The most valuable asset of a company is its people. They can also be the company’s greatest security vulnerability. A Verizon data breach investigation found that 27% of all cyberattacks occurred due to human error or negligence. Cyberattacks are not just a threat to large corporations and government agencies, but also small businesses.

Cyberattacks on small businesses were responsible for 70% of all cyberattacks.

Companies can decrease their vulnerability by properly training their employees about online and computer safety. Here are the top 20 cybersecurity practices employees should use to better protect their company.

1. Avoid clicking on links or emails that appear to be from unknown sources.

Phishing refers to hackers sending emails that appear legitimate and linking to gain access to computers. You may be allowing an attacker to access your company’s systems by clicking on malicious popups or links.

Unrecognized senders should be warned about attachments and links in email messages. By tricking employees into clicking on links and emails with malware embedded in them, phishers could quickly gain access the company’s computer network.

Avoid entering personal information or credentials in untrusted emails, pop-ups or links. This is a simple rule. Hackers impersonating employees are the most common method of launching attacks. You can protect your company against cyber threats by double-checking any online communication.

2. Unvetted USBs should be avoided

USB is becoming the most popular mode of data transfer. Employees and even the company receive USB drives from many sources. The Accounting MBA Online program at St Bonaventure states that all USB must be treated as if they contain viruseses and malware, regardless of where they came from. No matter if the USB devices are from the business or are related to business functions, it is important that you don’t plug them directly into any computers connected to the company’s network.

One of the most dangerous malware on a USB is the keystroke detector, or the USB killer. This will destroy any computer connected to the USB.

It is a good idea to have the IT department check all USB devices before they are used within the company. This is important as the devices may contain malware or viruses that could cause damage to company systems.

3. Keep your mobile device safe

Mobile phones are now mini-computers thanks to the constant technological innovation. You can access sensitive information from your phone. Manufacturers are trying to make everything portable and lightweight, and mobile phones and laptops are shrinking rapidly.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to track these devices and many are lost. An attacker could easily steal a company’s data by pretending to be the owner of the device.

It is crucial that you know where your mobile devices are located as an employee. You risk cyberattacks if you leave them open.

4. Use strong passwords

It is important to use strong passwords for accessing company systems or personal devices. Simple passwords can be easily guessed. Hackers can figure out passwords and gain access to saved credentials, which could allow them to access your company’s systems.

Every day, password bypassing software and tools become more sophisticated. To protect your devices, it is more important than ever that you use complex and well-thought out passwords. Secure password practices also include:

  1. Use strong passwords with at least ten characters
  2. Password characters must contain upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, as well as special characters.
  3. These passwords should be changed regularly.
  4. It can be cumbersome to change and remember all passwords that have been changed in the past. This is why a password manager tool is so useful.

5. Secure WI-FI

Many office wi-fi networks can be encrypted and are safe. Wi-fi networks that are not monitored and unsecure, however, can be found in public places. This is due to their easy access and lack of security features.

If you work remotely and must access a public wi fi network, it is important to protect your company’s data using Virtual Private Networks. This is a great way to protect your company’s remote access. It is nearly impossible to hack into your device and gain remote access to your company’s system through untraceable online activity.

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Many useful VPN software and providers are available on the market, which can often be downloaded for free or very little money. It is important to remember that the free software has limited features and performance.

6. Ensure data protection

The same caution that we use to be cautious on social media not sharing too personal or private information should also apply to work. You could end up sharing information that can be used against you company if you upload it too carelessly online. These bits could contain information hackers might use to gain access the company’s systems. These bits could be sensitive company information that competitors could use to their advantage.

To mitigate this risk, users can use a variety of security measures. Employees should ensure that they double-check any photos or videos of their workplace before posting them on social media. If employees fail to do this, they could unknowingly give access credentials to an attacker by sharing a background photo that has a whiteboard or computer screen. Employees must be cautious about what information they post online.

7. Update security software

Providers of Internet security services regularly update their software in order to keep up with the ever-changing cyberthreats and sophisticated malware. Your company management may give you instructions to update your software. It is your responsibility as an employee to immediately install the updates.

Providers of Internet security services are constantly on the job to protect their clients and counter any new cyberthreats. Subscribers of their services are regularly notified about software updates. You could be vulnerable to new cyberattacks if you don’t have the most current protection software. This applies to all IoT and personal devices used at work or for work.

8. Firewall protection for home and work

A firewall is similar to a perimeter fence. It prevents unauthorised access to a network. Firewalls are the first line of defense to prevent cybercriminals accessing company websites and data storage sites.

This security measure can be taken a step further by employees who also consider firewall protection for their home networks. Hackers are skilled and capable of being determined. Hacking into the home networks of people connected to the company’s network can allow them access to its network. Employees can protect their company’s network from cybercriminals by installing firewalls on their home networks.

For more information about the different types of network firewalls available, employees can contact an internet security provider. These are the most popular types:

  1. Next-generation firewalls,
  2. Proxy firewalls
  3. Translation of network addresses
  4. Firewalls with multilayer stateful inspection

Ask your company whether they have firewall software.

9. Talk to your IT department

Many companies have their own IT departments or cybersecurity mitigation teams. To better protect their workplaces and themselves against cyber threats, employees must work closely with IT departments.

It is vital to quickly report any suspicious activity online and any security warnings from internet security software to IT guys in order to mitigate any cyber threats. It is important to consult the IT department if you run into problems with computer operations, such as software updates. Your IT staff may not be aware that there are any cyber risks to your company. IT personnel rely on employees to give them information about unusual online activities. It is important to stay in touch with IT, even if you work remotely.

False online support or IT services can be easily offered to employees of companies without an IT department. Be careful, hackers could pose as tech support providers online and make you vulnerable to phishing.

10. Cybersecurity training and education should be embraced

Many companies spend time creating cybersecurity awareness workshops and coaching their employees. This is done to decrease cyberattacks due to human error or employee negligence. Every employee must be aware of cyber threats and the risks to sensitive information.

Employees can identify and sort phishing email attachments and open up web pages by attending workshops and training. Knowledge about cyber threats can help employees identify and prevent data breaches by improving their ability to spot suspicious email attachments.

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Employees are also updated on new types of fraud and ransomware during these educative training sessions. Employees are responsible for understanding and correctly implementing cybersecurity policies within their company. A little bit of tech knowledge is helpful. This knowledge is very useful when you contact IT remotely. They need to access your devices and give you information.

11. Use Multifactor Authentication (MFA)

Multifactor authentication adds an additional barrier to account access. As with door locks, more doors make it harder to get in. Hackers will find it three times as difficult to access your data.

MFA is not used by 90% of Gmail users, despite its many benefits. According to Verizon’s 2017 data breach report, 81% cyber-attacks are caused by weak or stolen passwords. MFA significantly reduces data breaches due to password-related vulnerabilities.

However, two-factor authentication using popular phone numbers is no longer secure. Therefore, it is safer to use MFA that does not include SMSs. The employees play an important role in ensuring that cybersecurity is maintained at a minimum level. Employees can use physical MFA like Yubico Security Keys to ensure their devices and accounts are not used for hacking into the company’s network.

12. Be aware of CEO and Business Email Compromises (BEC).

Hackers could also pretend to be an authority within the company. Hackers may trick employees into providing sensitive information or transactions by imitating the email addresses of the CEO. Cybercriminals pretending to be CEO could contact employees and request urgent tasks, money transfers, or gift purchases.

Employees should not reply to such emails in order to avoid sharing or exposing sensitive business information. If you find a suspicious character within email addresses, make sure to double-check the legitimacy of the domains. Hackers can replicate email addresses in ways that are difficult to detect. It is difficult to spot subtle differences, such as 0ffice.com being instead of office.com. A physical verification of the legitimacy of such requests is another safety measure to protect against BEC attacks. You can do this by calling the authority.

13. Create data backups

Backup solutions are the best way to protect your business and personal information. Ransomware is one of the most serious threats to your data. Ransomware, a malicious program that can infect computers via malicious links, or employees clicking on them, is one of the biggest threats to data. Once the program is installed, it takes control of data storage sites. Ransomware can cause data to be deleted or made inaccessible. Ransomware is most commonly used to target businesses. However, private users are becoming more common victims.

Employees can prevent these scenarios by making sure they have continuous backups of all their important information. The cloud backup or physical hard drive backup can be used. Cloud backup makes a backup of your data and stores it on a server. In this way, data can be restored in the event of system corruption or hacking.

14. Anti-virus and malware software is recommended

Anti-virus software is a proven way to protect your computer network from malicious programs. Anti-virus programs and malware protection should be used not only in the office, but also on personal devices. These programs can be installed on mobile devices, desktop computers and laptops to protect against malicious messages and websites. This software constantly scans for suspicious files and messages on computer systems and removes them. It provides full protection against cyber threats and malware. Employees can reduce the amount of malware in the workplace by learning how to use the programs. This decreases the chance that employees will compromise the security of company information by accessing it via their mobile devices.

15. Ensure proper device operations

An employee must ensure that devices are properly deployed in order to implement company’s cybersecurity strategies and policies. Cybersecurity measures can be effectively implemented by configuring business operations devices in accordance with IT policies. Employees must follow manufacturer’s recommendations to deploy connected devices in order to prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to company systems.

If the IT department doesn’t allow such services, FTP and discovery capabilities should be disabled. Disable any device services that aren’t being used or needed. This reduces cyberattacks’ potential footprint.

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16. Verify that the software is legal

Contrary to popular belief, all software purchased from trusted brands can be dangerous. Software can be dangerously downloaded or installed without proper authorization. This could pose serious security risks to your company’s computer system. It is equally important to choose the right site to download software from as it is to choose the best brand. It is easier than ever to download malicious software from the Internet. There are many versions of popular software, with most trojan-infected.

Employees should be able to understand and follow company-specific download protocols. As much as possible, downloads should only be made to work computers. To verify the legitimacy of downloaded files and programs, an anti-virus program should be used.

17. Social engineering is a problem

social engine does not exploit vulnerabilities in software or installed operating systems. Instead, uses the untraceable human error to gain access. Cybercriminals use social media platforms to gather public information about victims and impersonate them. Psychologically manipulating and tricking their victims into giving sensitive information, the attackers manipulate them. The perpetrators can win the trust of their victims by conducting well-structured research about the victim’s data as well as background information. Employees will give sensitive information about their company to malicious actors if they have a reason that seems harmless.

These psychological traps can be avoided by employees simply being more cautious and alert when engaging in cyberinteractions. Do not accept any offers or deals that sound too good to be true. Many of these offers are frauds

18. Utilize a Managed Services Provider (MSP).

Although human error is rare, it is possible. An MSP can help you manage end-user errors. An MSP that provides Mobile Device Management (MDM) can help you locate and remotely wipe the device’s memory. This will prevent data breaches. Hackers use many methods to gain critical information from lost devices. You can manually locate your device and contact the authorities.

19. Use data encryption

Data encryption protects data from being accessed by anyone other than the owner. To transform data into another format, users can encrypt it so that only the person who has the decryption keys can view it. Companies use data encryption as one of their most common data protection methods. Encrypting data serves to preserve digital data confidentiality. Data encryption can be adopted by employees when they send data to cloud storage. Employees can protect sensitive information and files by encrypting emails.

20. Avoid messy desks

A messy desk can contain many small, crucial pieces of information. It may seem simple and obvious. A lot of paperwork containing important information can end up on an employee’s desk during a normal business day. You might leave behind notes from your boss, invoices, or pieces of paper with passwords written on them. It can be difficult to spot a lost file or paper on a messy desk. It would take many hours to link a password breach to a messy desk.

The best desk management tips for cybersecurity are simple. Avoid leaving any digital storage devices or flash drives lying around. Lock all drawers and cabinets. You must ensure that confidential papers are not left on your desk for long periods of time. Desk management, if done correctly, can make a significant impact on improving cybersecurity in your business.

Conclusion

It is crucial that employees are aware of the potential risks and consequences of cyberthreats to their businesses, given the importance of cybersecurity management roles for employees. There are many ways to minimize the risk of cyberattacks, most of which have been mentioned. It is important to recognize that cyber threats are not exclusive to one person. Therefore, employees and business managers must work together to combat the threat. Employees can take simple steps to prevent cyber threats. Simple mistakes made by employees, such as clicking on an untrue link, can lead to a company’s demise. How well employees are aware of potential risks directly affects a company’s vulnerability.

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Evangeline Christina is a Cyber Security Enthusiast, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Certified Ethical Hacker, Author at Cyberspecial.net. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter in a reputed news agency.

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