Let’s be honest—you almost certainly have, at least once, opened a suspicious email? Just like most of your co-workers. Why do I think so?
Well, because 95% of malware is delivered via email. And that’s not the only statistic that should worry you. Another one that requires your immediate action is the fact that almost half of all cybersecurity attacks are targeting small businesses.
Protecting yourself is one thing, but protecting your business is a very complex challenge. Cybersecurity attacks and threats can completely disrupt your operations and even shut down your business for good—and that’s the worst-case scenario for every business owner.
Sometimes a cyberattack can seem like a very vague threat, one that doesn’t require you to act immediately. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Now let’s see what you can do to improve your situation.
Understand Humans Are the Weakest Link in Cybersecurity
If there’s something that you can’t control, that would be the human factor.
Precautions aren’t worth anything if your employees aren’t aware of their responsibilities and limitations of their activities on the internet.
If you’re wondering about what to do, start by educating your employees.
Where to Start When It Comes to Educating the Workforce
Educating the workforce is a necessary first step to protect your business from cyberattacks. Your employees are the first line of defence, and so they should always be on the alert.
However, if you haven’t done this before, you might wonder about where to start. Below are a couple of pointers and ideas to educate your workforce.
Adapt these tips, pointers to suit the needs of your business, where necessary in order to bolster your business’ cybersecurity frontline:
I. Create a Cybersecurity Policy
Your employees won’t know what rules to follow if you haven’t given them any. First and foremost, start by educating yourself and securing some guidelines and procedures that your workforce will have to follow.
Start by consulting CISA, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, and you can also always check NICCS, which has a lot of helpful tools. Consult other experts if you have to, but make sure there’s a firm policy in place before you talk to your employees.
II. Educate Your Entire Workforce on the Proper Procedure
It doesn’t matter if you already had some rules in place or not. Just because you haven’t followed strict guidelines before that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t improve and do better.
A cybersecurity attack is something most people don’t even think about until it happens to them, and then it’s already too late. Make sure your employees are aware of this and that they’re taking it seriously enough.
Dedicate a couple of hours, or even an entire day, if possible, to train your workforce. Your new guidelines should include some basics, such as password security and simple ways to protect yourself against hacking.
Furthermore, let them know about all of the activities that will be prohibited in the workplace, such as social media sites, the use of personal devices, or even simple things like writing down your password on sticky notes. You might be surprised, but a lot of people still do it.
Once the training is finished, check if they’ve understood all the guidelines. If someone has missed the training, schedule another one and include it in the onboarding procedure. That way, no one will be left in the dark, not even your new employees.
III. Follow-Up Is Key If You Want to Keep Your Business Safe
Very often, new rules are less and less applied in the workplace as time goes by—and cybersecurity is no different.
For a couple of days, your employees will religiously follow every procedure, but they’ll gradually loosen up until they only adhere to around 10% of the guidelines. You simply can’t let that happen. That’s why following up is even more important than the training itself.
Depending on your leadership style, you can choose to introduce punishments or rewards. You can either choose to penalize anyone who doesn’t obey the rules or to reward individuals or teams that serve as an example to others. Both methods can be quite effective, and you can even combine them.
Should You Also Invest in Technology?
Although investing in your people is your first and most important step, you shouldn’t neglect other precautions as well. If you want to protect yourself against attacks that only exist in the online world, you need to have good equipment and software.
When it comes to protection against cyberattacks, no one expects business owners to know how to do everything. Sure, you’ll probably make sure your Wi-Fi is encrypted, and your data is backed up, but that’s about it. That’s why you should invest in IT experts and a solid IT department. Their input can be invaluable when it comes to cyberattacks.
Moreover, if an attack does happen, your dedicated IT experts and in-house IT department will help in getting back on your feet will be more than necessary.
More Tips to Protect Yourself and Business in the Long Run
Cybersecurity isn’t a hot, trendy topic that’ll be forgotten soon, because cyberattacks can happen to every business, anytime. No one is immune to them, and many people have decided to join forces and combat them together.
That’s why you should read a lot and stay updated about cybersecurity alliances and their importance. You should also consider joining some or simply spending time reading about their conclusions and suggestions.
Another important point to consider when it comes to threats of the virtual world is how prepared we all are. As technology advances, so do the tactics hackers use and keeping up seems like a pretty daunting task. Luckily, some universities have realized there’s a gap in the market, and they’ve adapted their curriculums and created new programs.
Educating more people on how to tackle the threats of cybercrimes will increase the general level of readiness, awareness, and security. Instead of just looking at this as a daily issue, try focusing on the bigger picture, and consider adopting a more strategic approach.
Adapt your business model and include cybersecurity in your business plan, just like you include tax obligations, market trends, and competitor analysis.
To sum everything up, even if you haven’t thought about it before, there are various steps you can take to protect your business. The crucial step that requires most of your attention and gives you the best results is educating the workforce. What most people forget is to follow up so that the training doesn’t go to waste.
In addition to this, your chances are significantly higher if you invest in good equipment and hire IT experts you can rely on. Also, the strategic approach that includes alliances and college-level education definitely deserves your attention.
Just like with any other threat to your business, if you prepare yourself thoroughly, you can significantly decrease the chances of suffering the hit.
Unfortunately, sometimes all the protection in the world isn’t enough. If you do become a victim of cybercrime, don’t lose faith. Rely on your team, prepare yourself better next time, and always remember to educate your workforce.