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Human error is a very common and effective method hackers use to gain entry into secured networks. Setting up strong network security is a must. But passwords, firewalls, anti-virus, anti-malware and monitoring can only protect your IT infrastructure up to a point if employee mistakes undermine their effectiveness. The only way to prevent these mistakes is by training your employees to avoid them.
Cybercriminals use several ways to fool employees into giving them access to networks and confidential data.
Employees are the first layer of cybersecurity protecting your company from hackers. It is critical to train them to be on the lookout for all of these threats to protect your company.
To combat phishing and whaling, review emails for misspellings and grammatical errors. These are obvious signs of a phishing email, along with out of place urgency in their requests. However, some phishing and whaling emails are very sophisticated and can appear real. For any email requesting sensitive data, be suspicious. Verify that it’s authentic by separately contacting the sender or organization to verify it, or consult with your company’s IT services provider.
If you suspect pretexting, double-check by calling that department or organization back at a telephone number you know is legitimate to see if it’s authentic. Be familiar with the IT staff for your company and personnel at vendors you deal with. Be especially vigilant about requests from people you’ve never dealt with.
To prevent baiting attacks, educate employees about and put in place computer use policies that prohibit them from going on non-work related websites or clicking on or downloading anything suspicious.
For example, if a pop-up alert appears, read it instead of just clicking. Don’t click through if your anti-virus says it’s a dangerous website. Call IT instead. If it says you have a virus, check if it’s an Internet Explorer window. If it is, it’s probably a virus. For Windows systems, click Ctrl+Shift+Esc and manually close Explorer instead of clicking the X.
Have your IT people establish a separate guest network for customers that employees can also use to surf the web, check personal email or use social media on their breaks. Your company network is safer when it’s only used for business purposes.
From the CEO to the front desk receptionist, protecting the company from hackers is everyone’s responsibility. Cybersecurity education should be part of your company’s new employee orientation. Conduct training at least annually. Highlight examples of phishing, pretexting and baiting attempts to your entire staff as your employees come across them and recognize employees when they prevent hacking by thwarting the cybercriminals’ efforts.
For cybersecurity to be effective, it must be multi-layered and include employee training and cooperation. Teach them about how important data and network security is to your company, customers and, ultimately, their jobs.
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