The importance of cybersecurity awareness among remote employees

Published on June 4, 2021

When it comes to a possible cyber-attack, how vigilant are your remote employees?

The current work-from-home setup makes it challenging for any company to promote cybersecurity awareness among its staff.

But as you run most—if not all—of your operations online, there’s no better time to ramp up your security efforts than now.

Employees are your weakest link

Employees serve as the major access point for cybercriminals. A simple e-mail could trick employees into giving away sensitive information in exchange for a freebie that never even existed.

Or, they could inadvertently leak company information on their social media feeds by posting a random selfie with your customer’s data lurking in the background.

These simple, unconscious mistakes could cost your company millions of dollars if you don’t create a cybersecurity awareness strategy early.

A recent report published by McAfee Corp. revealed that the true cost of cybercrime involves these different areas:

  • System Downtime – the average cost to organizations from their longest amount of downtime was $762,231.
  • Reduced Efficiency – the average time it takes for a cyber-attack to interrupt operations is 18 hours, leading to reduced efficiency.
  • Costs to Incidence Response – organizations spent an average of 19 hours to discover a cyber incident to its remediation. While some companies have their in-house IT administrators to investigate the breach, major incidents still require the expertise of external consults—which can be very costly.
  • Damage to Brand and Reputation – companies that experienced downtime due to a cyberattack also faced reputational damage. There are costs involved in rehabilitating the external image of an organization, like hiring a PR firm to perform crisis management.

Given this, raising cybersecurity awareness among the company’s managers and employees is critical to building resiliency, ensuring business continuity, and preventing insurmountable costs that come with downtime.

How to promote cybersecurity awareness to remote employees

how to promote cyber awareness

1. Send cybersecurity tips to employees regularly

A study conducted by IBM and Cyber Security Intelligence revealed that human error constitutes 95% of all cybersecurity breaches. This means that if employees know what to do in case there is an attack, 19 out of 20 breaches may not have occurred.

These incidences are preventable, and it starts when employees are trained to spot malware attacks when they happen.

In the world of cybersecurity, human error means unintentional actions (or the lack thereof) by end-users that caused a cyber attack.

To keep this from happening, create a campaign that educates your staff on what a malware attack looks like.

You can also send daily or weekly tips on how employees can secure your organization’s computer systems.

For example, send out regular cybersecurity tips via e-mail about the use of multifactor authentication, how to update their antivirus and data encryption tools, and how to properly store and dispose physical documents that contain sensitive information.

That way, your staff is constantly reminded to cooperate in protecting the company against cyber threats.

2. Conduct cybersecurity sessions or virtual simulations

We all know the saying, “Experience is the best teacher.”

While we’re not waiting for a breach to actually happen before you educate your employees, conducting virtual simulations of an attack will help them visualize how it looks like in real life.

Even when you’re regularly sending security protocols via e-mail, your employees still need to see a simulated phishing scam so you can show them how to respond.

Just remember that staging fake cybersecurity attacks do not aim to identify which of your employees are prone to putting your organization to risk.

Rather, the virtual simulations allow you to demonstrate how employees should respond to an attack when it tries to get in your system.

To do this, set a virtual meeting with every company department to conduct the simulation.

It helps to create staged cyber-attacks per group in your company since every team operates differently.

For example, you can mimic what your finance department is doing daily and create virtual simulations centered on their activities. The same goes with your sales and customer support teams, which interact with your customers every day.

Creating personalized simulations will help your staff understand the scenarios better because it’s close to their day-to-day responsibilities.

3. Make sure your employees know who to contact

If you have a dedicated team that manages and mitigates cyber breaches, make sure that your employees can easily reach them.

Cyber attacks are unpredictable. They don’t wait until you’re out of the office before breaching your network. They will come at you anytime, anywhere, and through any device.

When this happens, make sure that everyone in your organization knows who to contact in case they experience a cyber breach or receive a suspicious e-mail.

If you don’t have a team that manages your cybersecurity, your IT personnel can take on the job. Your IT administrator has the technical skills to assess malicious content at first glance.

They can also determine if the attack is a major incident. In most cases, you’ll need the expertise of a third-party IT and cybersecurity provider to give you the right solution.

What matters is for your organization to resolve the incident before it gets worse.

4. Hold cybersecurity training

Malicious e-mails don’t always come from anonymous sources. In fact, cybercriminals can pretend to be people you already know—your friend, colleague, or even a relative—and lure you into opening infected attachments.

This is where the importance of cybersecurity training comes in: it gets easier to identify malicious content because your employees have the eye to identify which is a potential threat and which isn’t.

All employees at every level of the organization should get cybersecurity training to ensure that they become familiar will the different types of attack and how to respond to them.

Also, having the right cybersecurity awareness training can give employees more confidence in their work. They become less likely to make the kind of human error that puts your and your client’s data to risk.

Now is the time to ramp up your cybersecurity awareness

Cybercriminals will stop at nothing to steal your sensitive information. But as long as your employees are well-aware of the looming cyber threats, you are in a much better position to survive the new normal.

Don’t wait for your company to be the next target. Our experts at CyberHAWKS can help you plan your cybersecurity strategy. Contact us for more info.

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