Online businesses have grown tremendously in the 21st century, which means that most companies manage their data through online platforms. However, this has been a challenge because cybersecurity threats are rising steadily. Unauthorized people are getting their hands on companies’ classified data.
The burning question is, who is responsible for cybersecurity threats? As an employer, you are probably thinking of your competitors and hackers. What if you discovered that your employees might be your biggest cybersecurity threat? Statistics show that employees cause 93 percent of all data breaches. Read more to know how your employees might be subconsciously responsible.
1. Effective Password Management
Reports have shown that stolen passwords cause 63 percent of the breaching of data in companies. Most people use birthdays, anniversaries, or any special dates as a password, but it’s easy for an outsider to guess such a password. If you have an employee with such a password, you are at high risk of cybersecurity threats.
You should train your employees on effective password management. The computers in the company should have a requirement where the password has to have uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols to ensure that they create strong passwords.
Effective password management also includes changing the password every two to three months. Your employees should not use the same password for different sites as this also plays a significant role in cybersecurity threats.
2. Using Wi-Fi Networks
Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks makes it easy for cybercriminals to access your business data. Employees work at coffee shops, at home, or when traveling using Wi-Fi networks. It saves on workload, but the data in your employees’ device will be accessed by any other person who is connected to the network.
You should train your employees on how to use a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN will protect any data being received and sent from the device. Other than using a VPN, you can purchase portable mobile wireless routers for your employees, so that they do not need to connect to public Wi-Fi.
Other than using Wi-Fi networks, you should warn your employees about connecting other people’s USBs to their devices. Hackers can also access the information using a USB. They should have their own USBs for charging or transferring data.
3. Ignoring Suspicious Activities
Another way that your employees can be your biggest cybersecurity threat is through ignoring suspicious activities. Employees read emails throughout the day. Therefore, at times, they access phishing emails. These are emails that trick employees into providing information.
A phishing email can be so convincing to click that the employee will not even recognize any suspicious activity. Hackers usually send phishing emails that contain malware. Therefore, you should train your employees on recognizing suspicious activity on any email.
If an employee ignores this activity and goes on to click the link, you will lose your data to the wrong hands. The IT department in your company should be friendly, and they should assure the non-IT employees that there is no stupid question. The employees should feel free to show the IT department any unusual activity on their emails. This will help you significantly in protecting your data from cybercriminals.
4. The Inside Job
Not everyone who you employ wants your business to grow. Some cybersecurity threats are caused by an inside woman or man who came to your company with malicious intentions. Therefore, you should limit the information that employees have their hands on.
For example, an employee who works at the customer service department should only have access to the phone numbers and emails of clients to confirm their purchase. Such an employee should not have access to the IT department passwords or the credit card numbers of the clients.
Also, when an employee leaves the company, their access to information should be stopped with immediate effect. This also applies during the delegation of duties. There is a need to restrict employees from accessing all data in relevant departments.
5. Sharing Data by Accident
Almost all the reasons mentioned above are caused by human error. Most of the time, employees do not share the information intentionally. They can share confidential data by accident, and then realize when it is too late. You have to prepare for that through educating your employees.
Employees have a lot of work which involves multi-tasking, meaning that they can send data by accident. You should train them on double-checking any email or message before hitting the send button. Also, it is crucial for employees to name the folders and files with their specific titles. This will ensure that they do not attach the wrong document when sending.
The cybersecurity threat is a topic that scares most employers. A slight mistake can cripple your business. However, if you take your employees through impactful training to avoid the above mistakes, you will be safe.
Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT. Learn more at ReciprocityLabs.com.