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Companies often claim that their employees are their greatest asset. Another valuable asset is the data that those companies collect about their employees, customers and vendors. Every business should be helping to ensure their staff understands the value of data and the importance of protecting it.

Continuous education programs can help safeguard your employees’ confidential information and protect against the cyberattacks and data breaches that can lead to financial damage, fraud, and identity theft. Embedding helpful reminders and security best practices throughout employee and customer communications is an ongoing process.

This kind of educational effort is vital as internal errors are still a leading cause of data breaches for companies of all sizes and industries. As the consumerization of IT grows exponentially, bring your own device (BYOD) policies and the use of apps that aren’t vetted and approved by the company can serve as a potential gateway for breaches.

Let’s examine how that happens and review some of the training programs you can implement to keep your key constituents vigilant.

Employee Negligence and Security Breaches

It happens every day. An employee clicks on a phishing email, accidentally uploads confidential data to a public-facing website, or loses a company-issued device. Before you know it, hackers are holding your company hostage with ransomware or stealing the personally identifiable information (PII) of your employees and customers.

In fact, Verizon reports that 82% of data breaches were caused by a human element, such as a phishing attack. For most of your employees, avoiding these threats is just a matter of awareness, vigilance and being taught what to do — and what not to do — in certain situations.

Today’s Digital and Remote Employee

An “always-on” workforce means that no matter where your employees go, they are connected. Their devices can send and receive corporate — and perhaps highly sensitive — data. That constant connection to corporate data increased significantly with the widespread adoption of remote and hybrid work environments introduced by the pandemic. While only 23% of employees worked remotely prior to the pandemic, six in ten (59%) of workers who can work from home are doing so.

As a result, IT professionals must now manage the organizational risks that can occur through employees’ home networks. Those home-based systems and devices create a series of new attack surfaces that cybercriminals can use to gain entry to company networks, email accounts, and unsecured devices. That makes it important that remote workers receive the same thorough security training as your on-site employees.

5 Keys to Protect Against Cyberattacks

Whether your in-house IT or Information Security (InfoSec) teams deliver the training or you outsource it to a third party, properly educating your employees is essential to guide appropriate online (and offline) behavior and help reduce your risks of a data breach.

When educating your team, be sure to include these five topics:

  1. Password Security | Passwords can hold the key to unlock the company data fortress. Help your employees understand the importance of safeguarding passwords, keeping them lengthy (12+ characters), random and updated regularly. No one should ever write down their passwords or reuse passwords across different accounts and websites. To help them keep passwords safe, you might instruct them to utilize a password manager.
  2. Suspicious Email Detection | CEO fraud and phishing scams, known as business email compromise (BEC), continue to increase — climbing 150% in the first half of 2022. Yet if you know what to look for, these attacks can be recognized and avoided. Train your employees on how to identify a suspicious email and not click on any of the links.
  3. Appropriate Web Usage | If you leave the entire Web open to employees, be sure to train them on how to only visit secure (https) websites that are work appropriate. Visiting untrustworthy sites can expose the company to cyber threats like ransomware.
  4. Portable Storage Devices’ Best Practices | If your employees use USB drives or external hard drives to store or transport files, training them on how to secure their data is another important step. Portable storage devices can be easily lost, stolen, or misplaced.
  5. Vigilance Equals Protection | When an employee is the source of a security breach, it can negatively impact thousands of lives. Their employer can not only lose customer trust, but they could also face millions of dollars in fines and fees. Employees need to understand these consequences — and that organizational security is everyone’s business.

Implement a Final Layer of Defense

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to prevent cyberattacks or data breaches. The Identity Theft Resource Center reported a historic number of data breaches in 2021, with nearly 300 million individuals having their data compromised as a result. In a breach, that includes your customers and employees.

By offering top-rated identity theft protection as an employee benefit, you underscore the value of data and show the organization’s commitment to protecting it. Demonstrating the organization’s desire to protect employee data can help reinforce the message that everyone in the organization must be vigilant and committed to safeguarding valuable data.

You can experience our suite of protection services for yourself with a business trial.

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