As time goes on, our society becomes increasingly reliant on technology. This is especially true in the workforce, as companies conduct business with clients and partners all over the world. There are countless benefits that come along with our growing use of technology. But for every benefit, you’ll find another risk to watch out for.
Cybercrimes are increasing at an astounding rate. Every time IT administrators think they have a handle on their company’s digital safety, cybercriminals come up with new ways to corrupt systems and steal your information.
Cyberattacks can be devastating, resulting in the loss of data, revenue, and reputation. That’s why it’s now more important than ever to ensure your business has the proper safeguards in place, especially if you handle sensitive client information.
We’ve compiled a list of the four best ways your employees can protect your corporation against data breaches and aid your organization’s cyber resilience strategy. However, before getting into those practices, let’s take a look at what kind of threats you’re up against.
Common Types of Cyberattacks
The term ‘cybercrime’, or ‘cyberattack’, refers to any type of attack on your computer network or systems. This can affect the devices themselves (hardware, such as laptops or desktop computers) or data that lives in the Cloud.
These online threats take many forms, and they can target both individuals and organizations. Here are some of the most common types of cyberattacks that you may encounter as a user of technology.
The term ‘malware’ comes from the phrase ‘malicious software’. This is a broad category that includes any type of code that interferes with a computer’s normal activity. There are many types of malware, including:
Despite the variety, the goal of malware is often the same: to obtain personal information or interfere with the device itself.
Technically, ransomware is a type of malware. However, because it’s so prevalent, ransomware easily deserves its own category in the grand scheme of cybercrimes.
In a ransomware attack, the criminal steals or encrypts an entity’s information and then demands a ransom payment in order to get that information back. These attacks are commonly carried out against large organizations, as criminals expect bigger organizations to have the funds needed to pay a ransom.
When a cybercriminal hacks a device or network, they gain unauthorized access and take control of that environment. The hacker can then steal whatever data they are after, whether it’s a customer’s banking information or sensitive government intelligence.
In a phishing attack, the cybercriminal sends a fraudulent message—usually an email—that is disguised as a legitimate request for sensitive information. Examples of phishing attempts may include false requests from your ‘bank’ to respond with your login information or a fake email from ‘HR’ asking you to send a list of all work-related passwords. Some phishing attempts also try to get users to click a link that will deploy malicious software on their network.
4 Ways Employees Can Protect Company Data
It can be scary to think of all the cyber threats surrounding your company’s network. The good news is that there are some simple steps that you and your employees can take to better secure your devices and strengthen your company’s cyber resilience.
Cybersecurity shouldn’t depend entirely on your IT department. Although IT administrators are the experts in this area, protecting your company’s data is the responsibility of every single employee, from the CEO to the interns.
Here are some best practices that all employees should utilize to safeguard your organization’s information.
Keep Information on a Need-to-Know Basis
Your employees should understand that not everyone needs to know everything that happens in a business. In fact, the fewer people who have access to sensitive information, the safer your business’s data will be.
Encourage employees to operate on a need-to-know basis when it comes to delegating access to certain files or accounts. Employees who don’t deal with accounting or purchasing don’t really need access to your company’s financial data, for example.
By carefully controlling who has access to what within your network, you can significantly cut back on the likelihood of a data breach taking place.
Implement Best Practices for Passwords
How many of your employees use the same password for multiple accounts? Worse yet, how many of them change those passwords on a regular basis? If your organization is not well-versed in best practices for password management, the answers probably look pretty grim.
Here are some best practices for password security that everyone should implement, both in their professional and personal lives:
- Use unique passwords for each account.
- Do not use personal information (like your birth year or pet’s name) in your passwords.
- Change your passwords frequently (your IT administrator can mandate that employees update their passwords on a regular basis).
- Never share your passwords with other employees.
- Do not write your passwords on a piece of paper that could be misplaced.
- Utilize multi-factor authentication (MFA).
- Utilize a password manager.
By being careful and thoughtful about the passwords they use, your employees can help to protect email data and prevent cyberattacks.
Run Software Updates and Data Backups Regularly
If you don’t update your operating systems’ software on a regular basis, you may miss important patch updates that are crucial to cybersecurity. This can be problematic because many employees might be tempted to hit ‘ignore’ when prompted to update their computer’s software. You can combat this by conducting IT-mandated updates on a regular basis.
Something else your employees should be encouraged to do on a regular basis is to back up their data. If your company’s important information is saved elsewhere, a ransomware attack will be less devastating.
Conduct Annual Cybersecurity Training
Knowledge is the best safeguard against cybercrimes. The more your employees know about the different types of attacks that are out there, the better equipped they’ll be to recognize and report them.
You can educate your employees by conducting regular cybersecurity training sessions. Due to the ever-changing nature of cyber threats, this training should happen at least once a year, if not more often.
A good way to guarantee the quality of your cybersecurity training is to invest in a course that is fully accredited. This means that it has met the standards of the framework provider and will deliver a high standard of training. Providers like Good e-Learning also offer a variety of training assets to keep things interesting and can even create bespoke corporate training programs for individual companies.
Protect Your Data and Devices
Despite the increasing number of cyber threats that loom, the reality is that conducting business offline is not an option. Instead of living in constant fear of falling victim to a cyberattack, we encourage you to be proactive about it.
By employing quality cybersecurity tools and educating your employees on how to spot and report attempted attacks, you can rest assured knowing you are doing everything in your power to prevent devastating data breaches.