The Importance of Educating Employees About Cybersecurity

Everyday communication depends on the internet, and businesses regularly exchange information and services with partners and vendors online. Then there’s the cloud as the go-to storage solution and a collaboration platform for many, while you have employees who bring their own devices to work, too. 

Who could possibly keep up? In all of that chaos, even for smaller companies, the idea of cybersecurity is typically firmly and exclusively rooted in the IT sector. You have a dedicated team of people that make sure everything is in perfect order. Few business owners understand that it’s the rest of your organization that can expose your business to risks and cybersecurity threats of all kinds. 

While it is true that those essential IT preventative measures are vital for the safety of all your interactions and digital communication, you should also rethink the role your teams play in your company’s security. In fact, educating them on the best practices, changes in behavior, and increasing their awareness can boost the security of your company on so many levels. Let’s cover a few key roles your employees play in your company’s cybersecurity.

Education through onboarding

Employees need to know how to manage their personal devices, personal social media accounts, recognize suspicious emails and potential ransomware, and know how to handle links they receive in emails when they work with you. However, not everyone has had the education and experience before coming to you, so you should prepare a one through onboarding strategy that includes cybersecurity education. 

Conduct interviews to see how familiar they are with the latest preventative measures. Ask them about their previous experience with security practices. Craft a teaching portfolio to help onboard new employees and enable them to safely manage all of their accounts before they actually start working with you.

Dedicated cybersecurity training

You need to be educated and experienced IT experts in your organization. They are the gatekeepers of your security and the ones your employees will turn to in case of an emergency with any of their devices. That said, providing your employees with regular IT training can make all the difference in enhancing the cybersecurity levels of your business. 

Trends will reshape the IT sector, and as new software and solutions appear, your team should be able to handle more advanced tools. They need to keep up with the changes in IT and learn the latest methods to protect your business, and then educate all of your other employees. They can then create, update, and implement that in-house training program to help all of your teams contribute to cybersecurity. 

Implement safe password practices

Every employee that joins your business ranks gets a number of accounts for all of your company’s information and communication. They’ll get an email account, access to your project management software, and depending on their role in your business, perhaps even access to your accounting software and analytics tools. 

That is yet another reason each individual in your organization should know how to properly and safely use those accounts daily. For starters, show them how to use a password manager that will generate and store passwords for their accounts. Avoiding personal details in passwords makes them far more difficult to crack, and random strings of numbers and symbols are impossible to remember, so the use of tech tools is recommended. 

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Employees handle your most sensitive data

Even if you are officially holding the reins, your employees are the ones doing research, reaching out to potential clients, talking to customers, crafting contracts, and the like. Their various interactions with the “outside” world allow them to handle swarms of sensitive information, such as credit card details of your customers, business information of your vendors, and your own business data. 

Since they do manage the flow of data in your business, they definitely need to be educated and equipped to do so securely. Make sure that you have a dedicated portion of your training for spotting fake emails, phishing, and social engineering. Show them how to handle such situations. The way they communicate every day can make or break your security, hence the need for ongoing learning. 

Ensuring transparency in your company culture

When your employees aren’t sure about what to do in a specific situation, they should at least know who to turn to and who can help them. You might have a cybersecurity expert by now on your staff, but if they aren’t available, your employees should feel free to contact their colleagues, yourself, or send an email to a dedicated address reserved for employees’ queries and concerns. 

Once you introduce training as part of your onboarding procedure, you’ll find that fewer employees will come to you with such issues. Nonetheless, transparency in communication should be one of those core pillars of your company culture, and your teams will know they can always ask for help and guidance. 

Although firewalls and other protective measures you take to keep your data secure at all times are all valid and necessary, you shouldn’t disregard the role your employees have in your business security. Making sure that they are implementing best practices whenever they use their accounts and exchange sensitive data is vital for your future and your brand reputation. Recognize your employees’ relevance in the process, teach them the latest trends in cybersecurity, and you’ll protect your business in more ways than one.

Keith Coppersmith

Keith is an Adelaide based business consultant with a degree in Media Management. Born and raised in a small town in New Zealand, big dreams brought him to Adelaide, where he carefully tends to his numerous small business projects. When not engaged in a busy city lifestyle, he enjoys coming back home to NZ to relax and write.

Keith Coppersmith has 9 posts and counting. See all posts by Keith Coppersmith

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