Cybersecurity Training

Employees-weakest-link

Why Employees are the Weakest Link in Your Cybersecurity Business


When many business leaders consider the security of their operation, the first things that come to mind are locks on the doors, proper outdoor lighting, and perhaps a security guard on-site, then they begin to look inward and consider their cybersecurity. Toward that end, they invest in the latest and greatest firewalls, antivirus, anti-malware, firmware, and other software fixes while overlooking the most important aspect of their security integrity: their employees.  Why are employees your greatest cybersecurity threat and what are you to do about it?

The very nature of human beings with their curiosity and need for stimulation, information and novelty make them the prime target for hackers who want to infiltrate your business network and its data.  Therefore, full buy-in of the company security endeavors will require an alliance between IT, which should understand your operating needs and HR, which should comprehend the foibles and psychology of human beings that can make them gateways to cyberattacks. It is simply not good enough that your employees remember to update passwords regularly; they need to understand how a hacked company system affects them directly. To this end, your IT team should work with HR to develop training which garners staff support for the security processes that need to be implemented.

Here are a few of the issues this composite team needs to address:

Impact on the Company of Down Time and Security Breaches – Explain in the clearest terms how downtime in the company network affects everyone. Use examples such as Ransomware or Spear Phishing attacks or other situations in which your business could lose data or computer access – thus affecting the ability of your company to remain in operation and therefore to employ people!

Lack of Awareness – Simple though it may sound, regular training and reiteration of concepts like having strong passwords, proper storage of customer information, use of locking drawers or file cabinets, how the company uses multi-factor authentication and data access principles should be ongoing practices. In addition, all personnel should know how to properly dispose of drives, reports, etc. when they are no longer needed or pertinent. Last here is the need to inform employees of the importance of system/software updates for both company equipment and approved BYOD mobile phones and other devices, as well.

Hazards of Using Unsecured Networks – This is particularly problematic with BYOD environments including commuting vehicles (e.g., the train and subway), cafés, etc. which are typically unsecured networks. Your employees need to be aware that all online activity conducted on such networks can be visible, putting devices and sensitive company information in peril. To minimize this risk, explain the difference between using HTTP and HTTPS prefixed sites – the later carries encryption protocols – on any device (laptop, smartphone, etc.) used for work related activities and help them to understand which work is best left to be performed in the office on company secured devices. Another off-site peril comes from Juice jacking (stealing data by monitoring public charging stations) in which a hacked wireless charging port can allow cybercriminals to record what is being written or watched on a device as well as download programs to said device. Personnel who frequently work outside the office should be trained to understand the risks of using public access networks and a few means of minimizing same, such as plugging into an electrical outlet or using their own powerbank, having different passwords for each app and device they use, and waiting to perform personal interactions until at home and only installing apps from official marketplaces. Best, have them use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) set up by your IT team that provides for encryption of data moving between them and any end user whether they are at home, traveling or otherwise working outside the office.

IoT (Internet of Things): a Door to System Access – With the growing complexity of the business operating environment you may find you have manufacturing equipment as well as simple office equipment such as printers connected wirelessly to your server. These additional pathways offer opportunities for an employee to involuntarily undermine your security by tapping into equipment not meant to be part of their peripherals. In order to minimize this risk, have your IT team set up not only different passwords for this equipment but different router levels, as well, which prevents certain devices from ever ‘seeing’ other devices they shouldn’t. Turning off equipment when not in use will help to mitigate cross system access as well. These steps can also help prevent an unintended internally produced Denial of Service (DoS) attack or Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS) in which equipment or websites crash from an overload of demand.

Don’t forget, your IT team consists of all your employees. To this end, think about the cybersecurity culture you want to create. For instance, have your IT team start broadly sharing new concepts learned trade events , which can keep lines of communication open between departments and can help your staff understand new threats and preventive actions they can take before your business is targeted.

In addition, savvy IT members don’t put all their eggs in one basket; they may like vendor X who provides software X and has worked with them for years but they stay aware for news of failures of this protective service and are willing to jump ship to vendor Y if that is in the best interest of your company. Better, working with an outside company, in addition to your in-house staff, who is not a single service provider and whose sole interest is in being knowledgeable about multiple software security tools, techniques and processes and is willing to embrace your company’s unique business protection requirements can be a valuable asset.

Finally, keep in mind that a disgruntled employee with any system access can pose a threat to your business (e.g., copying trademarked or other business sensitive information for purposes of corporate espionage) and containing them is the territory of HR. However, a coordinated effort between your employees and IT, with the help of training developed actively with HR, will strengthen the personnel link in your cybersecurity chain, in addition to bringing added value to your employee morale due to your consideration of their need to understand, so that they are able to actively participate in protecting your company and their jobs.

Be safe out there!

Read more
Cybersecurity vs Information Security

Cybersecurity vs Information Security: What are the differences?


Cybersecurity vs Information security. I hear you thinking…, What!  I thought cybersecurity WAS information security!  Well, yes, and no.  Let us start with a detailed definition or two.

Cybersecurity vs Information Security

Cybersecurity protects from attacks via cyberspace (that nebulous entity we have all created to work and play in via our technological devices and linkages).  This form of security covers your computers, smart phones, laptops, and other hardware as well as the means of accessing, linking, and communicating through them (think LANs, the internet).

Cybersecurity attacks may target a website your company keeps but are more likely to target the data your company stores and uses to run your business.  This is why information security is important to understand.

Information security concerns itself with the actual raw data your company collects (such as a field requiring a date: MM/DD/YYYY) and the information derived from that data (e.g., a DOB versus a policy renewal date).  This information may be stored digitally (say on a server via the cloud), in an analog format (think about forms or photos in a file cabinet), or both (perhaps a thumbnail drive within a desk drawer).

It is the job of the information security staff to work with a company’s leaders to define and understand what data is most necessary to the successful completion of business tasks and how, in whatever format it exists, it should be protected.

Concerns with Information Security

The primary concerns of information security regarding data are: integrity, confidentiality, and availability.

Integrity – guarding against the improper or accidental modification or destruction of data.

Integrity can be maintained by making sure only permitted persons may edit, modify, delete, or destroy (e.g., shred aged documents) data.  It also includes ensuring authenticity (i.e., being able to verify the identification of a person or process) and nonrepudiation (making sure a sent message or signed document cannot de disputed).

Examples of integrity loss would be analog information not properly protected from environmental conditions (fire, flood, etc.) and so damaged beyond use or digital information improperly transferred or changed without approval.

Confidentiality – reserving access to data – think “need to know” – by preserving authorized restrictions to access and disclosure.

This is especially important for personally identifiable information (PII – such as social security and credit card numbers) and protected health information (PHI).

Here, again, restricting access to those who need the information to perform their job duties is important to protecting information content privacy

A breach of confidentiality may be brought about by human error, intentional sharing of data, malicious entry, etc.

Availability – ensuring that access and use of data is timely and reliable.

Availability is maintained through continuity and functionality of access procedures, backup or duplication of information, and maintenance of hardware and network connections so that data is accessible when needed by the users for daily applications and for business decisions.

As with integrity, a loss of availability can occur when networks are damaged due to natural disasters; or when client devices fail.

In addition, your Information Security personnel should be aware of the many legal and regulatory requirements (like NIST, GDPR [European Union law], HIPPA, and FERPA) of your industry that affect the company’s information security requirements and be able to develop and disseminate guidelines which inform employees on how to protect business sensitive information throughout their work cycle as pertinent to said guidelines.

As you can see, your data damage prevention/recovery and threat mitigation processes will span the information security and cybersecurity assignments making it essential for personnel from both teams to understand the needs of the other and work closely to develop protection protocols for your sensitive business information.

Therefore with the alignment of your cyber and information security teams employees can be trained in the whys and hows of information protection and be helped to understand how conscientious application of developed procedures – whether usually considered as pertinent to cybersecurity (e.g., strong passwords, multi-factor authentication), essential to information security (such as who is responsible for safeguarding sensitive physical material in an emergency), or both (whom to make a report to regarding suspicious activity, keeping mobile devices under lock and key when not in use),. – creates a safer environment for your critical and sensitive business data and aids in keeping your business up and running.

Read Also: Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses

Remember, one cannot have information security without having cybersecurity but cybersecurity has no true value without an understanding of the information to be secured.  And though information security covers digital data in cyberspace it must not forget the analog data lying around the company.

Plan well and take care!

Read more
Cybersecurity training Tips for Employees

6 Cybersecurity Training Tips For Employees


Cybersecurity Training is very important for employees to survive in an industry dominated by growing virtual crime.

Have you read the WEF2019 Global Risks Report?

The report has listed cyber-attacks among the top five global threats over a decade. Data incident has been listed on the fourth spot.

But if you think your organization is too small to be attacked, here is another spooky survey that says that 43% of online attacks are now aimed at small businesses.

Cyber-threats not only destroy your data but also lead to financial losses, tarnished reputations, and downtime.

No matter what the size of your business, you should make your cybersecurity strong; it all starts with your employees.

This is because employees are often the largest security vulnerability.

They can click on malicious links, exposing your information to cybercriminals. They can use infected devices that can inject the virus into your systems. And above all, they can pose as insider threat or your ex-employee can sell your information to your competitor.

Therefore, there is a need for cybersecurity training for your employees which can be built around the key points given below.

6 Cybersecurity Training Tips For Employees

1. Don’t Blame Your Employees:

In the event of a serious data breach, many employers are likely to blame their ill-fated employees that clicked on the malicious stuff. While it’s true they were the ones to get trapped, accusing an individual of lacking the knowledge is a way to avoid the organization’s responsibility to ensure its employees keep its information protected.

The organization should have a plan to ensure their employees have the knowledge they require making the right decision and knowing whom to ask if they have any security-related questions.

You need to be clear about what to do if anyone has security concerns. It prompts you to create the infrastructure required to share new threats as they occur and get everyone involved in data security.

2. Plan and Create a Solid Security Policy:

You need to create and plan a security policy to cover the appropriate topics and secure the use of the company’s system. Make sure your IT security policy covers everything.

Besides, keep it clear and accessible to everyone in your organization. One more thing—your IT security policy should define the roles and responsibilities for control, enforcing, training, controls, and maintenance.

3. Educate on Password Management:

Password Management is a necessary evil for most business owners. With the IT team failing to remind employees, there needs to be a huge change in attitude if you want to fortify your cybersecurity. Moreover, encourage your employees to use strong passwords. This is important because nearly 81% of security incidents are caused by weak ones.

You can simplify their password management by sharing the tips given below:

  • Use a combination of letters, special characters, and numbers. Get creative with passwords
  • Don’t use simple passwords like ABCD, date of birth or house address
  • Don’t share your passwords with anybody
  • Set different password for every device
  • Change your passwords frequently

4. Make it Mandatory for All:

Fire safety isn’t taught to selected employees, right?

Cybersecurity should be treated in the same way. It should be made a top priority and mandatory for everyone. Your employees should be aware of all old-new threats, no matter if they are into accounts, IT or at the front office. Anyone using a computer should be familiar with basic password security and safe internet browsing practices. Share cybersecurity news regularly.

5. Conduct Regular Cybersecurity Sessions:

Admit it. Documented policies are likely to be read once and never looked at again. Therefore, encourage your employees towards cybersecurity with frequent seminars and quick bursts of training. It will keep them informed, engaged and interested.

These small cybersecurity sessions can be built around the use of passwords, safe use of devices and other security concerns. Make sure to test their knowledge regularly. For example, you can check if they are practicing essential cybersecurity protocols. Do they follow the guidelines? Testing their knowledge and vigilance from time to time is important.

Practice this mock drill:

Send them a fake email to see how many clicks it will get. The results can be shown in the seminar or training session, without revealing the names of the employees who clicked these fake phishing emails.

6. Train Employees to Recognize Phishing Threats:

As we have reviewed, some of the vicious cyber-crimes are caused by human error. Cybercriminals can trick the users into something malicious by using fake email addresses and domains. For example, they might pose themselves as a reputed bank in their emails asking for personal information or bank account details.

In this scenario, employees are required to be taught how to identify such malicious links.

Bottom Line:

There are many more tips on cybersecurity training. However, practicing these key measures will provide overall protection to your data. With improved cybersecurity, you can minimize the risk of cyber-threats across your organization.

It not only secures your system and data but also adds to the reputation of your organization.

What do you think? Let us know by commenting below.

Read more