Employees are the backbone of any business and can sometimes also be its biggest security risk. Cybercriminals today often view employees as easy gateways to hacking organizations, and rightfully so. A recent study has found that 56% of leaders believe their employees lack cybersecurity knowledge. Such gaps in cybersecurity awareness can sometimes cost organizations huge losses in a data breach. As a business owner, are you taking any steps to raise your staff's awareness? This piece breaks down several useful ways to help you raise their awareness.
1. Provide routine awareness training
With many employees in the dark about the latest cybersecurity developments, employers need to thoroughly teach their teams about emerging online threats. Prioritize hiring competent trainers who can deliver their teachings in a clear and concise manner that will make participants pay attention. To ensure a successful training and learning experience, hire experts who can explain complex concepts in simple terms and make the exercise fun and engaging.
2. Create an open atmosphere
In a relaxed workplace environment, it’s easy for employees to report security threats and share their thoughts on potential security breaches without fear of being judged or reprimanded. If you can’t handle the problem in-house, you can outsource these services from a reputable firm. It would also be a great opportunity to upskill your IT team on some cybersecurity techniques they lack.
3. Distribute cybersecurity resources to employees
Many organizations are vulnerable to external threats due to a lack of awareness. However, you can mitigate this by making learning resources available to all employees. These resources can include websites, security manuals, FAQs, and other resources that they can check when necessary. To make it even more worthwhile, host the resources remotely so that employees can access them on the go.
4. Upraise your employees regularly
Send out surveys, questionnaires, tests, and any tool to gauge your employees’ cybersecurity awareness level. While most of these tools work fine, informative games would work best because they’re engaging and entertaining. As for surveys and random tests, they can provoke them to do further research on the areas they’re lacking. It is also a great way to compel them to stay up to date with emerging cybersecurity trends because they never know when you come calling. Nevertheless, don’t forget that these are your employees, not students, so reward them handsomely if they do well.
5. Organize random drills
Nothing works better in training than practical hands-on experience, and in the world of emergencies, drills are a lifesaver. Even with the best industry training, people will react differently to emergencies; they panic, and it’s impossible to predict their immediate reaction. However, with an impromptu cyberattack drill, you can easily assess how they would react to such an emergency. Hence, with these results, you know exactly where they’re lacking.
6. Ensure they use best practices in their home office
If your employees work remotely, don’t leave them unsupervised. Without proper online safety practices, their networks could easily be compromised, putting your organization at risk. However, you can increase their awareness by encouraging them to adopt online safety best practices. One, they should use strong passwords, install antivirus, and avoid engaging strangers online. If they have to, they can use Nuwber to check the identity of the individual before sharing or receiving files from them.
7. Communicate updates in security protocols
It’s imperative to update your cybersecurity policies to keep up with the ever-changing techniques of online fraudsters. Additionally, such policies should be written in simple language or verbally explained to your employees for easy comprehension. Also, highlight how these updates address current data breach threats. If there’s a sudden surge in phishing email scams, for instance, let your employees know how the new protocols will help deal with the vulnerabilities better. When you instill personal responsibility in dealing with security threats, your employees will be more accountable for their behavior.
8. Reward active employee participation
Most cyberattacks succeed because of late reporting or lack of knowledge. So, you can mitigate this by motivating your employees to report such threats early on and rewarding good behavior. You can also reward or publicly recognize those who go out of their way to ensure cyberthreat crises are handled. By openly recognizing employees, you reinforce positive behaviors and promote awareness. Doing so also encourages employees to keep learning and improving their security practices.
9. Remind employees to be careful
Training your employees on safe online practices is not enough; you must constantly remind them about the risk of an attack. You can do this by making it a key discussion point in your weekly team meetings or inviting cybersecurity experts for talks. When you hear something constantly for so long, it’s impossible to overlook its significance.
10. Gamify training
To effectively raise awareness and ensure your employees learn something, it would help to gamify your training exercise. We are in a world that is dominated by gadgets, and a rising number of millennial employees are inseparable from gaming. Gamified training involves incorporating points, awards, and other game-like aspects. Learners can, therefore, experience and test their skills through simulations, challenges, and other immersive experiences. Gamification also helps boost the ability to recall and apply the information in the training. It employs tried and tested teaching techniques like repetition, reinforcement, and spaced learning.
11. Include cybersecurity in job roles
When you incorporate cybersecurity responsibilities directly into employees' job descriptions and performance reviews, you encourage them to be proactive. This means they’ll have to take the initiative and learn more about cybersecurity if they wish to advance in their career. Employees become more diligent in their work by linking performance reviews to job success. They must adhere to policies and follow expert guidance to perform well.
It’s almost impossible to safeguard yourself against threats you don’t know. That’s why it is critical to teach your staff about online threats. When employees know how to mitigate such risks, they help safeguard your business against external threats and avoid being compromised. Following these tips goes a long way in increasing your employees' cybersecurity awareness.