10 Cybersecurity Awareness Tips Every Employer Should Know

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Every single company in existence is continuously working on improving the work conditions for their employees, customers, and their overall operations. A significant part of those efforts is aimed at boosting cybersecurity, especially ever since the pandemic has pushed more companies to switch to remote work, or at least partially send employees to work from home. Expanding your security strategy to include on-site as well as remote staff takes extra resources, but it also means getting creative.

One of the biggest challenges for most companies is inspiring employees to care about their cybersecurity, especially within a mobile workforce. Those who don’t work in your IT sector are less likely to know and understand the risks of various online transactions and interactions, making them more prone to making mistakes that can lead to a breach. 

Elevating employee awareness, expanding their knowledge and skills, and implementing dedicated security strategies are all vital for getting your people to genuinely care. The following ideas will help you transform your culture into one that is heavily centered around cybersecurity awareness and it will boost employee awareness of potential threats and the best behaviors they should embrace!

#1 Dedicated employee training 

Getting your people to care means that you first need to educate them. They need to know why they should care, how their own information might be compromised by poor etiquette in terms of security. If they keep skipping software updates and they use outdated hardware, if they don’t know anything about encryption or phishing, they risk exposing your business, but their personal data, as well.

Organize dedicated workshops, preferably with interaction and gamification in mind, to get your employees on board. Encourage them to ask questions and to ask for help when they’re not certain what they need to do. A sense of community in your business also contributes to safety if your employees feel comfortable asking for guidance. 

  • Schedule regular security training for employees of all levels in your hierarchy and make sure that they attend. 

  • Make sure your remote employees have access to workshops and security seminars, too. If your IT experts might need to jump on a quick call to go through the latest system updates, so be it, as long as everyone in your organization knows what to do. 

  • Make sure your IT experts get the right training and certification, too!

#2 Establish acceptable behaviors and security protocols

To make sense of your employee training and to give them the necessary knowledge, you also need to define precisely what kind of prevention you’ll have in place. Work closely with your IT experts to define your security protocols, both for internal processes and for customer-facing operations.

After building a dedicated cybersecurity rule book, you can share access with your employees and remind them to keep track of the latest changes. Send them email updates when you add new rules and regulations, or when you implement new security protocols to keep them in the loop. 

#3 Provide your IT experts with the right tools

At the core of all your cybersecurity preventative measures and protocols is your IT team of experts. Their numerous roles prevent breaches, serve to educate staff, and they typically keep the hardware and software up to date. To do that, they, for starters, need the best rostering software that will help them keep track of employees in your organization and schedule when they need system updates and training.

Without a system in place, you risk overloading your IT crew with work, as employees might rush to them for system updates and training when they are busy and when they cannot possibly handle so many tasks. 

  • Organizing your security updates, employee training, and interaction starts with ensuring transparency. Track when your employees are at work, and allow them access to the same software so that they know when the IT experts are available and when they can book a time with them. 

  • Use your rosters to schedule training and onboarding for new employees alike. 

  • Set up automated notifications to help people track their training schedule with more ease.

#4 Get new hires on board with the right literacy program

10 tips on educating employees on cybersecurity awareness

Onboarding new employees is when so many companies expose themselves to potential security risks, since they will most likely need some time to adapt. This is especially common for non-IT employees who don’t inherently have the awareness or the skills to tackle cybersecurity. That’s why it’s crucial to help your new staff from day one by getting them first to go through your cybersecurity literacy program.

They should be able to use the designated scheduling tools, book their security training in time, as well as regular system updates. Teaching them about all the software that you use, cloud tools and collaboration, and effective ways to communicate about sensitive topics to protect their equipment from breaches and to ensure their own data is safe. 

#5 Empower employee mentorship in your business

Your IT professionals already own up to so much of the work that protects your business from cyber threats. They can safely monitor your employees’ activities and teach them smarter ways to protect themselves based on their activity. Although they can educate your employees to a great extent by offering their best practices in different sectors, your employees should also feel empowered to mentor one another, when they have sufficient knowledge to share. 

  • For example, your veteran marketers can show the ropes to your marketing newbies and at the same time check to see how well they understand your fundamental security precautions. 

  • They can help them manage and store passwords, choose safe cloud collaboration methods, and work on sensitive data with the right protocols in place. 

  • Mentorship can extend beyond their everyday tasks and help everyone exchange their security knowledge under one roof.

  • Let more experienced employees share their department-specific security protocols and issues they’ve encountered. When new employees learn from real-life examples, it’s much easier for them to understand the potential problems they can encounter and they’ll be better at preventing them. 

#6 Support and assist your remote employees 

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to be flexible and agile enough to respond to unexpected and major changes quickly and efficiently. If you’ve been able to maintain successful collaboration with your employees remotely – well done! In terms of cybersecurity, however, that’s no more than half the battle. Especially for your non-IT workers who don’t have the same, extensive expertise as your cybersecurity gurus, remote IT assistance to take care of their potential issues is vital.

  • With direct access to their hardware and software, your cybersecurity and IT specialists can tackle any issue they have, immediately.

  • Remote employees can rely on rostering tools to find out where your cybersecurity team members are at any given time, to know who to contact in case of an emergency.

  • Make sure to troubleshoot any issues and add the scenarios into your future training modules, to help remote and on-site employees communicate as effectively as possible.

  • Set up regular digital workshops for your remote workers to implement the latest, most effective security strategies in their everyday work. 

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#7 Empower business-wide transparency

Responsibility is built into every single position, from that of your cleaning staff, all the way to your CEO. However, employees often tend to feel responsible only up to a certain extent, and typically within the confines of their profession. If they are marketers, social media managers, sales experts, you name it, they don’t consider themselves cybersecurity professionals, and they likely won’t hold themselves responsible in case of an issue.

This is where building the right kind of business culture matters. Employees need to understand what’s at stake. For that to happen, your management-level people need to avoid sharing half-truths or give out vague statements about the latest cybersecurity threats. You need to make sure your employees understand the gravity of the situation and how they can contribute to your overall safety.

  • Notify teams whenever a breach has been prevented, or even when it actually occurs, even if nothing is actually stolen or compromised. They need to realize the imminent nature of such threats – they are far from distant possibilities.

  • If your teams aren’t there, send out email reports to share when something goes awry with all the details: explain the cause, the risk, the consequences, and tell them what they can do to prevent it in the future.

  • Make it about them. Employees should realize that their own data and information can be at risk.

#8 Rewards and incentives make a difference

Although some of your more dedicated employees, especially those among them who truly understand the relevance of cybersecurity awareness won’t need incentives – others might need and appreciate them. After all, this means, from their perspective, investing more time in a skill they cannot really monetize since its’ not their profession, and something they cannot put on their resume. 

To give your team that extra nudge of motivation, instead of pushing for a competitive atmosphere which can backfire, you can set up incentives and small rewards as your tokens of appreciation for their time, effort, and thirst for knowledge.

  • Use coupons for activities they like: maybe they’d like access to a new game that’s being published, or a language-learning app. 

  • Offer food-based rewards for the office foodies, even something as silly as a cupcake can make someone’s day and bring a smile to their face when they need to go through extensive security training.

  • Fitness passes for a month of Zumba or aerobics could make all the difference. Make sure it’s something they normally don’t have included in their regular fitness pass. 

  • Tickets to events might not be popular right now because of the pandemic, but soon enough, these can also become worthy rewards for your employees.

#9 Change your hiring policies 

People will begin to care about cybersecurity awareness from day one when it affects their prospects of getting hired. Modern-day employers already have a slew of criteria to consider when selecting the best candidates, but when you have a digital workforce and you want your employees to be as productive as possible – security should be one factor not to skip.

Let your job ads reflect the need for people who have some fundamental knowledge of basic cybersecurity steps when working for any business in this day and age. List specific steps and protocols (such as two-step authentication, the use of specific security software, password managers, etc.) they should know how to use. If you have a qualification test in the next stage of your selection process, make sure to test if they are, indeed, as versed as they claim to be on their application. 

Some companies might be reluctant to be as rigorous, but this could be of great help for highly competitive startups who don’t have the resources or the time for extensive training for people who don’t have any basic cybersecurity awareness knowledge. 

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#10 Drills and practical exercises

Most people who don’t have first-hand knowledge of cybersecurity don’t understand what it means to deal with a crisis in this department. One of the best ways to help your employees feel the importance of such situations is to simulate them! 

Have your IT department intentionally “crash” your employees’ software or send out an alert that there has been a breach. Make sure that they’ve been previously trained on how to react and behave in such situations. Reward those who perform the best, and of course, make sure to schedule similar situations in the future, too. 

Cybersecurity awareness is an ever-growing challenge for companies of all sizes, and the sooner you get your employees on board, the better it will be for your business, your employee collective, and your customers. Try to incorporate some of the listed ideas into how you select, onboard, and train your staff, and how you choose the tools your IT team can rely on every day. Hopefully, this will be more than enough to boost employee awareness and get them to care about the crucial issues of cybersecurity within your business!

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Author Bio:

Author bio: Lauren is a regular Bizzmark Blog author with many research studies published with the main focus on clients who want their brands to grow in the fast-changing and demanding market.

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