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Why Your Employees Are Your Company’s Number One Cybersecurity Threat  

A company cannot exist without its workers – that’s a given. But as much as workers are an integral part of any company, they are also the ones most likely to take a company down – at least when it comes to online security. According to a recently published study, employees are the number one cause of data breaches.

The Most Common Reason For Data Breaches? Employees.

The question, of course, is why employees are the number one cause of data breaches. The answer is simple: your employees are humans, and as such, they are prone to making mistakes.

But how do such mistakes happen, and more importantly, what can be done to prevent them? Here are four common causes of data breaches in the workplace:

Stolen/lost devices: When employees do not protect hardware devices (such as laptops, portable disks etc), they can get stolen or lost. If these devices fall into the wrong hands, the sensitive data that’s on them can be turned into a goldmine.

Phishing Emails: Every one of us can fall victim to phishing scams, including your employees. If a work email is compromised, then all of your company’s database is at risk.

Unprotected Logins: Public wi-fi can be a goldmine for hackers. If your workers access your company’s data from an unprotected network, it can jeopardize your entire company.  

Employees’ personal devices: Personal devices are far less likely to feature the same security measures as company devices do. They may even be infected with malware or spyware that would then infest your company’s network. This risk increases exponentially if your company employs remote workers as they are more likely to access your network using unprotected public wi-fi.

How To Protect Your Business From Your Employees’ Negligence Or Mistakes.

The only way to reduce the risk of cybersecurity breaches is to understand exactly how they happen and how to protect your company against them.

Here are some simple steps that every business – no matter how small – should follow to maintain cybersecurity in the workplace.

Create a Cybersecurity Policy.

A strong cybersecurity policy is essential, and should include instructions on how to create secure passwords, where and how to store sensitive data safely, how and when to access sensitive files, and how to store physical devices at home or in the workplace.

The policy should also include concrete ways to dispose of hard drives and portable devices. Bear in mind that if a device is not disposed of properly, information can still be retrieved even if the data has been deleted.

If your company doesn’t yet have an IT person, you should appoint a trained staff member who can be contacted in the event of a cybersecurity breach. The designated staff member’s contact details should be readily available to all company employees.

While it’s easy for employees to see additional roles as a burden, you’ll need to make sure that the person designated to deal with cybersecurity concerns recognizes the importance of this role. Ideally, the person should be someone who is tech savvy and is not intimidated by a bit of tech jargon. He or she should produce quarterly reports on cybersecurity issues that are readily available to everyone in the company. The secret to preventing cybersecurity breaches is to be aware of the risks 365 days a year.

Train Your Employees To Spot Phishing Emails.

Create regular lessons intended to teach your employees how to spot the tiny red flags in phishing emails. Try to make the lessons as entertaining as possible. There are many good interactive quizzes out there, like this one by Google.

Make sure your employees live by the mantra: whenever there’s any doubt, there is no doubt – at least when it comes to cybersecurity. Your online security policy should clearly state that employees must immediately forward any suspicious-looking emails to the IT department before (and even after) clicking on any links. And if there’s no IT department? Make sure the emails are sent to your designated cybersecurity person.

Keep Intruders Out: Use A VPN.

VPNs are everywhere these days. From large corporations to government agencies, VPN technology is often used to provide remote and secure access to the networks of an organization.

VPNs create specialized servers and by doing so encrypt your data. VPNs encrypt data as it travels over your company’s network to prevent hackers from harvesting it.

Business VPNs will provide your company with a dedicated server and IP address. This will allow your employees to connect to the network from anywhere in the world, while preventing others from being able to access your company’s data. This is especially important if you have remote workers who might be accessing your network from unprotected wi-fi networks.

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