As cyberattacks become more and more common, updating your company’s cybersecurity should be a priority for any business owner. Figures suggest that there is a ransomware attack on a business every 14 seconds, and that most of those businesses are small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). It’s clear that for modern businesses, protecting your sensitive data from an attack is more important than ever.

However, no matter how good your software defenses are, attacks can still reach you if you don’t secure one important resource: your personnel. Unfortunately, your own staff can be your biggest cybersecurity weakness. But the good news is, with the right training, they can also be your greatest defense.

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to enable employees to make educated choices by equipping them with the necessary software and knowledge. These are some ways that, if left untrained, employees can leave you vulnerable against cyberattack:

Falling Prey to Phishing

An email attack is an easy way for hackers to get inside your system if your employee does not realize that she has received a phishing email. An employee may be fooled into giving sensitive data away if he doesn’t know how to recognize a phishing attempt.

It is estimated that as many as 93% of phishing emails contain ransomware, which is a malware designed to block access to data or threaten to publish data unless a ransom is paid. Any email communication that looks remotely suspicious should be handled with caution.   

Using Weak Passwords

It may be annoying to have to add numbers, special characters, and capital letters to every password—but it’s for good reason. Simple passwords which only contain one type of character or use just a basic word are easy for hackers to obtain by using a dictionary attack that scans for common words. It’s best to use a passphrase, which is a string of words together, and to include varying characters for optimal security.

Another weakness passwords present is when someone uses the same password for different site logins. Many people do this so they don’t forget their passwords; however, this enables cyber criminals to access multiple accounts if they learn just one of your passwords. Employees need to use unique passwords for each different account.

Unsecured Networks

If an employee has a company laptop or mobile device and uses it while connected to a public WiFi network, this can pose a risk, as login details can be easily exposed on an unsecured network. Your company can solve this potential risk by putting rules in place about where and how employees can use company property and how to protect sensitive information.

System Upgrades and Updates

Computers need regular updates in order to maintain the most recent security features and programs. Putting off the reminder to install updates can lead to dangerous and unnecessary network vulnerabilities.

Downloads and Installations 

Downloading suspicious software, whether from an email attachment or online, is a surefire way to leave your systems vulnerable to malware. Staff members may be tempted to install unknown software if they are naive to the threats this poses, especially if they’re attempting to download what appears to be a harmless piece of software. Educating employees about reputable sources for installations and the dangers of installing unknown downloads will help minimize this risk.

Turn a Weakness into an Asset

These are just a few of the risks that your staff can expose your company to. But by providing proper training and security policies, you’ll empower your team to become the greatest first line of defense your tech could ask for. An IT company that provides Managed IT Services can help you assess your needs, provide Security Awareness Training, and design a cybersecurity protection plan that factors in both technological and human factors to give your business a well-rounded protection strategy.

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