Cyber Security Awareness for Small Businesses

By 02/20/2021 March 8th, 2021 Security
cybersecurity training and awareness

Online attacks are a chronic problem in the business world. If you have any sort of online component to your organization, you are vulnerable. When people imagine cybercriminals, they think of movie-style hackers frantically typing at a keyboard to break through a firewall. However, the reality is rarely so dramatic.

 

What is Cyber Security awareness?

It only takes one downloaded attachment for a criminal to gain access to the data on your server. It used to be that suspicious emails were easy to spot. These days, criminals have moved from general phishing attacks to direct spear-phishing or whaling attacks. Part of their preparation includes learning personal details about the target from public sources like social media. The cyberattack is now hidden in what looks like a legitimate email from a friend or colleague.

Security awareness involves teaching employees about the most recent threats to a business’s data and how to avoid them. It also includes explaining a business’s security standards and policies. By helping employees understand the reasons for security practices, they are more likely to follow the rules.

 

Why is security awareness critical?

Malware and ransomware threats continue to grow. With every new piece of hardware or software, cybercriminals look for vulnerabilities. Small businesses that do not have a large IT department must be especially aware of these dangers. Although they may not have as much customer data as a large corporation, weaker security practices can make them attractive targets.

Teaching security awareness is essential because a data breach can bring painful consequences to a business. Resolving a successful ransomware attack is an expensive proposition whether you pay the ransom or hire an IT service to fix the problem. Stolen customer data will lead to a long-term lack of trust and a loss of loyal clients. If your business is involved with global clients, you can be fined under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation for failure to comply with safety precautions.

 

What are the benefits of developing an awareness program?

Preventive training can be a tough sell. The main benefits of online safety training are the adverse events that will not happen. Businesses that engage in this type of education are protecting themselves from dealing with worst-case scenarios.

However, cyber safety training will bring positive benefits to your organization. Educated employees will minimize the amount of time and money lost to recovery after a breach. They will also feel more confident as they use new technology. Cyber threats will become less of a mystery when your employees know what to look for.

It is also an excellent practice to let your clients know that you pay regular attention to data security and online safety. Knowing that you care about protecting their information will increase their confidence in your business. A commitment to safety can help you stand out from your competition.

 

What topics should you cover?

Information technology covers a broad range of topics, and no one expects your employees to become security experts. However, security awareness training should cover the areas where human error is most likely to open the way for a breach.

 

Current Cyber Threats

While employees do not need to know the technical specifics of each type of malware, they should have a general sense of how these programs work. Most importantly, they must understand the strategies criminals use to deploy them. Armed with this information, they will avoid opening unfamiliar emails or downloading unexpected files.

 

Password Protection

Weak passwords are the bane of small businesses. Due to limited budgets, smaller organizations often share equipment among employees. To minimize the inconvenience of remembering a strong password, they may use the same password for every device or fail to use a password at all. After training, employees should understand what makes a strong password and why using one for every device is a necessary practice.

Device and Network Policies

Some businesses employ remote options for their employees. Workers can connect to the business network from a home computer. Sales staff may use smartphones or tablets while they are on the road. While these practices offer flexibility, they can also create security hazards. An unattended laptop with an active network connection can give a criminal direct access to sensitive data. Every business must establish and explain its security protocols around remote devices and connections.

 

Reporting Threats

When there is a breach, it is critical to handle it right away to minimize any damage. No one wants to receive blame for the problem, but it will not go away on its own. Employees must learn the procedure for reporting security attacks whether they are successful or not. When employees recognize a bogus email, they can alert their coworkers so that everyone is on the lookout for the latest phishing attack.

 

How does security awareness training work?

Developing security awareness is an ongoing process. There are always new threats in development, and employees must learn how to avoid them. An annual training session may not be enough to meet the challenge. Business leaders should look for several opportunities for security training every year.

 

During Onboarding

When you welcome new employees to your business, online safety should be part of the training. Explaining your policies will help establish a culture of Cyber Security.

 

Hardware or Software Upgrades

Adopting new technology is an appropriate time for a refresher course on safety. As people sep up their new devices, you can remind them of the importance of strong passwords.

 

After an Attack

If there has been an attempt to breach your network, it is a good idea to gather employees and remind them of the best security practices.

 

At Regular Intervals

One of the challenges of online security is complacency. If a business does not experience a breach, employees may assume they are not a target and get lazy about security protocols. Regular reminders will help maintain safe practices.

 

How to get started?

Every small business is different. The first step is to assess your risk. Some of the questions to ask include:

  • How valuable or sensitive is your data?
  • Is your data stored on a local server or the cloud?
  • Do you allow remote connections?
  • What types of devices do your employees use?

By looking at your online setup, you will learn the spots in your network that are most vulnerable to an attack. These weak points should be the primary focus of your security education efforts.

Depending on your business’s size, hiring a local consultant to manage the training may be a good solution. Also, many online programs address the most common cyber safety issues. However you carry out the training, you are making a positive investment in your business’s security and reputation.