As cybersecurity threats continue to evolve rapidly in our digitally-dependent and connected world, the same urgency is required in training and equipping your people in recognising cybersecurity warnings and knowing the next appropriate steps to take. This in turn allows them to be effective agents at the forefront of closing every digital door left ajar, in a concerted effort to thwart malicious actors from peering into your data systems, uninvited.
Here are some ways you can begin the conversation on cyber-preparedness with your people:
1. Teach them about phishing email scams
Phishing emails are a common type of cyber-attack where hackers send spoofed emails that appear to be sent from a legitimate source in an attempt to deceive victims into clicking malicious links or attachments, as well as divulging personal information.
Inform your employees to be on the lookout for some common red flags:
2. Educate them on the importance of strong passwords
Passwords are often the first line of defence against cyberattacks. Encourage your employees to use strong, unique passwords for all their online accounts, including those associated with your organisation.
Strong passwords are at least eight characters long and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
3. Ensure that they know not to click on links from unknown sources
Links in emails, social media posts and text messages can be used to deliver malware or redirect users to phishing websites. Teach your employees to hover their cursors over links to see where they are really taking them before committing to clicking on them.
4. Talk to them about how to spot fake websites
One of the most important things to be aware of are fake websites. These are sites that are designed to look like legitimate businesses, but are actually created for the purpose of scamming or deceiving unsuspecting users.
There are a few key things to look out for when trying to spot a fake website. First, if the URL contains misspellings, it is very likely to be a fake or malicious site. It is important to examine the URL carefully before entering any personal information. Second, the design of the website can be very telling: If it looks unprofessional, almost amateurish, or like it was put together quickly, that is another warning sign. Finally, it is key to be wary of any site that asks for personal information or financial details without first establishing a secure connection.
5. Encourage them to keep computers/devices and software up-to-date
Outdated software is one of the most common cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Software updates often provide security patches to remedy exposed entry-points into your organisational data systems. Not bringing existing software in use ‘up-to-speed’ with the latest safeguards in place, increases the risk of exposure to intrusions and data breaches.
Encourage your employees to keep all software up-to-date, including operating systems, applications and firmware, and to install updates as soon as they become available. Consider configuring software updates to install automatically and creating a process for quickly patching critical vulnerabilities.
6. Design a cybersecurity policy for organisation-wide adherence
A cybersecurity policy is a set of guidelines and procedures for protecting an organisation's electronic information and systems from attack. It includes measures for preventing, detecting and responding to cybersecurity incidents, and should be reviewed and updated regularly in response to changes in technology, business practices and the threat landscape.
Ensuring that your people are aware of the steps they can - and need to - take in the event of a data breach or cyberattack, can provide a critical respite of assurance of the swift remedial actions that are to follow.
The following are key components you may consider to include in your organisation’s cybersecurity policy:
It is also important to note that businesses should consult with cybersecurity experts when developing their policies to ensure that they are comprehensive and effective.
The preservation of the integrity of organisational data systems is a shared responsibility. Continuing the conversation and providing resources to educate your people on the latest cybersecurity threats and how to avoid them, must therefore be maintained as a key priority for your organisation’s leadership and Chief Information Security Officer, or CISO.
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