Cybersecurity is a rising priority for many firms, with businesses around the world wanting to protect themselves from potential breaches and their damaging fallout. Although problems often stem from outside a firm, many threats − both accidental and malicious − begin inside a company, meaning that employees must be educated on the need to remain vigilant.
Workers can be a firm’s greatest asset; however, although workers are often the first line of defence against cybercrime, they can also be the people to initiate vulnerabilities. It is due to this that education is vital, although there is a fine line between workers understanding how online activities can be risky and security concerns becoming a hindrance to productivity.
Richard Walters, the vice-president of access management and identity for cloud service provider Intermedia, explained: “Employees are a company’s first line of defence but they also need to be aware of the security threats out there in order to avoid them.” This is certainly true, as although workers might understand the risks of opening email attachments, for example, many don’t realise that both their personal smartphones and the firm’s printers can be a gateway into networks for thieves to take advantage of.
In one of Intermedia’s 2015 reports, it was discovered that 93% of those employed as ‘knowledge workers’ knew they had committed at least one piece of risky activity, whether this was installing a non-sanctioned application or sharing account credentials. Echoworx’s security director, Greg Aligiannis, explained: “Despite the fact that more and more organisations are taking the threat of their own staff more seriously and giving their employees training in data security, user awareness of security threats and adoption of protection technologies still remains very low.”
As a result, Mr Aligiannis believes that cybersecurity training needs to become part of everyday working life. This means that regardless of whether someone is an intern or an executive, they need to have basic security knowledge. Over time, it should then become second nature to follow security procedures. This will only work, however, by actively encouraging training in the workplace. Staff learning sessions can be held where employees can gain some experience with various techniques. Rather than having people take time out, providing a lunch with some on-site security talks, for example, can work well.
Overall, it is essential for modern companies to take cybersecurity seriously, which means investing in staff training. Although a firm might never be 100% safe, providing workers with a good education on the topic can help to reduce risk.
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