Technology advances minute by minute, and so do cybersecurity threats. To best protect your business from nasty risks such as cybercriminal hacks and data leaks, there are cybersecurity best practices your employees must follow. After all, they're the first line of defense.
In this guide, we discuss 10 non-negotiable cybersecurity best practices for employees. Plus, we share the most common threats to businesses today, so you know exactly what to watch out for.
But first, here are the key things to know about cybersecurity best practices:
- Businesses today are susceptible to many cybersecurity threats, from data breaches and ransomware to social engineering.
- One of the most critical risks affecting businesses today is the rapidly expanding digital landscape. Businesses are now using the cloud, IoT devices, and more, all of which must be secured.
- Employees are the first line of defense against cybersecurity risks. They must follow best practices such as developing strong passwords, enabling multi-factor authentication, and installing antivirus software.
- Employers must train employees on these best practices through monthly or quarterly cybersecurity training.
- One of the quickest ways to boost data security now is by implementing a password manager. Employees can use the manager to share, store, and manage passwords securely from anywhere.
[Table of Contents]
- What Are the Cybersecurity Threats for Businesses?
- 10 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Employees
- How Should Employers Train Employees to Ensure Cyber Safety?
What Are the Cybersecurity Threats for Businesses?
Due to the nature of technology, many cybersecurity threats exist for businesses in all industries, from data breaches to social engineering.
These threats occur when an unauthorized party gains access to your critical business data. Breaches can be especially costly and difficult to recover from.
According to IBM's Cost of a Data Breach report, 83% of companies will experience a data breach (some more than once). And the average cost of a data breach has now reached $9.44 million in the US, which is over $5 million more than the global average.
Ransomware & Social Engineering
Ransomware is a type of malware used by cybercriminals to prevent you from accessing your critical data. They gain access to your data using methods such as phishing, then require you to pay a ransom to get your access back. In 2022, there were 493.33 million reported ransomware attacks globally.
Ransomware is a common social engineering method, along with baiting, vishing, and pretexting. These methods are especially insidious as they use deception to trick your employees into giving up information.
An Expanding Digital Landscape
Businesses are constantly working to boost efficiency to deliver on consumer demands and remain competitive. This means many are taking advantage of innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud-based services, and AI.
And while innovation is critical to business success, it also brings additional threats. For example, this ever-expanding digital landscape results in many entry points, complicating access control.
10 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Employees
The above threats are only a few examples of the risks you must protect your organization from. To do so, your first step should be to work with your team to implement the below cybersecurity best practices.
#1. Develop Strong Passwords
Passwords stand between your business data and those who want to exploit it. This is why it's critical to develop complex passwords that are next to impossible to guess.
What does a strong password look like? Strong passwords are longer in length and feature both lowercase and capital letters. They also include special characters (#, !, etc.). Employees should avoid using personal information such as their name or date of birth.
Want an easy way to create robust passwords? TeamPassword's password generator can help. Give it a try!
#2. Use a Password Manager
Having complex passwords is only the first step in protecting your data. You should also implement a password manager, a tool used to create, store, share, and manage credentials.
For example, TeamPassword enables you to store and manage all logins in one centralized location. This makes it easy for your employees to access the apps and services they need without sacrificing security.
Plus, with TeamPassword, you can easily control who has access to what credentials and enable additional security layers through two-step verification.
#3. Don't Share Unencrypted Passwords
Employees should refrain from sharing unencrypted passwords via email, text, or other methods. Passwords sent this way can be easily compromised. For example, email accounts are relatively easy to hack, and cybercriminals have been known to successfully intercept emails and messages using the "man in the middle" technique.
Instead, employees should use an encrypted password manager to share their credentials. Encryption renders your passwords unreadable should a third party gain access to them.
#4. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires employees to verify their identities using two or more methods. For example, after entering a password, your employee may need to authenticate using an app and enter a one-time password (OTP) sent via text to their device.
Using MFA, even if a third party gains access to a password, they won't be able to access the app or service without taking the other steps. And according to Microsoft, implementing MFA prevents 99.9% of attacks on accounts.
#5. Avoid Suspicious Emails & Links
One of the most common scams used by cybercriminals is phishing. This occurs when a scammer sends you an email or text message that compels you to give them information. And unfortunately, they're getting better at their craft.
For example, your employees may receive an email saying their credentials have been compromised, prompting them to log in using a fake website. Once the employee enters their info, the scammer now has access to it.
You should ensure your employees know what these phishing emails look like. For example, phishing emails may feature a lot of misspellings and not address the employee by name. They may also include a link to click on or an attachment to download.
To prevent phishing scams, employees should refrain from opening suspicious-looking emails (or texts) and clicking unknown links.
#6. Use a VPN
Do you have employees who work remotely from home or on the go? If so, you'll want to ensure they're using a VPN when accessing business apps and services.
A virtual private network (VPN) creates a secure and encrypted connection between the employee's device and your network.
A VPN works to encrypt the business data shared between the device and your network, keeping it private (even when using a public internet connection). As a result, your business data is protected from prying eyes.
#7. Don't Ignore Tech Updates
When your to-do list is a mile long, it's easy to hit "remind me later" when you see the "your device needs an update" pop-up. However, your employees should never ignore tech updates. Many device updates include security patches that are critical to protecting the device.
Whether on the phone they're using for business or their laptop, updates should be installed whenever they're available.
#8. Do Your Part to Prevent Viruses
Computer viruses come in all shapes and sizes, from macro viruses to resident viruses. Unfortunately, they can all be detrimental to your critical business information.
To understand the severity of the virus, consider the attacks of the past. For example, the infamous ILOVEYOU virus caused an estimated $10 billion in damage.
The best defense is virus protection. Employees must implement virus protection on all of the devices they use to access business data. Antivirus software can help prevent, detect, and eliminate viruses before they take hold.
#9. Implement Firewall Protection
Every device that can connect to the internet is a potential door that hackers can use to gain access to your data. This is where a firewall comes in.
Firewalls protect your data by monitoring the incoming and outgoing traffic on your organization's private network. The firewall can then permit or deny traffic based on the security rules you set.
Not only should you have firewall protection within your business, but your employees should implement firewalls in their home offices too. This ensures your data is protected, no matter where it's accessed.
#10. If You See Something, Say Something
Your employees are in the trenches of day-to-day work. They're the ones receiving suspicious emails, sharing passwords, and using your apps. They're also the ones more likely to spot a potential cybersecurity risk.
Empower your employees to speak up when they see a potential threat. For example, ask your employees to alert you if they receive a suspicious email or if they notice passwords being shared via the team messaging app.
How Should Employers Train Employees to Ensure Cyber Safety?
While your employees are the first line of defense against cyber threats, it's your responsibility to ensure they're aware of the above best practices.
Regular cybersecurity training can ensure your employers are kept up-to-date on the latest threats and tactics to prevent them. We recommend holding training sessions monthly or quarterly.
In addition, make sure to communicate any security incidents or updates with your team. It's also helpful to share security tips and tricks with your team periodically to keep best practices top of mind.
For example, you could send out a weekly cybersecurity-related email newsletter or cover some quick tips in your weekly meetings.
Boost Your Team's Password Security With TeamPassword
By following these best practices, you can empower your team to do their part in protecting your business. The simplest way to get started is by implementing a password management tool.
TeamPassword was built for teams that need a simple and centralized way to store, share, and manage logins. Take control of your passwords by signing up for TeamPassword today!