The 3 key employee habits that will minimize cybersecurity risks

The 3 key employee habits that will minimize cybersecurity risks

Human error is often the root cause of many breaches, but building employee awareness and cultivating good cybersecurity habits can drastically reduce the likelihood of your Ontario business experiencing cyberattacks.

While setting standards and enforcing consistent practices amongst your staff are essential, it can be difficult to get your employees started on cybersecurity awareness. Don’t fret, though. You can begin by encouraging your employees to adopt these three best cybersecurity practices.

1. Creating strong passwords

With cybercriminals using more sophisticated tools to crack passwords these days, password protection is more crucial than ever. It’s therefore paramount to educate your employees on how to create strong passwords that can’t easily be guessed.

Strong passwords are those that meet the following criteria:

  • Length – are at least eight characters long
  • Complexity – contain alphanumeric and special characters, and include both uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Unpredictability – don’t have patterns, such as sequential keyboard combinations, or personal information like names or birth dates
  • Memorability – can be remembered easily, but not in a way that could be guessed

Note, however, that a strong password is no good if it is recycled or shared. Employees should be the only ones who know their own passwords, and they should never use the same password more than once. This is why it’s a good idea to require your employees to generate, store, and manage passwords in a digital password manager to ensure that their passwords are unique and secure.

2. Thinking twice before clicking email links or attachments

With all the emails employees check every day, it can become routine for your staff to click on message attachments without checking the sender or the nature of the attachment. This could give way to successful cyberattacks, such as:

  • Phishing scams – Phishing emails often contain links that appear legitimate but actually lead to fake websites designed to steal sensitive information. If employees click on these links, their credentials can be compromised.
  • Malware infections – Clicking on a link in an email or a message could trigger the download and installation of malware on the employee's device, allowing cybercriminals to steal sensitive data or take control of the infected device.
  • Ransomware attacks – Clicking on a link containing ransomware would result in files getting encrypted. Usually, the perpetrator would demand payment in exchange for the decryption key and relinquishing their hold on the stolen data.
  • Business email compromise – Cybercriminals may send emails impersonating a company executive and request a wire transfer. Clicking on a link in such an email could result in a devastating financial loss for your business.

It’s essential that employees learn how to recognize dangerous links, such as those originating from unknown addresses or containing strange attachments. This way, they would know when it is unsafe to click a link they receive via email or other communication channels.

3. Enabling multifactor authentication (MFA) whenever possible

MFA provides an extra layer of security for employee accounts, greatly reducing the risk of unauthorized access and protecting sensitive information from being compromised.

If your employees enable MFA, your business will gain the following benefits:

  • Increased security – MFA requires users to provide at least two authentication factors before granting account access, making it harder for hackers to gain entry into an account. Even if cybercriminals obtain your passwords, they won’t be able to get into your accounts if they can’t provide the required additional factors.
  • Protection against phishing – With MFA, even if a cybercriminal manages to trick an employee into revealing their password, they still won't be able to access the account without the additional authentication factor.
  • Better compliance – Many industries and regulatory bodies require organizations to secure access to certain types of sensitive data, such as personal health information. Enabling MFA can help you meet these compliance requirements and prevent penalties and/or legal issues.
  • Ease of use – Many MFA methods, such as SMS verification or push notifications, are relatively easy to use and can be configured quickly. Once set up, employees will typically only need to provide the additional authentication factor when logging in from a new device or location.

In its simplest form, cybersecurity is all about maintaining a safe environment for your data. Training your employees to practice the three habits mentioned above will enable your organization to create a secure environment with minimal cybersecurity risks.

If you want to further ensure data security, you would do well to partner with an experienced managed IT services provider like XBASE Technologies. With our EXponentially Better™ solutions and team of seasoned professionals, you can rest assured that your data is safe from prying eyes. Get in touch with us today.