Hollywood would have us believe that cyberattacks are elaborately planned and use expensive, sophisticated tools developed by James Bond’s tech guru, Q. Yet in real life, most hacks are nothing like that. The cybercriminals often simply fool a human to gain access.
Phishing remains a primary way to attack. A scammer sends an email that looks legitimate, and an unsuspecting victim clicks on a malicious link. They might download malware or end up on a webpage that looks credible but is set up to gather their personal data.
Social engineering targets the human desire to help. A hacker might drop an infected thumb drive in the office parking lot of the target business – they need only one well-intentioned person to pick it up and plug it into the office system – or they call, saying they represent a contractor and urgently need important credentials.
Your cybersecurity is only as strong as its weakest link. In many cases, your employees are that weakest link. They are busy working hard, so they don’t stop to question things, or they can be too trusting. A supply-chain attack compromises your vendor. The hackers change the details on the vendor’s invoice so that the money ends up in their bank account. Your people don’t notice, because they usually trust the vendor.
Educate Employees about Their Cybersecurity Role
Every business needs to educate employees about the part they play in cybersecurity. They need to care, but they may feel that it’s not their concern. They’ll expect IT or someone else at work to handle malware and prevent cyberattacks, but each individual has a role.
It can help to put the potential threat in personal terms. Help them to understand that they are not only protecting work data on the network, and it’s not just client personal details: it’s their names, addresses, and tax numbers, too. Plus, it’s how much they get paid, healthcare records, resumes, and more, which is exactly the kind of information hackers exploit in identity theft. That one hack can have a huge ripple effect.
There’s also the argument that if your business suffers a breach or downtime, everyone could be out of the job. Particularly bad data breaches or hacks can destroy a business. Of course, the individual didn’t mean to do anything wrong, but their ill-advised action costs your company, which can mean downtime, lost productivity, damaged brand reputation, compliance issues, and more. Recovery is difficult.
Cybersecurity Is an Ongoing Concern
It’s also important that you don’t treat cybersecurity training as a one-off. Running through a list of “do nots” in employee onboarding and then moving on is not going to work. Build cybersecurity literacy into your workplace culture.
Remind employees about strong passwords and thinking twice before sharing any sensitive data. Require them to use protected networks for remote access and to encrypt files.
Your business can also show the importance of employees taking responsibility by:
- discussing cybersecurity in hiring processes;
- outlining policies and procedures in the handbook;
- reminding employees to regularly update and upgrade technology;
- monitoring applications downloaded onto work devices;
- having a clear policy for people bringing in their own devices;
- adding multi-factor authentication to remote access.
Ransomware threats are on the rise globally, cybercrime gangs are targeting any weakness, regardless of business size or industry. Enlist your employees in the ongoing fight against hackers.