It is easy to think your small business is safe from the types of threats faced by larger companies, but this is not really true. While your data may not be the most sought after, people will happily steal it nonetheless. In fact, small businesses are high on the target list for many hackers because fewer security measures mean easier access.
Shoring up your defenses is a multi-pronged strategy, and one of the most crucial elements is educating your employees about network security best practices. While a lot of it may seem like common sense, it may not be top-of-mind; they may not realize why certain activities are so problematic, and the myriad consequences that can result. No matter the firewalls or how great your virus protection software is, we can’t block every threat, and in many ways, your employees are the front line of defense.
Know Training Has to Be Ongoing
Hackers are pretty clever, and are always on the lookout to exploit loopholes; their schemes are increasingly sophisticated. So, to get the most leverage out of teaching your employees how to keep information safe, this education must be ongoing. Send out those reminders to change passwords every few months. Let them know about any new schemes that are making their way around the information highway. You can get a daily security tip from the SANS institute, and send it out to your employees.
Let Them Know Where to Get Help
Make sure your employees know where to find the support they need, should they encounter a situation they are not sure to handle, or if they have any questions. Give them the names and contact information of your in-house support staff, or the support personnel of your third party service provider. It is also important that you let them know what should be done—or not done—while waiting on support.
Write Very Clear Guidelines and an Acceptable Use Policy
There is no better way to help get your employees on board than clearly outlining what they can and cannot do online, how to respond to security incidents and how to best protect the network. Thoroughly writing out guidelines and an internet use policy is crucial. Make it very clear what sorts of websites are to be avoided; educate employees on what constitutes suspicious email files, when they receive information that may be part of a phishing scam or what actions may expose the computer to a virus. Make it easy for them to know what to do and not to do by getting it all down in an easily accessible document.
Make Things Easy
Make things as easy as possible for your employees to comply with various security measures. Include automatic prompts in applications to change the password at whatever interval you prefer. Have anti-virus and other programs automatically update when it won’t interfere with your employees trying to get their work done.
These are just a few tips to get you started. As you can see, improving security through employee education is not actually all that difficult, it just requires you to actually start implementing such measures, and making a commitment to training.