Cybersecurity starts with your employees – the best line of cybersecurity defence

October 9th 2018

You may have a firewall in place that safeguards much of the data on your network from prying eyes and hackers outside of your organisation, but you should not rest back and think that is all the cybersecurity you need. Protecting your enterprise from malware, like Trojan horses and phishing scams requires a more holistic approach that does not rely on just one or two countermeasures. No matter how many ways you protect your IT systems from attacks that are started outside of your organisation, you must also bear in mind that cybersecurity is of little use unless your staff fully understand their role in protecting them. In fact, in modern businesses cybersecurity defence means focussing on your employees more than anything else. Anyone who has access to your IT equipment is in the front line of safeguarding your enterprise from cyber attacks and data breaches. What do you need to put in place?

Training That Eliminates Bad Habits

Many of your employees won't be that familiar with cybersecurity. That's quite normal, of course, unless you run an IT enterprise. As such, you don't need to invest thousands of euros in upskilling your workforce to make them experts. What you do need, however, is for them to better understand how and what they do impacts on security matters. Basic training sessions can improve your cybersecurity by simply getting your employees to understand how to generate better passwords for themselves and why they should alter them every few months. Indeed, eliminating bad habits like sharing passwords with colleagues or allowing people to share computer terminals without logging out and back in again is essential to maintain the integrity of your network. Even something as simples as ensuring your staff lock their computers when they go to lunch or are working from home offers huge improvements to your overall cybersecurity. By explaining to people why this is the case rather than simply imposing 'rules' about security, employees are much more likely to alter their bad habits in the long-term.

Learning How to Manage Data

Education is also the most important factor when it comes to data management. You might, for example, have sensitive financial information held in your accounts package which can be accessed by some employees but not others. There again, your customer database may hold all sorts of records that need to be kept under a metaphorical lock and key so third parties cannot access them. In such cases, educating your staff about what is allowable and what is not is essential, especially if you offer flexible working practices, such as allowing employees to log on to your system remotely. Employees need to understand what sort of 'work' they can email to themselves to do at home and what would constitute a data breach, for instance. This is particularly the case, of course, if they use cloud-based email services, like Gmail or Hotmail. Ask yourself whether your team really understands the rules surrounding using memory sticks to transfer data around. Whether data is encrypted and password protected on such USB devices may be crucial if you are not to suffer a problematic data breach should a memory stick were to be lost or stolen, for example.

Next Steps

Even with the best cybersecurity systems in place and a better-informed workforce, problems can still occur. Training is essential if your staff are to know what to do if they think there may have been an issue with security or data breaches. All too often, Irish businesses suffer reputational damage because employees fail to act rapidly enough to inform senior managers or their own IT teams of potential problems. Matters which could have been resolved quickly can soon develop if employees don't know what to do. What this really comes down to is providing them with the necessary know-how through cybersecurity training to act promptly and with confidence.

Learn more about how IT Force can help with Cyber Security Awareness Training.

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