utilise virtual private networks or VPNs in short when accessing their devices on a public wifi network. VPNs enable hidden and untraceable online activity, greatly reducing the chances of anyone gaining access to your company’s systems or network.
Practice data encryption and protection
Organisations need to ensure that their employees do not divulge any sensitive information to the public and take extra precautions when it comes to sharing or communicating sensitive information online. In the same way that individuals avoid sharing their own personally identifiable information like their credit card details when answering an unsolicited email, phone call, or text message, It is important to exercise the same caution at the workplace.
Hackers are ingenious in their methods of deception and can pose as authoritative figures like government officials or upper management to trick employees into divulging sensitive information, such as login credentials. Therefore, employees need to take extreme caution when communicating sensitive information, by double-checking the legitimacy of requests and encrypting data before sending it, so that the data can only be accessed by the intended receiver with the help of a decryption key.
Keep software up to date and install the latest patches on all devices.
Cyber security threats are constantly evolving, with new vulnerabilities being discovered every day. To match this, organisations need to ensure that their employees are keeping their security software, web browsers, and operating systems updated with the latest protections. Antivirus and anti-malware programs are updated on a frequent basis to respond to new cyber threats. Along with company devices, employees need to also make sure the personal devices that they use to access the company network are up to date with the latest security patches installed.
Take security training & awareness programs seriously
Training and awareness programs shouldn’t be treated like an afterthought or simply a compliance requirement as part of onboarding. The responsibility of cyber security doesn’t solely lie with the IT department or Information security team, It is the responsibility of an employee to know and understand their organisation’s cybersecurity policies and accurately implement them. By engaging with all of the security awareness and training material provided by an organisation, employees can gain knowledge about cyber threats and improve their own ability to successfully identify dangerous email attachments and as a result, prevent data breaches.
Practice keeping a secure backup of all critical data
A backup solution is the best measure to keep personal and business information safe. One of the biggest threats to data is ransomware. Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts a victim’s files, systems or networks. A ransomware attack can bring a business to its knees with an attacker holding their systems hostage until the ransom has been paid.
Ransomware attacks can lead to a permanent loss of data, for this reason, it is crucial that employees maintain regular backups of their critical information via a cloud backup solution or the physical hard drive backup. The cloud backup creates a copy of your data on a server and hosts it in another separate location. Physical backups need to be stored in a safe and secure place and need to be encrypted, employees need to take extra precautions and avoid leaving storage devices lying around in the open. By utilising these methods data can, therefore, be restored in case an employee’s systems are corrupted or hacked.
How can StickmanCyber help?
Employees play a vital role in the information security of an organisation, by implementing the above cybersecurity best practices, employees can ensure that they are doing their part when it comes to maintaining a high level of cyber security.
Let our team of cybersecurity experts help you design & launch effective cybersecurity training programs for your employees. Contact StickmanCyber today to learn more about our Employee Training services.