With vulnerabilities and threats to business organizations on the rise, it becomes increasingly necessary to train employees to understand the various facets of network security. Why? Because your employees are your first line of defence against cyber threats!phis

For organizations to be safe from outside attacks, simply investing in new technology won’t help. As a business owner, you have to ensure your employees are well aware of potential threats and know how to avoid common pitfalls. But before placing the onus of network security on your employees, you need to train them right so they aren’t easy prey for attackers!

Here are 8 tips employers can pass on to employees for increased network security for SMBs.

1. Keep Desks Organized

If your employees have messy desks, there’s a possibility that they’re leaving their smartphones and USB drives out in the open. While searching for these devices among a million other things can waste time, a cluttered desk is an easy target for insiders with malicious intent. What’s more, clutter delays the discovery of theft, allowing greater damage and making it hard to determine who the perpetrator is!

Ensure employees aren’t leaving sensitive information and data-storage devices out on their desks, but locked up in drawers or cabinets. Items like drawer keys and security badges should always be on the person instead of carelessly lying about on the desk.

2. Avoid Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are a common security challenge faced by businesses and a primary e-mail threat for employees. Since it’s easy for victims to fall prey to phishing and the scope of these attacks is expanding, businesses need to outline e-mail security best practices for employees so as to increase security.

As a rule of thumb, sharing personal or financial information via e-mail must be avoided at all costs. Employees should refrain from replying to suspicious e-mails that appear to be sent by C-level executives or well-known companies. In the event of receiving such e-mails, employees should get in touch with the assumed sender using contact information available on said company’s website instead of hitting the ‘Reply’ button.

3. Browse Securely

Malicious websites trick users by mimicking legitimate websites; paying attention to website URLs can help evade an attack. Be wary of differences in domains, for example, .org instead of .com, and variations in spellings.

Another key precaution to take is to check the security measures applied by websites before sending sensitive information. If a website URL starts with HTTP instead of HTTPS, it doesn’t have SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates. As any network security consultant will tell you, carrying out transactions on such websites can put your data at risk!

Be careful when browsing trustworthy websites too! Malvertising is the practice of distributing malware through online advertising; malicious code can be hidden within ads, bundled with software downloads, or embedded on website pages.

4. Download Wisely

Downloading content from the Internet can open up devices and networks to a number of security threats. Browsing the web securely, as detailed in the previous point, can cut down the risks, but employees must be extra cautious when downloading anything.

Note that free downloads pose a greater security threat, so ensure security by downloading paid files, if possible. You’ll still have to research the site well first! Another way to ensure safety is to read download reviews available on some sites and pay heed to any warnings posted by users.

Also, remember to exercise caution when clicking the ‘Download’ button; sometimes, clicking on it can take you to another website that could pose a security risk to your system and network.

5. Don’t Go Simple with Passwords

Multi-factor or two-factor authentication verifies user identity using more than one authentication method. Enable the same for access to accounts so as to make it harder for hackers to steal confidential data. Have a password policy in place that requires employees to choose strong passwords. Set up automatic password updates, but don’t make them too frequent or your employees might resort to writing down passwords to remember them!

Emphasize on having different passwords for each account or login credential. It’s also important to avoid having common usernames, shared passwords, and using the browser auto-fill function.

6. Reduce BYOD Risks

Allowing employees to bring their own devices to the workplace for use with company networks and information is a growing trend worldwide. Key benefits include reduced IT and operating costs for the business, and increased productivity, mobility and appeal for employees. That being said, BYOD also comes with increased information security risks!

Have a BYOD policy in place that outlines basic concerns like which employees are eligible for this program, what devices are supported, and what access levels are granted to employees when using personal devices. Also detail rules and regulations that employees must adhere to, security measures to be taken, and consequences of policy violations.

Employers must ensure password protected access controls, mandate backing up data and using updated software, and assist employees with antivirus and scanning tools. Since small to medium-sized businesses might not have the privilege of being able to hire a team of IT professionals for these tasks, hiring IT security company is a feasible solution!

7. Make Remote Working Secure

Significant advancements in technology have made it possible for people to work from locations outside of office spaces. Even as this is extremely beneficial to both employers and employees, diffusion and decentralization of computing infrastructure makes data and network security a challenge.

While having strong passwords is necessary, keeping mobiles, laptops, and storage devices under lock and key is equally important. Employees should be advised against storing these devices in hotel safes or leaving them unattended in their homes or cars. Installing mobile device management apps to help secure and recover lost mobiles and tablets is a good preventive measure.

In addition to this, employees should make an effort to be discreet when entering passwords to unlock devices or log into accounts. Using public WiFi for sensitive or critical activities should be strictly avoided. When using a public computer, employees can ward away attacks by using private browsing, and clearing browsing history and deleting downloads before logging out.

8. Recognize Attacks

Viruses, worms, and other malicious programs are able to infect systems faster than ever before. Since security risks to businesses are huge, it’s essential for attacks to be identified as early as possible and dealt with immediately in the right manner to prevent excess damage.

While receiving mysterious e-mails is one way of identifying a potential security attack, employees should also be on the lookout for unusual password activity on their accounts. If an employee receives an e-mail stating their password has been changed or that they’ve logged in from an unusual location, it’s a potential sign of a security breach and should be brought to the notice of the network security services Ohio team right away.

Network speed that is slower than usual is also an indication of attempted network breach. Hacking attempts or malware outbreaks can result in increased network traffic, thereby affecting Internet speed.

A word of advice for employers and higher management: Never make fun of or discourage employees for raising a red flag, even if it is a false alarm.

Conclusion

Needless to say, well-trained employees that understand the role they have to play in keeping critical business information protected are invaluable to your business. Simply training employees isn’t enough; network security is a mindset, and employees must realize that being careless or ignorant of safety measures can put everything at stake.

Lastly, security training must always be an ongoing process at your organization. Once-a-year training sessions won’t suffice; you’ll just be cramming too much information in a day for employees to be able to take it all in. Schedule training sessions packed with concise information through the year. This way, new employees won’t miss out on anything important.

Remember that top-level employees, including yourself, and IT personnel also need to be equally involved when it comes to network security!

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