As U.S. hiring increases, many businesses are welcoming new employees. And with every new employee, the potential for cyberattacks grows. Although a larger workforce enables companies to produce more, it also provides additional points of entry for criminals. Indeed, many successful cyberbreaches occur because an employee inadvertently clicks on a malicious link in a phishing email, fails to update software when prompted or chooses a weak password.
To ensure that both new and longer-serving employees understand their roles in preventing cyberattacks, you must provide anti-fraud training and reinforce a cybersecure work culture.
For many employees, cybersecurity is an unwelcome distraction from their core jobs. This may be because they don't understand the scope and severity of the threat or how important a preventive role they can play. They may view cybersecurity as a compliance issue and simply something they have to go along with to satisfy their employer.
To ensure cybersecurity receives the support and attention it deserves, reframe it — as superior customer service, effective financial accounting or as another critical function. Share examples of successful breaches at other companies, particularly in your industry, on a regular basis. Disclose the amount of losses generated by breaches and the impact they've had on defrauded companies' finances and operations. Make sure you draw up a list of lessons that can be learned from these examples and communicate them to workers.
To further impart the importance of security to new and existing employees, routinely offer cybersecurity education that includes the latest threat intelligence. Updating materials frequently will help keep employees' attention. Include quizzes that don't simply require them to memorize answers. For example, ask them to provide feedback on cyber schemes they've learned about or have personally experienced. You might also want to offer rewards for participation and high scores.
To further foster employee engagement, encourage employees to participate on internal discussion boards about cybersecurity. You might start a thread that asks employees to share examples of phishing emails they've received, relate news stories detailing breaches at other companies or ask questions related to best practices.
When cybersecurity became a widespread corporate priority several years ago, many organizations asked their IT department to assume sole responsibility for educating employees about threats. For some employees, it may have been easy to ignore or dismiss IT communications as not essential to their jobs.
Your IT department remains central to preventing cyberbreaches. But in today's high-risk environment, employee education shouldn't rest entirely with IT. Your organization's senior leadership must play a visible role in building a security-conscious culture. Senior managers across your organization should include cybersecurity information in every employee communication that's even tangentially related. Executives also need to encourage workers to complete cybersecurity training and report any suspicious activity.
When evaluating technology investments, company leaders should include IT department representatives in planning meetings to ensure cybersecurity remains at the forefront. For example, IT staffers can contribute what they know about the reputation of software providers when it comes to fixing bugs and providing updates.
Most networks these days are under frequent — sometimes constant — attack by cybercrooks. You need to do everything in your power to prevent these criminals from breaching your company's defenses. Your employees are the foot soldiers in this battle. Foster an enterprise-wide cybersecurity culture by prioritizing training and setting an example by taking the threat seriously.
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