Why Workplace Security Depends on Employees

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), and since its inception more than 15 years ago, it has been led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cybersecurity Alliance. This year’s theme encourages you and your organization to “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.”, referring to following safe online habits and safeguarding all business devices and information collected.

Hackers, viruses, and malware can infiltrate Small to Midsized Businesses’ (SMBs) systems from many different entrances, and each employee — regardless of the industry or their position — is a gatekeeper. Security shouldn’t be an intimidating or abstract idea in your company — it should be rooted in every action and business process, reducing human error and failures, which lead to almost half of all data breaches. A culture of security needs to be persistent and ever-present.

Consider the following guidelines based on this year’s NCSAM theme to encourage personal accountability and practice best security practices:

Own IT.

Owning a device that is interchangeably used for business is a serious responsibility. Take the appropriate steps to protect your company’s BYOD devices:

Secure IT.

Securing company devices is the first line of defense against cyberattacks.

  • Update company logins and advocate the use of strong, unique passphrases.
  • Ensure your business uses two-factor authentication on important accounts.
  • Proactively safeguard devices with innovative Mobile Threat Defense.
  • Educate your employees on how to detect and avoid clicking on phishing links.

Protect IT.

Keeping the data of employees, customers, and the business secured should be a high priority for your whole organization. If you collect it, it’s your job to protect it.

  • Provide a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to safeguard business information outside of the office, especially if employees are using public Wi-Fi.
  • Invest in a private, secure Wi-Fi network for your business to deter access to your business devices.
  • By encrypting your digital data, your business information will be useless to hackers that attempt to attack your organization.

3 Ways to Build a Culture of Security

To build a culture of security in your workplace, here are a few big things you can do to get started:

  1. Get every employee involved. Gather people from different departments and job levels to lead the security charge among all employees. Building your Breach Response Team holds every employee accountable if a data breach occurs.
  2. Incorporate security into everything. Your mission statement, employee handbook, company-wide speeches by the CEO — find ways to work your commitment to security into as many communications as possible to drive the point home that security is a principal focus for your organization.
  3. Make cybersecurity fun. Workplace security doesn’t have to be seen as a burden to your entire staff; find ways to make it fun! Publicly recognize employees who go above and beyond when it comes to cybersecurity and offer prizes or rewards. Create games, hold workshops, and try to find ways to engage your employees without the use of PowerPoint.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is the perfect time to kick start your organization’s culture of security. Start putting these ideas into motion and you’ll immediately improve your company’s odds of keeping sensitive information away from prying eyes.

Tips to Protect Your Small Business

  1. Prohibit the use of Public Wi-Fi. Accessing business documents from an unsecured network allows hackers to infiltrate sensitive information.
  2. Invest in Business Identity Protection. Safeguard your company from the devastating repercussions of a potential cyber threat or data breach, while also protecting your employees’ identities.
  3. Test Your Employees. Conduct quarterly tests to gauge the effectiveness of your cybersecurity policy.