It’s finally October! As the weather starts to cool down, many of us are excited about the changing leaves, costume contests, and maybe even Pumpkin Spice Lattes. But, there’s one other thing that makes October special. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month!
And sure, cybersecurity may not bring you the same joy your annual pumpkin carving contest does, but it is essential to a successful business.
Why is Cybersecurity Awareness Month Important?
Cyber-attacks continue to rise every year. Last year we saw a 350% increase in ransomware attacks, a 250% increase in spoofing attacks, and a 70% increase in spear phishing attacks. If that’s not enough to convince you of the importance of cybersecurity, the average cost of a data breach has risen to $7.5 million.
No matter who you are, what company you work for, or what your role is, cybersecurity is relevant to you. So, to celebrate National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, read on for tips on how to promote cybersecurity at your organization.
The Role of Human Error in Cyber Attacks
Many employees don’t worry enough about cybersecurity because they don’t believe they have to. They think it’s their IT department or service provider’s job to maintain security.
But although an IT department should be implementing cybersecurity measures, the leading cause of attacks is human error. In fact, 90 percent of corporate data breaches are a result of attacks targeting employees.
It’s everyone’s job to maintain the security of their data and organization. If an individual doesn’t understand that their actions affect cybersecurity, they can put their whole company at risk.
How Can Employees Put Businesses at Risk?
Emails are one of the biggest culprits for carrying cyber attacks. And often, these emails target employees. From spear phishing attacks to man-in-the-middle schemes, employees can unintentionally hand over access to their organization’s network in one click. Here are some of the most common threats:
- Spear phishing – In a spear phishing attack, a user will receive an email that is designed to replicate a trustworthy source. Users who click on the links in phishing emails are taken to fake websites that are intended to gather private data, like login information or credit card data.
- Business Email Compromise (BEC) – This type of scam often targets employees using spoofed emails. A criminal will impersonate an executive at a user’s company, like the CEO, requesting wire transfers or payments.
- Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) – A man-in-the-middle attack is relatively self-explanatory. It’s when an attacker inserts themself between a two-party transaction, stealing data as it’s passed from one party to the other.
Besides these common cyber attacks that occur through email, individuals can also put an organization at risk by downloading items online or visiting certain websites.
The number of cyber-attacks that directly target individuals and employees makes it clear that cybersecurity should be a priority for everyone. But, many companies still don’t train or educate all of their employees on cybersecurity best practices.
Well, it’s time we change that.
Cybersecurity Awareness Month: What You Can Do
This month is the perfect opportunity to begin creating a culture centered on cybersecurity at your organization. Take advantage of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and use the tips below to promote safe and secure practices at your company.
1. Get Leaders on Board
The best advice we have for implementing better cybersecurity practices is to start from the top. Leaders can create powerful change in an organization, but they have to be on board first.
So, start talking with the leaders at your company. Explain why cybersecurity is so critical and where your organization can improve. We all know money talks, so don’t be afraid to pull a few stats like the ones we mentioned above.
Once leaders realize that poor cybersecurity practices can cost them money, they are more likely to make improvements a priority.
2. Begin Educating During the Onboarding Process
Another way to promote cybersecurity awareness at your organization is to start at the start – literally. New hires should begin cybersecurity training during their onboarding process. Not only will this help protect your organization better, but it will also emphasize the importance of cybersecurity to your whole company.
Train every new employee on the different types of cyber threats and how to prevent them. Teach them how to set up multi-factor authentication on all of their devices and accounts. Ensure that they understand your organization’s cybersecurity standards and who to go to for questions or concerns.
This way, employees will immediately understand how critical security is for the business.
3. Keep Up on Trainings
Many companies hold a cybersecurity training every few years, or maybe even once a year. But to keep up on new or trending threats, we recommend companies educate their employees more often than this. For some companies, this could mean every quarter. Others who have strict compliance requirements or handle especially sensitive data might want to hold small trainings every month.
By continually holding trainings, businesses can help keep cybersecurity at the top of their employee’s minds. It also keeps everyone up-to-date on the latest types of attacks and prevention techniques.
4. Conduct Evaluations
Just like your organization may hold performance reviews, it’s a good idea to conduct cybersecurity evaluations. By reviewing systems, networks, protocols, and employee actions, leaders can determine points of weakness.
Make sure these evaluations aren’t a one-and-done task but are continually performed. These evaluations will help keep everyone aware of cybersecurity and the standards they should be following.
5. Maintain Positive Communication
The topic of cybersecurity can seem overwhelming and intimidating to many employees. By keeping communication open and positive, employees will feel incentivized to implement procedures on their own.
Send out helpful articles covering the latest type of threat, remind others of useful tips, and even reward employees who have caught malicious emails.
Cybersecurity should bleed through your organization, crossing teams and divides so that everyone is aware and inspired to protect the company and its data.
Let’s Celebrate National Cybersecurity Awareness Month!
So, it’s time to get to work! Whether you are the CEO or work in an entry-level position at your organization, your actions can make a difference. Share this article with those around you and get everyone on board to improve security practices and create a culture of threat prevention today.
To help you get started, download our free cybersecurity checklist to identify where your organization can be better protected. Don’t wait any longer, make cybersecurity a priority today!