How to Turn Your Employees from Security Threats to the First Line of Defense
As a small business owner, you rely on the people you hire to serve your customers, keep the office running and project a positive image to the outside world. You also rely on your employees to be the first line of defense against digital attacks, trusting that they will not only recognize, but also report, hacking attempts and suspected spearphishing attacks.
Unfortunately, that trust is often misplaced. Many employees do not have the training or the expertise needed to recognize sophisticated phishing and spearphishing attacks, and those front-line workers are often the point of entry, the portal the bad guys walk through to gain access to your network.
So how do you make your employees the first line of defense? How can you turn what would otherwise be a security threat into a way to bolster your defenses and keep the bad guys at bay? The things you do matter, from how you welcome your newest hires to how you train and retrain your current staff. Here are some simple tricks for turning your employees into your best cyber defense weapons.
Get Off to a Great Start
The onboarding process for new hires is one of the most critical parts of doing business, but it is also one of the most poorly utilized. It is easy to overlook or rush the onboarding process, especially when you are desperate for new workers and anxious to get them up to speed fast.
Even so, onboarding should be about more than filling out forms and reading the employee handbook. If you want to maintain your cyber defenses and turn your new hire into an asset, you need to build in cybersecurity awareness from the start. Talk about network security, outline the rules about what can and cannot be disclosed and provide solid training on how to spot and report a suspicious email. It may take some extra time now, but the extensive onboarding process will pay off with stronger cyber defense.
Challenge Your Staff
You trust that your employees know how to spot a suspicious email, and you have confidence that your onboarding process is working flawlessly. But how do you know that your efforts are working?
If you are not conducting live cybersecurity exercises, you are risking real damage to your network, as well as the integrity of your customer data and the reputation of your business. Challenging your employees with fake phishing and spearphishing emails is an essential part of ongoing training, and it can be far more effective than reading a manual or attending a boring training session.
When you conduct these live cybersecurity exercises, you can pinpoint the weak spots in your training, so you can address those deficiencies and close any gaps you find. Whether you choose an off-the-shelf cybersecurity testing solution or create your in-house, these live-fire exercises should be an integral part of your security operations.
It is not easy to keep your network safe, and many small businesses have found themselves targeted by hackers and other bad actors. The bad guys know that small businesses often lack the budgets for formal IT staff and that they may not be as well-protected as their larger counterparts. If you want to overcome the threats, you need to think outside the box, and that starts with turning your employees into your first line of cyber defense.