How to Train Employees to Safeguard Against Hackers

employee training puzzle pieceHackers can cause all kinds of problems with a business. In addition to planting viruses, worms, spyware, and more, hackers can steal sensitive customer, employee, and business data.  These criminals will use this information to hijack identities and make a profit.

One of the latest threats many businesses face comes in the form of ransomware. This is when hackers infiltrate a computer or network and take files hostage by encrypting them. Businesses that want to regain their data have to figure out how to break the encryption, which is next to impossible, pay up in the time allotted, or lose access to their information for good.

The worst part about hackers gaining entry to a business’s virtual operation is the damage they leave in their wake. Perhaps just as disconcerting is how often employees are to blame for letting hackers gain access. The best security measures in the world won’t work if employees are holding open the virtual front door for hackers.

As a result, you not only need to make sure you have appropriate cyber security in place; you also must take steps to train employees to spot threats, behave in an appropriate manner, and act as a line of defense against hackers. Here are a few things you should include in your training program.

Policies and Procedures

As a business owner you enact any number of policies and procedures designed to maintain a safe, efficient, and productive workplace. Some policies (like sexual harassment or discrimination training) curb offensive employee behavior and limit your liability.

Other policies like NDAs and non-compete clauses help to protect your business from leaks that could compromise confidential data. You also need to develop policies and procedures intended to teach employees how to safeguard against hackers.

You could, for example, enact behavioral policies that spell out how employees should use your network resources. Employees should not open emails from unknown senders or click suspicious links. Above all they should heed the advice of software warnings when they try to access dangerous websites.

Policies and procedures designed to safeguard against hacking could pertain to password protection, network usage, and even sharing information between employees. Taking the time to list your expectations and make employees aware can only help to keep your operation safe from hackers.

Strong Passwords

Cracking passwords is one common way that hackers make their way into your system.  Luckily, there is a lot you can do to ensure greater protections in this area. A good start is to select software that prompts users to create strong passwords (requiring 8-12 characters and a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols) and requires employees to change passwords regularly.

Your software shouldn’t do half of a hacker’s job for them by repopulating fields when the login information entered is incorrect. Instead of leaving the name in place when the password is wrong (alerting hackers that they have the correct name), all fields should be automatically cleared.

You also need to make it clear that there will be serious consequences if employees share passwords, even with fellow coworkers. Compartmentalization of data, authorization for access to different areas, and password protections only work if individual passwords remain confidential.

Recognizing Threats

There are many ways in which hackers can target your employees. They can attach spyware and malware to seemingly innocuous links or downloads thereby piggy-backing on other programs to gain access to your system.

Employees must be trained to spot these scams in order to avoid them. Your security software can go a long way toward protecting your company from hackers, but when employees understand potential threats and how they might contribute to the problem, there’s a much better chance all of your protective components will work together.

Backups

Even with proper training, employees can still make mistakes that open you up to hackers. The best defense is always a good offense.

Having backup protocols in place could help minimize damage if employees slip up and hackers find a way in. A monitoring service is a good place to start, but you should also have system backups in place so that you can shut everything down, lock hackers out, and revert to a recent save point so as to resume business operations post haste.