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Blog 14

10 Cyber Security Tips for Employees

Every employee, regardless of their role or seniority, plays a crucial part in maintaining the cybersecurity health of their organization. Cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated, and the potential impact on your company can be severe, ranging from data breaches to financial loss. Not only will these cyber security tips help keep your company safe, but also the devices you work on every day.

Cyber Security Tips

Adopting robust cybersecurity measures can sometimes feel overwhelming. However, with the right habits and awareness, every employee can contribute to the safety and security of their organization. Cyber security is not just the IT team’s responsibility. If you are a business manager or owner, it is your responsibility to ensure your employees are equipped with security awareness knowledge. Cyber security in the workplace goes beyond just the security policy. Below, we explore ten essential cyber security tips that can be seamlessly integrated into your daily work routine.

#1 Understand the Importance of Strong Passwords

Creating strong, unique passwords for each account is your first line of defense against cyber intruders. Ideally, a strong password must include a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid common words and predictable sequences.

It may be tempting to use passwords you are familiar with so that you’re confident you won’t forget it, however, using the same passwords across accounts is very risky! Better safe than sorry – create strong, unique passwords for your work accounts.

Better still, if your company doesn’t use one already, suggest that it looks at implementing a Password Manager – it will make your life much easier and the company vastly more secure.

#2 The Role of Two-Factor Authentication and Multi-Factor Authentication

When you log in using only a username and password, that’s Single-Factor Authentication. The risk around this is having a username that could easily be guessed (most often an email address), using weak passwords, or having your credentials stolen in an internal or external hack.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) means an additional authentication is required after inputting your username and password, for example an sms with one-time PIN or a code generated from an Authenticator app. Like Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an additional authentication to 2FA like biometric verification such as fingerprint scans or face ID.

Sometimes 2FA and MFA are terms used interchangeably but now you can see that while all 2FA is essentially MFA, not all MFA is 2FA.

#3 Recognizing Phishing Attempts

Phishing is when a hacker typically sends an email that looks like they’re from a legitimate source with the purpose of trying to gain sensitive information like username and password credentials. These phishing attacks are getting more sophisticated in order to lure unsuspecting recipients into divulging information. Be very suspicious of emails that ask for personal information or urge you to click on a link.

Pay attention to the sender of the email. One can often spot phishing attempts by the email account name it was sent from. Or hover your mouse over the hyperlink to see what is really there before clicking. If it does not look like the legitimate contact from the company in question, chances are it isn’t. Proceed with caution or confirm with them if you are unsure. Don’t try to confirm by replying to the same email (!).

#4 Secure Use of Personal Devices

Using personal devices for work (BYOD – Bring Your Own Device) increases convenience but also raises risks. Ensure that any personal device used for work purposes is secured and complies with your company’s cybersecurity policies. One dodgy link could corrupt your company and your device! Make sure you have a reliable antivirus installed and run malware scans on a regular basis.

#5 Regular Software Updates

Unless your company manages overall updates, this is important for all employees to be cognizant of. Software updates include bug fixes, security updates and new features. Keeping software and operating systems up-to-date is crucial in protecting against vulnerabilities. Automate updates when possible or set a regular schedule to check for and install updates manually. Hackers will often scan for vulnerabilities and take advantage of systems that are not updated.

#6 Safe Internet Habits

When browsing online, be mindful of the websites you visit and the information you share. As a rule of thumb, never share any personal information unless you HAVE to. Avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive activities unless you are connected through a secure VPN. If you are using your own device for work purposes, don’t save login information if you share your device with others. Even if you trust the people who use your device, they may not be aware of the security policies in place or may unintentionally access unsecure sites while logged in with your work accounts.

#7 Email Attachments and Links

One of the most overlooked cyber security tips is checking emails VERY carefully. This can be challenging when we’re trying to work too quickly… We’ve talked about specific phishing emails, but bad actors have varying objectives which may also include inserting malware or ransomware. Again, be cautious with email attachments and links, even if they appear to come from a trusted source. Verify the sender’s details and scan attachments with antivirus software before opening.

#8 Data Backup

Unless your company manages the overall backups, make a habit of doing regular backups. Backup important data to a secure location such as cloud storage or a secure external disk. Spend time working out the easiest way to implement this and to be able to adhere to it. This can be a lifesaver in the event of data loss due to cyberattacks or other incidents.

#9 Educate Yourself on the Latest Cyber Threats

Stay educated and informed about the latest cybersecurity threats and trends. This can help you keep up with the latest scams and tricks. Educate yourself about risk mitigation and how to identify common cyber threats.

#10 Report Suspicious Activities

If you notice any unusual activity on your work accounts or devices, report it immediately to your IT or cybersecurity team. Early detection can prevent the spread of cyber threats and can help mitigate further damage.

If you’re ever unsure about something that seems suspicious, report it to all involved parties and verify legitimacy with them. If you see something, say something!

Final Thoughts

Cybersecurity is truly a shared responsibility, and every employee has a role to play in safeguarding their organization’s digital assets. By implementing these ten cyber security tips, you can contribute to a more secure workplace.

Create a checklist of security measures to remember and consider sharing it with your coworkers. Remember, a vigilant employee is the best defense against cyber threats.

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