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Cybersecurity: 5 tips to ensure your small business has adequate defense


With their modest cybersecurity budgets, small businesses are increasingly an attractive target to cybercriminals. When protecting your business against these attempts, the best security practices among your employees are your best defense against potential attacks. In many cases, employees are careless enough to become cybersecurity risks. If you’re serious about cybersecurity at your small business, the following ways can be practical, proactive approaches to helping ensure your employees demonstrate better compliance.

Make sure that the rules are simple to understand and follow

Company cybersecurity guidelines are often written by subject experts who have little appreciation for how hard it is for nonexperts to understand technical terminology. It’s essential to take your company’s cybersecurity guidelines to someone who can translate them into plain English so that anyone, even non-IT workers, can understand, connect to, and retain them. Only then do you stand a chance of helping your company stay safe from employee-related cybersecurity mistakes.

Make sure your employees receive cybersecurity training

Anyone who gets on the company computer network for any reason needs to receive training on how cybersecurity threats make their way into the organization. This security awareness training includes all employees; the receptionist answering the phones, interns, senior workers, contractors, and the c-level management, including CEO. The training must do more than help your company comply with industry standards (such as the HIPAA compliance requirement that applies to the healthcare industry).

Instead, your employees need training that helps them understand and internalize how threats occur and how they can damage the company if proper care isn’t taken. Training that includes as little theory as possible, and lots of interesting, real-world examples, is likely to be internalized more readily. Periodic refresher courses are essential, as well.

Put easy-to-follow reporting procedures in place

Suppose an employee receives a suspicious email or discovers a flash drive on their desk that no one knows to whom it belongs. In that case, their training may help them identify these occurrences as potential threats. However, they also need a quick, simple way to report a possible threat so the security team can appropriately assess the risk. The reporting procedure needs to be as painless as possible because, otherwise, reporting requirements are likely to be ignored, considering how busy employees tend to be.

Don’t punish employees who make cybersecurity mistakes

Even well-trained employees can make mistakes, let alone employees who have yet to be exposed to cybersecurity. This knowledge means that punishing an employee wouldn’t be fair even for a severe cybersecurity lapse. It would also be counterproductive; if workers know that mistakes are likely to attract severe punishment, they will usually look for ways to cover up their mistakes rather than report them and allow the cybersecurity experts to contain the damage early. Punishment isn’t the way to address errors unless you suspect an employee was willfully negligent. It can also help to reward employees for responsible cybersecurity behavior.

Grant as little system access as needed

Employees need to be granted as little depth of access to the company’s systems as necessary to allow them to do their jobs. Every time they are moved to a different area of responsibility, their system access should be reviewed to see if they could make do with less access. In addition, it can help to employ user-behavior analytics and network activity monitoring to see when employees go around snooping in parts of the system where they don’t need to do their jobs. This monitoring also uncovers instances where employees have their credentials stolen and used without their knowledge.

Maintaining effective cybersecurity at your company can be challenging. It requires actual involvement and continuous effort. However, this commitment can help make your company safer against cyber threats.