You might know all about cybersecurity and how it relates to your current IT infrastructure. But do your employees? That may be even more important, because these are the people on the front lines, using your systems and doing all sorts of things with your data. Lack of awareness of basic security practices has been very costly to organizations small and large. There’s no reason to think that your small business is immune to the vulnerabilities and threats that face the largest companies in the world, if last year was any indication. Cyberattacks could come from anywhere and happen at any time, so it’s essential to get everybody trained. But how?
Write It Down
Sure, you need firewalls and intrusion detection systems and security software with all the bells and whistles, beeps and boops. But the most important defense in your cybersecurity arsenal is knowledge. Employees who are uneducated in these matters become problematic points of weakness in the protection of your important data.
The first thing you should do in the development of your cybersecurity training program is to write everything down. Your employees are familiar with all sorts of policies and procedures for the proper operation of the company. Among them should be a well-written security policy. According to the Infosec Institute, this document should include guidelines related to:
- Physical security
- Personnel management
- Hardware and software handling/security
Your cybersecurity policy is invaluable in setting expectations for employees new and old. It should be included in new hire orientation and it should be available as a reference for employees to consult at any time. Everyone should be required to give their signature stating that they are aware of the policies, and they should also be asked to sign off on any changes to the policy as they arise. Be sure to do an annual security review with everyone in the company.
Conduct Regular Training
It’s important to reinforce your employees’ understanding of proper cybersecurity practices through regular training sessions. Repetition is good when it comes to learning, and it doesn’t hurt for them to hear the same important information multiple times. The particulars of the training should be adapted to your workforce and industry.
Training employees once a year is great, but probably not enough. Get creative and mix it up! Host casual monthly training over coffee to share the latest tips and tidbits about cybersecurity. Sign employees up for third-party online training, or establish a mentorship program tied to a cybersecurity training checklist.
The how of training is one thing. You will also need to figure out what topics to cover. You can customize your own list, but here are a few ideas:
- Malware types
- Email scams
- Social engineering
- Password management
- Physical security
- Safe internet browsing habits
- Data backup
- Use of the company’s security software
- VPNs when using public Wi-Fi
Gamify Your Cybersecurity Practices
You might think of it as a test, but you can present it to your organization as a contest. What if your IT department regularly sent out phony phishing emails to see who fell for it? Without embarrassing anyone, you could keep a tally of which departments did better than the others in combating your faux cyberattacks.
Try to trick your personnel and see what happens. Leave out rogue flash drives and see if anyone uses them. Have an outsider try to use social engineering to access a secure part of the building—your employees may know not to let in just anyone, but what if the attacker is holding sandwiches that they supposedly need to deliver? Call your employees and see if they will give up their password. It may seem like fun at the time, but cybersecurity is serious business. You can make a game of it, but challenging your team to keep up their cyber defenses at all times might be just what your business needs to keep out the bad guy.
When it comes to an awareness of best cybersecurity practices in your organization, you want to use any means possible to get the word out. Feel free to think of it as a propaganda campaign. You have a noble cause, and you want the whole company to know about it. Keeping your IT infrastructure and employees safe and secure is a paramount goal for your business, and if any of your employees believes otherwise, you want to change their minds.
The goal here is to build a culture around cybersecurity that permeates every aspect of work life and beyond. A great way to motivate employees is to help them understand they can use these tips in their personal life as well to protect friends and family. For this effort, you need to use all the tools in your arsenal. Get your marketing team involved and create an internal advertising campaign. Put up posters and pass out printed materials promoting your cause. Make information easily accessible on your internal web pages. Be serious, be funny, create memes—whatever it takes to imprint the importance of cybersecurity on everyone’s minds!
Like so much of life, cybersecurity is a mental game. Hackers try to outsmart users and IT security professionals, but it’s much better for your people to outwit them. With good documentation, a strong training program, and a comprehensive marketing effort, you can increase your chances of success in the defense of your IT infrastructure. If you haven’t already, we hope you’ll consider getting your cybersecurity training started immediately and pulling out all the stops. Only your best effort will do to protect your IT resources from the inevitable cyber attack in your future.
Ready to start taking cybersecurity and IT seriously at your small business? AaDya can help! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to an AaDya team member today.