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New Employees Can Be a Cybersecurity Risk. Here Are 5 Simple Practices You Can Teach Them During Onboarding

Employee cybersecurity training is becoming an important best practice for organizations, and for good reason. In fact, more than half of small business owners name employee error as the biggest information security risk to their companies.

Many organizations hold annual security training for their employees, which is an important practice that should remain in place. That said, there’s great value in training new employees on cybersecurity during the onboarding process instead of waiting until an annual security training rolls around. While new employees bring skills and experience to the team, they could also bring significant risk if they were never properly educated on cybersecurity practices at previous jobs.

Including security training as part of the initial employee onboarding process makes it clear to new hires that they play a critical role in maintaining the company’s privacy and security, as well as protecting sensitive customer information. It also educates them on key cybersecurity principles, such as how to recognize and avoid common threats, the importance of strong passwords, and the risks of unsecured devices, such as their personal cell phone.

Since cybersecurity is such a broad topic, you might be wondering what to focus on when training your employees. Here are a few of the most important cybersecurity lessons to communicate to new employees as soon as they join the team.

1. Avoid phishing scams.

Phishing scams are a huge cybersecurity threat to companies, playing a role in 91 percent of all data breaches. That’s why it’s essential to teach new employees how to recognize and avoid possible phishing attacks. Be sure to educate them about spear phishing emails, which appear to come from a trustworthy sender but are actually designed to steal sensitive company data. These emails often come from someone high up at the organization, like the CEO.

Teach employees to be vigilant when checking their emails, and to be cautious if an email from a coworker contains lots of typos or asks for sensitive information. If they receive emails that seem suspicious, instruct them to verify the email address to make sure it originated from the actual sender. In addition, educate your new employees to hover their mouse over any links in emails to see where they will take them.

2. Keep up with security patches and software updates.

Another important lesson to teach your employees is to stay on top of security patches and software updates. While it’s easy to click the “update later button” on software update notifications, ignoring them can put devices – and your company – at risk. Security patches and updates are designed to repair vulnerabilities in your device or software and should be installed immediately. Instruct new employees to check their devices for software updates regularly and to install them right away.

3. Avoid unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Be sure to educate your employees about the dangers of unsecured Wi-Fi networks and how to protect their devices when using public Wi-Fi. This is especially important if you let your employees work remotely or set up permissions so they can access work communications outside of the office. Your employees need to understand that bad actors often linger on unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, hoping to launch a man-in-the-middle attack and steal their sensitive information. If your employees want to connect to public Wi-Fi, make sure they use a virtual private network (VPN) to secure their connection and protect company data.

4. Stick to company-sponsored apps and tools.

During cybersecurity training, stress the importance of sticking to apps and online tools that are company-approved. If employees avoid using employer-mandated tools and opt for their preferred apps instead, they create risk by spreading sensitive company information on systems outside the company’s control. Teach new employees about the dangers of circumventing company-sponsored apps and provide in-depth training on approved tools so employees don’t feel the need to seek out alternatives.

5. Create strong passwords.

Communicating the importance of using strong passwords is an important step to secure sensitive company data. Creating a strong password by using a password generator or a password manager can help secure accounts and prevent cyberattacks. An important point to make with your employees is not only to focus on using strong passwords, but to ensure they are not using the same password on all of their logins.

Employee cybersecurity education is essential for companies of all sizes. In fact, employee cybersecurity training might be even more important for small businesses, which rarely have access to the resources and sophisticated IT teams that large corporations rely on to protect their organizations.

For this reason, small businesses need to take a proactive approach to educating new employees on cybersecurity best practices. By including cybersecurity training during the onboarding process, you can lay the groundwork for your company and employees’ long-term success.

inc

6 tips to protect your personal information when using public Wi-Fi

As the Internet has become a crucial part of everyday life, so too has the need to access it virtually anytime, anywhere.

In fact, according to a recent survey completed by Symantec, over 66 per cent of Canadians consider access to public Wi-Fi when making travel or entertainment arrangements.

Based on these numbers – and the risk of using public networks – it’s important to know how to protect yourself. Here are six tips you can use to protect your personal information on public Wi-Fi networks, before and after you connect.

Before you log on

Keep on top of security updates

As the world learned from the WannaCry ransomware attack, which started by delaying a Windows update and went on to affect hundreds of thousands of computers, staying on top of software updates is the most prudent way to protect yourself against hackers and cybercriminals.

According to Forbes, “there’s no magic bullet to data security,” and diligently running updates for your operating system and web browser is one of the primary ways to protect yourself.

Turn off file-sharing and close shared folders on your laptop

While shared folders can be a great way to work collaboratively with colleagues, and share photos amongst family, make sure to close them and turn off file-sharing before logging onto a public network with your laptop or mobile device.

A blog post from the online security company Zone Alert states that once your computer connects to a public Wi-Fi service, those folders can be viewed by anyone else on the network. A public Wi-Fi field guide from Gizmodo concurs with this suggestion.

To avoid any information falling into the wrong hands, users should adjust their privacy settings to ensure they are different for public and private networks.

Enable 2-factor authentication on any accounts that contain personal information

Two-factor authentication is a good option for anyone desiring a second layer of security on their physical electronic devices, including their mobile device and laptop.

Enabling multiple layers of authentication on email, social networking and bank accounts can also act as an additional line of defence against cyber criminals lurking on public networks, reports The Next Web.

Use a VPN (virtual private network)

One of the most effective ways to protect your information while using public Wi-Fi is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Simply download a VPN app on your phone or mobile device and log into your VPN before connecting to the Internet.

A VPN reroutes your traffic through a private, encrypted network. Kevin Haley, director of product management for security response at Symantec, explains exactly why a VPN is so useful.

“What you’re doing is, within a public network, creating a private network that’s just for you, if you will,” Haley says.

“The other way it’s referred to is a tunnel. It’s really just making sure that your communication is surrounded by protection as you talk between where you are and wherever, the website that you’re going to.”

According to PCMag, some of the best VPN services of 2017 include NordVPN and Private Internet Access for Android, or KeepSolid or NordVPN for iPhone.

After you log on

Avoid signing in to accounts that contain personal information, including social media and online banking

Assuming that you’ve taken precautions beforehand, the next step is to be cautious after logging onto a public network. One of the best ways to play it safe is to avoid logging into any accounts that contain personal information, such as social media, work email and especially, online banking.

Haley pointed out that even though a website itself might be reputable, personal information still isn’t secure as long as the network is insecure.

While email remains relatively low-risk, Stephen Neville, founder of the Centre for Advanced Security at the University of Victoria, noted in an email that any financial transactions should never be completed over a public network.

“If you use encrypted transmissions, wireless access points offer reasonable security for low-risk activities, e.g. email, and security, that is more or less on par with a wired connection. But the security is insufficient for any higher-risk things like e-banking,” Neville wrote.

Make sure the URL is encrypted

It’s also helpful for users to know how to identify whether a website has taken steps to protect their information. Users can do this by checking the beginning of a URL to see whether it begins with HTTP or HTTPS.

Haley explained that website URLs containing HTTPS use an SSL encryption to protect visitors to their site. Sites that use HTTPS will also show a small padlock next to the search bar.

“Users just need to look for the little lock that’s in the browser bar, and that tells you that your traffic is being encrypted,” said Haley.

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