Companies spend a lot of money on cybersecurity. According to the RSA Conference, worldwide spending on information security products was valued at more than $124 billion in 2019.

But no matter how much you’re investing in protecting your organization against hackers, it won’t do a drop of good if your employees willingly hand them the keys to the castle. And while you’d like to believe your employees wouldn’t make these sort of mistakes, a study by Shred-it found that employee negligence is the leading cause of data breaches in the U.S.

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So what can you do?

To start, you can make sure employees are well-educated on how to improve cybersecurity. Then, hold them accountable for their actions online. Here’s how:

How to Effectively Educate Your Employees on Cybersecurity

Do you know for sure whether or not your employees can recognize a security threat? We’re willing to bet you’d rather not wait to find out.

If your workforce can’t identify potential threats or risks that may put your organization in harm’s way, they can’t avoid them, report them, or help you stop them. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure they have access to all the information necessary to protect themselves and your company.

Here are a few tips for effective cybersecurity education:

      1. Communicate potential impacts
        In many cases, employees don’t understand the gravity of the situation — or how much damage a seemingly innocuous oversight can cause. (For example, using their corporate email address and password as a login for an unauthorized app.) Provide detailed explanations of various scenarios to illustrate why their choices matter, and what can happen when they take even small risks.
      2. Train employees to spot threats
        Each employee who learns how to recognize possible threats reduces your organization’s risk of becoming a victim of a cyber attack. Give your employees concrete examples, like screenshots of real phishing emails. Be sure they have a quick and easy method for reporting potential threats to IT pros. The more streamlined you make the reporting process, the more likely they’ll be to follow it.
      3. Refresh them often
        Cybersecurity is always changing. As people become more tech-savvy, hackers are finding sneakier and more sophisticated methods to infiltrate company networks. To ensure your employees are well-prepared, hold regular refresh sessions, and brief them on the latest trends, risks, and shady cybercriminal behaviors.

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How to Hold Employees Accountable for What They Do Online

What would you do if an employee forgot to lock a file cabinet filled with highly sensitive information? Or accidentally discussed trade secrets in front of a competitor? 

Chances are, you’d strive to educate them about their mistake and allow them to correct their behavior. If an employee continued to repeat their mistakes, you’d probably take more serious action because, as a leader, you know repeat offenders can be a liability to your company.

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But while cybersecurity is also damaging and financially ruinous, few organizations have any processes to hold employees accountable for online activity. After all, unless you’re standing over their shoulder or tracking their every move (which would be pretty creepy), it’s difficult to know who is engaging in risky behavior.

This is where actionable threat intelligence can come in handy. This technology can…

  • Alert you when your business has been involved in a possible breach
  • Share what information has been compromised
  • Equip you with the tools and knowledge to stop account takeovers
  • Help you identify which employees or teams are most high-risk (and aren’t complying with cybersecurity best practices)

And, with this insight, you can… 

  • Show employees precisely what they’re doing wrong
  • Give them an opportunity to educate themselves and correct their mistakes (E.g., set stronger passwords or turn on multi-factor authentication)
  • Uncover shadow IT and ensure no one is going rogue and exposing your organization by signing up for software you haven’t approved

The good news is, once they’ve recognized their oversight, most employees won’t repeat their errors. Over time, your workforce will become more knowledgeable and committed to protecting themselves and your business.

Your employees can be your biggest risk — but they can also be your greatest asset in the fight against cybercrime. It all depends on how committed you are to educating them on how to improve cybersecurity and holding them accountable for the choices they make online.


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