Protecting Your Small Business from a Security Breach, Part 2: Train Your Employees from Day One

Protecting Your Small Business from a Security Breach, Part 2: Train Your Employees from Day One

Written by: USB Security Team

Union Savings Bank wants to help you keep your business and data safe. As a small business owner, you already know your employees are invaluable assets to your business. Unfortunately, hackers know this too, and they take advantage of it.

People tend to be the primary point of access to a business’s network in a security breach. Luckily, they also tend to be the first to notice if something is wrong.

Firewalls and security policies simply aren’t enough to protect your business from a security breach. Between social engineering and employees’ lack of awareness of company policy, hackers can easily access your business’s network through an untrained, but well-intentioned employee.

Training your employees to know what look for and what to do in the event of a breach is one of the strongest steps you can take in proactively protecting your small business from a security breach. If handled correctly, cyber awareness and security awareness training can be an engaging and effective process. In the second installment of our blog series, How to Protect Your Small Business from a Security Breach, we will discuss the process of employee training, including what they need to know, how to train them and what to look out for to prevent breaches.

What Your Employees Need to Know

To protect your company and avoid unintentionally opening any backdoors to your network for hackers, employee training should include understanding the company policy on the following.

To protect your company and avoid unintentionally opening any backdoors to your network for hackers, employee training should include understanding the company policy on the following.

  • General technology use – Be clear with your employees regarding internet security and what technology they may use on the business network, including what programs and websites they may access and how they may use their personal devices.
  • Password management – In general, having a complicated password that is stored in an encrypted password vault is better than having simple passwords that are updated regularly. Stay tuned for Part 3 of the series for more information on password protection.
  • Data handling procedures – Hackers will sometimes steal files and encrypt them, holding them for ransom, so making backups of important files regularly can save your business a lot of time, money and stress. Store these backups offsite to better protect them in case of a data security breach.
  • Incident response plans – Make sure your employees know what to do in the event of cyberattacks. This includes knowing who to notify, how to contain the breach and how to prevent future breaches. Stay tuned for more detailed tips on incident response plans in part three of this series.
  • Social engineering techniques – Many well-intentioned employees are fooled by hackers using social engineering techniques to gain their trust and use them as a security breach to access the network. Check out our first blog of this series to learn more about social engineering.

How to Train Your Employees

Cyberattacks are constantly evolving, so it’s necessary to continually train employees to look for the warning signs, how to avoid them and what to do in case of a breach. Training and development of employees in security awareness can be far better than most security software out there. The technology in that software is designed to recognize patterns. Hackers know this and can adapt their methods to fit within the normal patterns of your business’s network, or they just create new patterns.

Employees, on the other hand, have that special human trait called intuition. Employees can learn and adapt on the fly, making them extremely good detectors. They can detect social engineering attempts and changes within the system that security software may not be able to detect. Without proper training, however, employees will not know what to look for and cannot help.

There are two commonly used security awareness training methods, in-person and virtual. Both have their pros and cons, but when they are combined, they create a cyber awareness training method that can help your employees know exactly how to defend against and respond to security breaches.

In-person internet security training sessions taught by knowledgeable trainers allow trainees to ask questions and actively engage with the subject matter expert. This leads to greater understanding and is best completed in larger groups to encourage more questions and discussion.

Virtual training is cost effective. Prerecorded training focuses on specific steps, which can help promote greater understanding in the specified areas but leaves no room for live Q&A. It tends to take less time and often allows the trainees to actively engage in simulated breaches, offering them the opportunity to deal with real-world scenarios.

The training and development should be over-arching, not focusing on just one aspect of cyber security. At the same time, it should be to-the-point and engaging. If the employees walk away from the training without absorbing what they just learned, then it was a waste of time and effort and will do very little for security awareness or protecting your business’s network.

Even with ample employee training and business security, however, hacks can still occur. It is also important to empower employees with the confidence and understanding to speak up if the system is breached due to human error. This will allow for faster response time while promoting trust and awareness.

What to Look Out for and Best Practices

Cyber security has become a very specialized and ever evolving field. Hackers are getting better, making it harder to detect them. It can be time-consuming for businesses to stay up to date on the newest methods for cyberattacks. If your budget allows, bringing a full-time security manager on board to monitor your business’s cyber security is ideal.

The security manager would be responsible for defending your business and providing security awareness by doing things such as regularly checking the network and systems for suspicious activity, making sure all software and systems are up to date, providing other employees cyber awareness training and staying up to date on what is happening in the cyber world.

If you can’t hire a full-time employee for this position, then consider investing in additional training and development for your IT specialist, if you have one. You can also consider hiring an external cybersecurity company to protect your business.

Regardless of who handles your business’s cyber security, you need to set forth some company-wide best practices. For example, you and your employees should always keep all machines up to date. Microsoft issues regular updates, so it’s important to keep up with them. You should also run antivirus protection regularly and keep back-ups of all important files.

Additionally, make sure you have a firewall between your network and the internet. If you offer free Wi-Fi at your business, keep the public internet separate from corporate internet.

Having company policies and best practices regarding cyber security and security awareness, and training your employees to understand and implement them are key to protecting your business from a security breach.

Stay tuned for the final installment of this series and other business management tips by subscribing to our Business Blog.