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Cyber Security 101: Teaching Your Employees to Protect Your Business

Everyone is moving online and so are their businesses, challenging criminals to find new and innovative means of getting ahold of your information. We do what we can to keep things safe and will continue to draw up non-disclosure agreements and investing in costly alarm systems - but how do we react when new and strange threats to our businesses keep emerging, circling us in, and reaching out from the vast cyberspace to attack us?

We call for backup, naturally, educating ourselves as well as others on what we can do to outsmart the criminals. The only problem is that the criminals we’d like protection from are no longer good-for-nothing punks who live in their mother’s basement - although they may very well be, that’s not the point.

The point is that cyber criminals are often educated, intelligent, and able to outsmart us easily unless we’re completely up to date on the latest ways to safeguard ourselves.

Start by reading up on the most common ways businesses are attacked by hackers, phishers, and social engineers before you teach it to your employees. With their help, you’ll be able to steer clear off any dodgy requests and vulnerable software, so that you don’t have to retreat to the analog era quite yet.

Basic Security First
You need to get this first bit out of the way, though, before you can move on to educating your team on all of these new and brilliant ways you can protect the company together. The single greatest threat to your business information is, after all, an accidental disclosure from an employee - or a malicious disclosure.

Either way, cyber criminals are experts at luring information out from people, seemingly innocent information which they’re able to patch together to form a comprehensive picture.

We’ll get back to what you can do to teach your employees on how to spot dodgy requests, but let’s start with the first steps you can take to get the bare minimum of protection in place before you embark on the more complicated measures.

Have a reputable virus software installed to protect you while browsing and safeguard you against malware, general viruses, and spyware which is able to suit your business’ needs. You might have had one installed on your devices already, but have a look at this article to be sure - some of them are quite a lot better than others, and you’d only want the best security platform for your company, after all.

Malware and viruses are evolving faster than most things on this planet, and it’s safe to say that we’ve created a monster; over 39 000 new malicious programs are registered every day, they’re increasingly sophisticated and out to infect your devices. That’s why it’s so important not to settle for an alright virus protection; if it’s not fully up to date, the malware will evolve and outsmart it before you’ve even had the time to purchase a better one.

As a business, you probably depend on online transactions to keep things afloat and to make it easier for your customers. This is good news for cyber criminals who are able to retrieve your credit information as well as other business details to commit credit fraud, advertisement fraud, and every other kind of fraud you can think of.

Still - you’d want to keep it easy for your customers and be a part of the 21st century without having all of your details stolen; consider an online authentication to decrease this threat. It’s also vital to consult your IT department or vendor to encrypt your sensitive information. Each industry has its own guidelines on this, as everyone needs some form of security solution during online transmissions, so make sure you read up on all of this as well.

It might sound like a lot to read up on, in the beginning, but the truth is that it’s essential to have it done. Companies will be subject to even greater risks with time, and if you don’t get all of this out of the way, it might be too late by the time you finally get to it.

Cyber Safety: Company Training
Now that you’re an IT whiz yourself, and able to spot a fraudster from across the street if you had to, it’s time to pass the information on. It’s a good idea to start by creating a pamphlet that you can hand around in the office with a serious expression, making the importance of cyber safety sink in before lunch time. It only takes your employees a minute, really, to put your entire company at risk with the simple click on a harmful link.

First, train your team on spotting attempts of phishing. These are the most common and low-key ways of obtaining your information, which they can use to puzzle up a comprehensive picture of all your business details. They might seem innocent enough; a random question from a seemingly innocent account - but they’re far from it. Start by keeping a seminar on identifying these attempts and hire a professional to preach good cyber habits.

A while after this, shower them with a few mock attempts at phishing to see if they got anything out of the seminar at all.

This is a great way to make sure they know how to handle it, as well as a neat way of continuing their training. With time, they’ll feel completely confident when going through their inbox in the early morning and can evaluate the legitimacy of each email without any potentially catastrophic hiccups.

Teach them how to spot malware as well, so that it can be reported and fixed before any serious damage is done and your only way out is lengthy computer repairs. Your employees are the ones who are closest to the computers of your office and therefore also your best hope at spotting this as early on as possible. Make sure they know what’s worth reporting, such as an unusual delay when logging in or a message that the system is unavailable.


You should repeat a cyber seminar or other training sessions at least twice a year. It’s not just to refresh their knowledge on the subject and catch up on areas that are still lacking, though. Use the training sessions to hammer down the practices you’d like to see more of, such as good password protection, as well as to stay up to date on the various ways criminals are able to attack you.

Keep it simple but serious
To incorporate cyber safety in your business routines, you’re going to have to put some effort into making the message as clear as possible. It’s typical for employers to take advantage of a lot of new tech jargon and complicate the process in order to paint it in the darkest shade of seriousness; needless to say, you’re making it hard to keep up. Steer away from jargon, use terms that most people would use in conversations so that you’re not obscuring the message.

An excellent way of making them work hard for your company’s safety is to make cyber evaluation a part of their monthly review. That way, you’ll be able to monitor their awareness while also rewarding those who are further ahead of the others. Use your new insights to point out a few ‘super users’ and let them lead by example with peer-to-peer learning. It’s one of the best ways to gather your forces and ensure that the corps is marching in the same direction - and who better to lead them than one of their own?

Your job is to hand out pamphlets with a grave expression, after all, and you have to be able to depend on a team member to keep an eye on their cyber safety throughout the day.

Talk to them about choosing exceptional passwords, by the way, and try to think outside of the regular password box. You have around fifteen characters to confuse the fraudsters, so why not pick a perfectly random quote, a fragment of a song lyric, or something silly your kid said last week? It will be easier to remember than a string of incoherent characters and numbers while still being hard to break through.

Learn all of this and read up on other posts on cyber safety as well. With so many different ways of being attacked - and the rapid evolution of viruses out there, it’s almost impossible to include everything in an article as sweet and short as this. Get it out of the way, however, and you can feel confident that you’ve made it difficult for thieves to pick your company apart.

Pass the information on and make it a part of your company culture to browse safely, stay vigilant to shady emails, and avoid silly slip-ups that could potentially cost you your company.

Rizwan Ahmad 
About the Author:
Rizwan is an avid mobile geek and a gaming lover. He loves to keep a tab on new Tech and loves to share latest tech news and reviews on Smartphones, Gadgets, Apps and more here on cyberockk.

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