While as an employee, you are a valuable asset, you can also be the number one source of your company’s security vulnerabilities. In turn, a critical part of enhancing your company’s cybersecurity is ensuring you are well-educated on online safety to reduce the risks of human error and negligence. This article outlines 15 cybersecurity best practices that employees should adopt.
Use multi-factor authentication
Avoid relying on passwords as the only way to authenticate your identity when accessing work-related accounts or systems. Today, cybercriminals can use a variety of sophisticated methods to hack, bypass, or steal your passwords, making it critical to embrace multi-factor authentication. MFA will provide the much-needed extra security layer by introducing more categories of verifications, limiting the risks of unauthorized access and hacks.
Maintain good password hygiene
Hackers are getting smarter each day and successfully using a variety of sophisticated vectors to steal or bypass passwords. To stay safe, it is critical to use strong passwords and maintain good password hygiene by:
- Utilizing upper and lowercase letters, symbols, numbers, and special characters in your passwords
- Changing your passwords regularly
- Having uncommon and varied passwords for different accounts
- Using a password manager tool to avoid forgetting or writing down your passwords
Avoid clicking on unknown emails, links, and popups
Phishing attacks have become too commonplace, and to avoid being a victim of these acts that target unsuspecting internet users, avoid clicking on unknown emails, links, and popups. You should always double-check the authenticity of all emails and links you receive before clicking on them. Most importantly, never enter any sensitive or personal information into links or attachments you receive unless they are for approved official purposes.
Avoid using unknown USB devices
While USB devices are popular in the workplace, you must avoid using unknown devices as they might contain viruses or malware. A good rule is to use vetted USB devices that have been treated to prevent these risks that could threaten your computer and company’s systems.
Stick to secure Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks seem to be everywhere you go, but unlike your office wireless network that is secured and well-encrypted, these are not. Avoid using these Wi-Fi networks, which only enhance your vulnerability to attacks.
Have an updated and active anti-virus software
The unwritten policy for staying safe while using a computer or smartphone is to rely on anti-virus and anti-malware software. These programs will offer you comprehensive protection, whether you need to scan a USB device, scan your computer for viruses and malware, or warn you about suspicious sites and attachments. Your only mandate will be ensuring your anti-virus software is updated and always active.
Only using legitimate software
Too many sites offer pirated variations of popular software, most of which contain malware that will only make you easy prey. Make it a habit to acquire and use legitimate software from industry-leading brands that have been downloaded from trustworthy sites.
Be cautious of business email compromise (BEC) and CEO attacks
Cybercriminals have mastered the art of impersonating company officials, calling for extra caution about how you handle your emails. Prevent BEC and CEO attacks by always double-checking your emails, especially the address domains that are often so well-cloned that they look authentic. Most importantly, verify with your superiors or workmate who sent the email before completing the request.
Adhere to instructions from the IT department
Pay attention to instructions and policies by the IT department to avoid falling prey to ever-lurking cyber dangers you might not be aware of. You should also report or inquire about any unusual online activities or computer issues that might need to be looked into to avoid posing a security risk to your company.
Use firewall protection
A firewall is your first line of defense against cyberattacks and a tool that you need to use actively. Do not just activate your computer’s firewall, but go the extra mile and incorporate this protection into your home network. This will make it harder for hackers to connect to your network and access critical company data or systems.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) play a critical role in safeguarding your online presence by making it hard for cybercriminals to trace your online activities. While highly effective VPN software requires a small subscription, this is a small price to pay for improved cybersecurity.
Create data backups
The best way to keep your company’s data safe regardless of what might transpire is by having easily accessible backups. Thanks to cloud technology, this does not have to be a complicated process as you can now create data backups with a few clicks of a button. This will come in handy if you or your company suffers ransomware attacks or your computer ever gets infected with viruses and malware.
Attend cybersecurity training programs
Most companies are committed to educating employees on cybersecurity, and you need to prioritize attending these training programs. You should also be invested in learning more about cybersecurity and improving your knowledge in IT to avoid making costly mistakes you would have easily avoided.
Adhere to the company’s BYOD policies
If your company allows you to use your personal devices at work, it is essential to abide by the BYOD policies set forth. Remember, all it takes is a slight disregard for these policies, and your devices will be the bridge that hackers use to access your company’s systems and carry out attacks. If possible, opt to have another phone, Ipad, and laptop for your personal use to limit the activities on the devices you use for work-related purposes.
Keep work laptop and phone safe
The safety of your work laptop and phones must be a top priority, as losing them could mean allowing unauthorized access to critical files and company systems. Even when at home or with your friends, never allow anyone to access these devices as it could lead to data theft or knowledge of your passwords.
As an employee, you can never overlook your role in managing the cybersecurity of your company, and these tips will go a long way in helping you minimize your vulnerabilities.