In cybersecurity, people are your weakest link and your best defense – you have probably heard us say this more than once. Just as your business cannot run without people, neither can you network security. Any cybersecurity plan is twofold, in that you must prevent employees from exposing you to cyber risks while empowering them to detect and respond to potential threats.
Creating and enforcing a security culture takes work, but is increasingly necessary. A majority of SMBs have been targeted by hackers, and as the world becomes more connected, so too will your business. Anyone who uses a computer, smartphone or tablet accessible to your network will have a cybersecurity role, and thus bear responsibility for your network security.
Here are a few steps that will help you establish a shared sense of cybersecurity in your business:
Data Integrity and Compliance
Your first cybersecurity concern should always be data protection. Network breaches, credential leaks and the theft of critical and personal information can and will have serious consequences for your business. The most impactful will be the monetary losses that can result from the breach of consumer trust and data security regulations, as well as expenses for resolving your security vulnerabilities.
Data protection best practices range from basic solutions like password security education, to implementing multi-factor authentication and other services that add an extra layer of security for your network users. These procedures reinforce for users both the importance of their individual practices, AND the sensitive nature of the data their credentials unlock.
Cloud Networks and Real-time Access
Most devices and applications are moving towards some level of cloud capability – if you are using Office 365 on your desktop or a Verizon smartphone, then your data is already exposed to the cloud. User security only becomes that much more important when using digital platforms, and is inherently an exercise in shared cybersecurity. However, just as with every Internet advancement since the 90’s, cloud security just requires extra vigilance until the added steps become second nature for system users.
This, of course, requires that you actually educate your employees on what NOT to do – and what might happen if they do it anyway. This includes all levels of your company, as managers and executives are often the biggest targets to exploit for human error. Remind your users that they are not just accessing hardware whenever they press a key or touch a screen, but a communications node connected to dozens, hundreds or thousands of other endpoints.
Cyber Risk Assessment and Employee Cybersecurity Training
As everything above shows, training is the first on most lists of cybersecurity strategies, but you cannot force everyone in your business to become an IT expert. Besides the sheer amount of instruction needed to turn every amateur into a security specialist, cyber stress can cause as much damage as a data breach (because it can lead to one anyway). Any user security improvement plan should be conceptualized and deployed according to a risk-based approach.
Assessing cyber risk includes reviewing where you may be vulnerable (ERP software, industrial systems, business application suites, etc.), and calculating the number of endpoints and users that may be exposed in those areas. From here, you can design and schedule training programs by business unit, with content based on role and credential access to critical systems. Most importantly, you can help your employees understand how their security approach affects their personal lives as well – and how improving practices at work secures their devices at home as well.
Get Your Employees the Tools to Protect Your Business
There is no avoiding the fact that SMBs these days require a culture of cybersecurity, but ensuring that your employees understand their part means providing the tools that allow them to do so. SWK has the resources available to help you teach your people how to protect themselves and your business from all threats.
Download the Cybersecurity Toolkit for SMBs e-book to learn how to create a culture of shared network security for your business.