Effective Ways Staff Can Protect Organizations Against Cyberattacks

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, there was a sudden need for businesses to rethink their pre-existing processes and, instead, implement more remote working-focused systems that allowed their staff or students to continue working from their own homes.

As a result of this, cybersecurity became harder to control: servers were left more vulnerable than before and cybercriminals were able to take advantage, causing a significant rise in cyberattacks throughout the pandemic.

The threat of these cyberattacks has, in turn, spelled disaster for companies of all sizes, with personal data breaches fast becoming harder and harder to guard against. So, what can be done to prevent the growing threat? How can businesses train staff to better protect themselves as they move forwards with a greater level of protection? And what are some of the major cybersecurity trends to consider?

The reality is that staff have a vital role to play in keeping the company safe. Join us as we run through some of the most effective ways in which your staff can stop cybercrime in its tracks and protect institutions from reputational damage and data theft.

Check For Existing Vulnerabilities

Back in July 2020, a number of institutions and organizations in the UK, US, and Canada fell victim to a ransomware attack on the education software supplier Blackbaud. Having gained access to a wealth of data, the cybercriminals were then paid an undisclosed ransom to prevent a breach, leading to a lot of criticism, concern and a detailed investigation into the personal details that had been compromised so easily.

The challenges created by these types of attacks show that companies need to pay closer attention to their systems and understand how they could be vulnerable to attacks. But being able to spot these vulnerabilities can be challenging for staff who may not know what to look for. 

To avoid putting the onus on employees who may not have the required training or knowledge, many leading cybersecurity suppliers recommend a service called penetration testing. This is a technique designed to assess IT systems with the owner’s permission to identify and address any vulnerabilities or security weaknesses that it might have. 

These vulnerabilities can then be dealt with before they become a cause for concern, or an open invitation to any lurking cybercriminal.

Educate Staff Members

As the old phrase goes, the more you know, the better. Therefore, if all members of staff are clued up on what cybercrime looks like and understand each of the various forms it can take, they will inevitably be able to identify it a lot more easily.

Businesses can comprise a vast number of people, after all, and it only takes one person to make a simple mistake that could end up costing millions of dollars to resolve. So, by helping them to understand the importance of effective cybersecurity – including the various ins and outs of how the business is set up to protect itself – this will help ensure everyone who oversees sensitive information will be equipped with the right level of knowledge.

HR professionals can manage this by scheduling in regular company-wide training events, so that all staff are kept up to date with the latest risks and threats, as well as more in-depth training programs for individuals who will have greater access to IT systems. Similarly, sending out monthly newsletters that will keep all staff clued up and reminded of the importance of cybersecurity measures can help to keep their knowledge relevant and at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Apply Security Updates & Monitor Access Points

Larger organizations often have huge networks with multiple entry points, primed and ready for cybercriminals to utilize. As such, it’s imperative for these organizations to create access controls for staff, not just to limit who can access specific information but to also reduce the amount of data that a cybercriminal can compromise should the worst happen.

Coupled with this, it is vital that any available security updates or patches are monitored and installed on a regular basis. While they may take a lot of time to install, especially when dealing with large servers and networks, these software updates are there for a reason, created to prevent cybercriminals from exploiting any potential vulnerabilities within the company’s pre-existing software. 

IT teams should factor this into their regular monitoring of systems to ensure that all staff are working from protected computers with software that has been kept up to date.

Implement Authentication

Another cost-effective way that businesses can enhance cybersecurity is to implement a user-friendly multi-factor authentication tool for staff. It’s an extra security step for authorized users to go through that keeps out anyone who shouldn’t have access to the network.

Make sure that the platform you choose is easy to use so that staff can be self-sufficient in logging into systems – anything that requires constant administrative support will impact productivity and ultimately be rejected by the team.

Act Quickly

In reality, regardless of how much time and effort you put into perfecting an institution’s cybersecurity, no system will ever be entirely safe from hackers. This is because cyberattacks are constantly evolving, with more and more advanced techniques being developed as time goes on.

As such, the only thing companies can really do is make sure all steps have been taken to protect the most personal and sensitive data, educate their staff, and ensure any red flags are noticed as quickly as possible.

That way, should a cyberattack ever happen, it will be able to be handled in the right manner, minimizing the damage caused and protecting the sensitive data that would have otherwise been compromised.

Chester Avey has over a decade of experience in business growth management and cybersecurity. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with other like-minded professionals through his writing. You can connect with Chester by following him on Twitter @ChesterAvey. This article was originally published in HR Daily Advisor.

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