How to Train New Hires on Cybersecurity Best Practices

Your cybersecurity strategy is only as good as its implementation, and your employees are the first line of defense in protecting data and fielding off attacks. Left uneducated, your staff can unwittingly usher in disaster. In fact, employee errors are the number one cause of cybersecurity breaches at small and medium-sized businesses.

Do you have a plan in place to train new hires on data and information security practices at your company? Read on to learn how to get new employees up to speed on your security protocols.

Outline Your Company Policies on Day One

According to at least one survey, 46% of entry-level employees didn’t know if their company even had a cybersecurity policy. Avoid this by including cyber safety training at the very start of employment and outlining policies in your company handbook.

Training your employees on cybersecurity practices will only be effective if your policies are clear and specific. Don’t leave much to employee discretion; loose or vague rules could lead to employees making some questionable choices in the face of confusion.

Set Up IT Security Practices

While it can be an overwhelming topic, we can’t overstate the importance of making sure cybersecurity training is part of your onboarding process. The earlier your staff members learn about the proper way to protect company data, the better. Educating employees on expectations as to how they should be managing email, mobile devices, passwords, internet, and common social engineering attacks helps get everyone on the same page when it comes to company practices.

Good topics to include in cybersecurity training include:

  • How to create strong, cryptic passwords. Show your staff examples of good and bad passwords and send out periodic reminders to change passwords. You should discourage employees from saving passwords in a file on their computer.
  • Understanding authorized software. Tell your employees which software programs they’re allowed to download — if you allow them to download programs on an individual basis. When in doubt, require an administrator to approve all software downloads.
  • Best practices for using file markers. A file marker can include employee initials or a code that signals the file was created by a legitimate employee. This can help employees avoid opening spoof emails disguised to look familiar.
  • How to spot a phishing scam. 76% of surveyed organizations were victims of phishing scams in 2017, and employee detection is the best defense against such attacks. Employees must be careful to thoroughly read emails to determine their validity, and never click on unknown links or download unknown attachments.
  • How to report a breach. Let your employees know who to talk to if they notice a network slowdown or any other suspicious sign of a hack. You should have a clear chain of command identified in case of a cyber emergency. Breaches are costly and the sooner reactive measures are started, the better for your bottom line and reputation.
  • Maintaining up-to-date firewalls and security measures. Scheduled operating system updates can be very inconvenient from an employee perspective, but they’re needed to keep security intact. Train your staff to keep the firewalls on and always maintain all current security patches on their OS.
  • Knowing what not to share online. Sharing rules go far beyond not posting proprietary secrets. Your staff should avoid posting anything that could inadvertently reveal a password or other sensitive information (think: screenshots, photos of company workspaces). Your training should also take into account social media safety concerns.  

Create a Company Culture of Accountability

All of the best policies and training in the world can’t guarantee you’re 100% bulletproof. Make sure your training includes the exact protocol for reporting mistakes employees have made. Even if they feel foolish for opening a spam email attachment, they must report it to IT.

Create a company culture where employees know they are accountable for their cyber-related decisions and feel supported, not judged or punished when they admit a misstep. A company where employees are publicly shamed for coming forward about mistakes may end up with hacks that are hard to trace or vulnerabilities that ultimately cost the company. For these reasons, it’s crucial to foster a non-punitive environment of transparency when it comes to cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity is an ever-evolving field so while orienting your new employees is a great start, one initial training session is not enough. Do you have a plan in place to keep staff abreast of changes to privacy laws and updated tools? Remember: Cybersecurity can keep your data safe, but only if your employees do their part.

Sentek Cyber is a trusted firm with a wealth of experience spanning multiple industries. We are proud to offer cybersecurity training and would love to find out more about your company and your specific needs. Contact us today to start a conversation.