By Sage Singleton
Your employees are the lifeblood of your business and may be among the most trusted people in your inner circle. However, regardless of how trustworthy your employees are, when they remain uneducated about digital security threats, they can negatively impact the safety, security, and profits of your business. In fact, the most recent data suggests over 33 million records have been accidentally compromised since 2005—with over 1 billion records compromised in total.
To help you keep your company secure, this article will identify four areas where employees can negatively impact the security of your business, and what employers can do to prevent breaches.
1. Avoid Internal Employee Theft
Did you know that 68% of small businesses fall victim to employee theft? While it’s easier to quantify cash losses, it’s important to remember that digital employee theft is also a potential risk. This means any digital technology or sensitive information your employees have access to is at risk.
To protect your agency from employee theft, you have three main security options. The first is to create an Acceptable Use Policy for your employees. This step will help educate your employees about what is and what is not appropriate internet behavior and device use at work. Spell out the risks and responsibilities to employees so they clearly understand how to hold up their end of the deal.
For additional security, use a monitoring software. With a monitoring software, you can monitor and record employee screens, take screen shots, check email, and look into internet history for certain keywords and file types. Finally, you also need security cameras to monitor employee activity that happens off screen.
2. Protect your Clients from Identity Theft
The recent Equifax data hack is a reminder that keeping confidential documents safe at work is mandatory. The first way to keep your documents safe is to specify what types of devices may and may not be connected to your network, and then set up precautions so rules can’t be broken. For example, it’s easy to disable USB ports and CD drives on all company computers. This will ensure no internal staff can connect and download information via external devices.
Additionally, if your firm has sensitive client information on hand, you may want to set up a firewall to block access to any cloud storage sites like Google Drive or Dropbox. You can also lock down networks to prevent unauthorized Bluetooth and Wi-Fi access.
Not all identity theft happens internally, so you need to also make sure your network, data, and online usage is secure. You can secure your network by making sure employees set strong passwords, you change the default security settings on all equipment including routers, and that you access the internet only with an HTTP connection.
3. Keep Malware Downloads at Bay
Not every employee understands the ins and outs of internet scams, and they may accidentally download malware. This threatens digital security and can threaten the security of your business. To prevent malware downloads, take the following precautions.
First, take the time to educate your employees about how malware gets downloaded. Educate them on all internet scams, the dangers of opening strange attachments and unsolicited email, and other methods hackers use to gain sensitive information. Knowledge is often your best form of protection from malware, and it’s up to you to help educate your employees.
Hackers are getting more and more creative, so to stay ahead of the curve, you also want to make sure you update your IT systems regularly to ensure you are protected from malicious internet content. This means updating antivirus software and patches regularly rather than once or twice a year.
To take security a step further, invest in the best antivirus software. In other words, find a software that filters and blocks malicious content for you. That way, you won’t have to worry about employees downloading content they shouldn’t.
4. Enhance Your Social Media Security
When you think of digital security, it probably conjures up images of cybersecurity, malware attacks, and hackers. What you might not immediately think of, however, are attacks to your brand on social media. The character and reputation of all businesses remain vulnerable on social media, and it’s important to train your employees to keep a lookout for potential threats to your brand.
To keep your brand secure, hire an employee to keep an eye out on social media for fake accounts that purport to be your brand. For example, if you don’t have a company Twitter account, and your employee notices that a Twitter account claiming to be you pops up, take action to suspend that Twitter account.
Along the same lines, it’s wise to hire an employee to handle online reputation management. Their role should include managing your social media profiles, addressing negative reviews, managing customers service complaints, and staying on the lookout for brand imposters.
Remember hackers posing as you on social media isn’t the only social media security threat. When employees use social media at work, it acts as another potential gateway for hackers to access your system. To avoid security breaches, limit access to social networks, monitor social activity at work, or even institute a policy where you prohibit employees from accessing social networks from work computers.
According to the 19th Annual Global CEO Survey, 61% of CEOs worry about how the cyber security of their company will impact growth, and it’s with good cause. As you can see, there are several ways employees can impact the security of your company, whether or not they intend to invoke harm or not. As a business owner, it’s important to teach your employees about security and safeguard your business from internal and external threats. You can do this by incorporating the advice listed above.
Sage Singleton is a safety expert who enjoys providing individuals, families, and businesses helpful insights and tips to make the community a better, safer place. Her work has been featured on sites like Venture Beat, USA Today, MSN, and Huffington Post. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, and travelling.