As the saying goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link, and in the case of cybersecurity, your weakest link is humans.
With the new security challenges brought about by remote work, humans have become more of a cyber risk than ever. As of 2022, 88% of data breaches are caused by human error. Things such as a lack of cybersecurity training, poor password hygiene, the use of unreliable networks, and more, make businesses highly susceptible to cyber-attacks.
To improve resilience towards cyber-attacks and prevent damage to the company and its employees, you must incorporate the necessary strategies to reduce human error.
Breaches Affect Employees & the Company
Data breaches are never fun. They’re costly, a nuisance to deal with, and affect everyone involved.
As soon as a breach is discovered, a great deal of time, money, and energy are spent recovering from the breach and preventing it from recurring. Recent reports show that, on average, a data breach costs a company $4.24 million. For businesses that qualify, costs can be minimized with cyber liability insurance. However, breaches still slow down production and tarnish a business’s reputation, which can make it hard for them to regain the trust of their customers. In some cases, companies can even be held liable for stolen data, causing a major PR crisis and long-term repercussions on the brand.
Not only does a breach negatively impact the business, but it also puts employees and customers in danger. Because of the security risks associated with remote work, identity theft has been on the rise. This form of attack puts the financial situation of those affected at serious risk. Potential consequences can include depleting the victim’s credit score, which can affect their ability to reach home credit score requirements and rental qualifications. It can also impact their ability to obtain a job and open new lines of credit, as these all have credit score checks. This can lead to financial stress, which can manifest in the work environment.
To protect the company and its employees, businesses must strengthen their weakest link: humans. Below are just some strategies to help mitigate attacks caused by human error.
Update & Enforce Security Policy
Take the time to revisit and strengthen your security compliance and protocols. Make sure they’re updated to the current needs of your organization.
Some beneficial updates you can include in your security policy are requiring multi-factor authentication and instilling non-compliance consequences. Having even a two-factor authentication system can go a long way in protecting company data, and including a noncompliance policy will further enforce the security policy you set in place.
After updating or establishing your security policies, take the time to educate your employees on the policy. As important as it is to have a policy, it means nothing if your employees don’t follow it. A report shows that 34% of employees say their company doesn’t even follow basic cybersecurity protocols. If employees don’t understand the security policies set in place, it creates uncertainty and leads to employees falling victim to common scams, inefficient reporting, and overall poor cyber hygiene.
Provide Remote Employees with Proper Tech & Support
Along with having an updated security policy, it’s important to provide employees with the proper tech and support to ensure cyber safety as they carry out their day-to-day tasks.
Rather than having a bring your own device policy, provide employees with a secure work laptop. Although BYOD has less of an initial cost, there are more cyber risks that come from employees mixing personal and professional use on their laptops. Providing workers with business laptops mitigates the risk of mishaps occurring, such as children using their parent’s laptops and accidental sharing of data. It also creates uniformity across devices and is easier to protect and monitor employees, even when they work remotely. Although there is more of an initial cost, providing this will reduce risk and save companies from potential human error mistakes.
Along with a business laptop, provide employees with up-to-date software. Remind employees to implement updates when notified and shut down laptops for a fresh start. You should also provide anti-virus software for added protection and a VPN to hide private information.
In addition to these instruments, employees should have easy access to IT support. If you have understaffed or weak IT support, fortify your department with IT support services to understand challenges and learn solutions to solve them. Having access to IT will help employees ask important questions, make wiser decisions, quicken security reporting time, and efficiently alleviate problems.
Incorporate Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Cybersecurity training is vital, especially in a remote workplace. If you don’t already have cybersecurity training for your organization, start to implement workshops and embedded security training during the onboarding process.
Many employees will do whatever is convenient for them, but to protect themselves from hackers, they must understand common security threats and practice basic cybersecurity techniques.
Remind employees to always use a secure network and to avoid public WiFi. This will help to avoid any network threats and data theft. Teach them how to identify and use safe websites, and encourage them to use a VPN whenever possible. Even the most secure laptops can fall victim to cyber threats if their network isn’t secure.
Educate employees on good password hygiene. Weak passwords are like candy for hackers, and unfortunately, many employees don’t understand the importance of a strong password. Statistics show the most common password is “123456.” Having a guessable password like this makes companies vulnerable to data corruption, breaches, account takeovers, theft, and more. Something as easy as having password requirements, password checks, and educating employees on best password practices can save the company from severe cyber attacks.
Test Employees’ Scam Knowledge
Along with teaching cyber security best practices, it’s beneficial to teach employees about common phishing scams to look out for.
Understanding the various types of scams and how to detect them will allow employees to avoid common pitfalls and give them the knowledge to swiftly report scams when they occur.
To further enhance their knowledge of scams, consider conducting scam simulations to actively train and gauge your employees’ understanding. Doing this will allow you to analyze and address their results to improve cybersecurity. It’s also essential to make sure your IT department stays up to date on new scam trends. An easy way to do this is by following cyber security blogs and training your employees accordingly.
Taking the time to equip, educate, and train your employees will help mitigate human error and better protect your business from cyber-attacks. As we move forward in this advanced technological age, more scams, threats, and vulnerabilities will emerge. Stay ahead by implementing and adapting your cybersecurity strategies now.