The practice of remote work has been steadily increasing for a number of years, but the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic propelled this trend to new heights. Although there are numerous advantages to working from home, there are also significant disadvantages. When working from a home office, employees rely on their personal internet connections instead of the more secure ones installed by IT experts at the office. This exposes every device in an employee’s household to potential corporate espionage.
Smaller businesses face higher vulnerability due to nearly half of their employees not receiving consistent cybersecurity training. This places them at greater risk as the consequences of a cyberattack can be more severe in their case. Are you equipped with a costly PR firm to manage the aftermath of a data breach and the resulting media attention? Do you possess adequate financial resources to endure prolonged downtime while forensic specialists investigate the extent of financial data compromised in your business? For startups, a data breach can instantly halt operations, potentially having a decisive impact on the survival of the company.
All it takes is for one employee to fall for a phishing scam, and the entire organization’s data can be hacked, encrypted, and held captive by cybercriminals. Imagine if an employee receives an email that seemingly came from a high-ranking executive, asking them to send an Amazon gift card to an unknown email address as payment for services. If the employee complies with these instructions, the hacker immediately gains entry to the company’s valuable data, which they then hold ransom.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, both the public and private sectors have invested vast sums of money into addressing ransomware vulnerabilities. A company can safeguard itself by having knowledgeable and attentive employees who can recognize and steer clear of existing cyber threats.
Training employees in an effective manner.
Here are four methods to enhance the effectiveness of educating employees on cybersecurity awareness, which is crucial for safeguarding organizations, especially small businesses, against cyberattacks.
1. Adopt an incremental strategy towards education.
According to a study conducted by Tessian (via TechRepublic), it is vital to provide security training in smaller portions, ensuring its relevance to the trainee and utilizing easily comprehensible language. This is of utmost importance as indicated by the study’s findings, which state that almost 50% of tech employees surveyed admitted falling for a phishing email while on the job.
2. Minimize Risk: Avoid Storing Confidential Information.
If a business obtains a larger amount of sensitive data, it becomes a greater target. Sensitive data encompasses not only credit card details but also any distinctive user data. If a company can refrain from storing sensitive data or entrust its storage to another party, it would be advisable. As a minimum measure, organizations should control the access to highly sensitive information.
In this scenario, the relevance of the well-known saying “prevention is better than cure” is highly applicable. The effective implementation of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy entails a crucial step of restricting and eliminating sensitive data.
Assuming a “Zero Trust” policy.
In an organization, no device or individual should be considered more trustworthy than others. Implementing a zero-trust policy eliminates various interpersonal conflicts and problems, as well as numerous security vulnerabilities. For instance, a CEO must have a secure password similar to any other employee, as no one should be exempt from following the established protocols solely based on their executive position.
Rather than that, it is essential for an organization to ensure that all individuals adhere to the same benchmark when it comes to learning and implementing cybersecurity protocols.
Take into account the idea of incorporating gamification in training.
Implement gamification into your training program for enhanced employee engagement and improved comprehension and retention of crucial information. RangeForce, a company, presents a web-based solution that involves employees undertaking missions to infiltrate organizations and acquire knowledge about cybersecurity risks. This captivating learning atmosphere has been incredibly successful.
Cybersecurity training should be a top priority for companies, particularly small businesses and public entities. Even minor efforts made towards improving awareness and training have enduring and significant effects on cybersecurity.
It is essential for organizations to prevent and promptly address cyberattacks, both prior to and particularly in the current post-pandemic situation. The consequences of neglecting this responsibility are excessively severe.
Remote Security Dos and Don’ts
If you have a large number of remote employees, it is important to consider these fundamental guidelines of what to do and avoid.
DON’T: Use public networks
Although some public Wi-Fi networks require a password for authentication, it is important to note that this does not guarantee their safety. Public networks lack adequate security measures, thereby granting unauthorized individuals easy access. Absence of a firewall enhances the vulnerability to malicious entities. An inherent risk involves inadvertently connecting to a fraudulent network, commonly referred to as a rogue network. In this scenario, a cybercriminal operates a deceptive hotspot that mimics a legitimate public network, serving as an intermediary between users and the genuine network. Consequently, this enables the cybercriminal to intercept and monitor all online activities, including the compromising of login credentials.
DO: Ask employees to use a VPN
VPNs have become widely utilized as a cybersecurity measure. Although individuals may choose to use their personal VPNs, some may compromise their security by opting for cheaper or even free options. It is crucial to be aware of the existence of counterfeit VPNs that could potentially extract your data. Instead, it is advisable to select a business-oriented VPN like Perimeter 81, which offers server capabilities specifically designed for corporate users. This type of VPN safeguards not only the employees but also the confidentiality of business information and critical files, ensuring secure transmission and access. In addition to providing encryption for enhanced security, VPNs also serve as an internet proxy.
DON’T: Rely on just the home office router’s firewall
Despite the built-in default firewalls in home office routers, attackers have discovered ways to exploit them. To enhance your home router’s security, it is advisable to incorporate a hardware firewall. These firewall devices utilize printed circuit boards (PCBs) that are produced with various materials such as solder mask, silk screen, and copper, all on a single board. This compact board can support intricate security features, effectively protecting your network against external vulnerabilities.
DO: Update your company’s software
Software updates serve more than just adding features or improving speed; they also include security patches. In light of the continual emergence of new malware and cyber criminals actively seeking security gaps in your organizational IT infrastructure, ignoring software update notifications could potentially jeopardize both your device and your business’s confidential data. Therefore, it is crucial to reconsider before dismissing these notifications.
DON’T: Assume that your business is safe
Avoiding this is crucial. As previously stated, cyber attackers are constantly striving to target both businesses and individuals. According to predictions for 2021, there is an occurrence of cyber attacks every 11 seconds and annually, these attacks cost the global economy a minimum of $5.3 billion. It is important to acknowledge that there isn’t a flawless security strategy, but implementing sufficient measures can greatly reduce the likelihood of becoming a target. Additionally, it is essential for both employees and employers to receive basic training in cyber security in order to comprehend the consequences their actions may have.
DO: Learn about phishing attacks
Not limited to executives and cybersecurity experts, it is essential for employees to have knowledge of handling cyber attacks as well. Despite having top-notch VPNs and anti-virus software, employees falling victim to phishing attacks can render them ineffective. Enhancing their awareness of phishing attacks can be achieved by conducting simulated phishing tests. Additionally, internal training sessions or providing employees with well-crafted resources on prevalent cyber threats and attack methods can also be considered to enhance their understanding.