Are Your Employees Your Biggest Cybersecurity Threat?

Employees don’t mean to unwittingly release trade secrets or respond to phishing attacks, but when they do, it can be incredibly damaging to your company. Help your employees spot the warning signs and stay safe online. 

Employees Safe Online

Your employees are both your biggest asset and your weakest link — at least when it comes to preventing a cyberattack. Criminals today launch sophisticated attacks that are undistinguishable from advertising, push notifications or special offers. How can you prevent employees from laying out a virtual “welcome mat” for cybercriminals by clicking somewhere that they shouldn’t, or setting passwords that are easy to hack?

The Dangers of BYOD

Work is more mobile than ever, and the trend of using BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) makes the job of information security professionals very challenging. Technology teams are scrambling to patch software and system vulnerabilities to keep email spam-free.  But, this can be an uphill battle if your employees aren’t trained to recognize cybercrime.


As much control as you have over your office computers, that’s how little control you have over personal electronic devices -many of which now have access to the same business-critical information that’s on your business network. While offering this easy access is critical to your operations, it opens your IT systems to exposure from criminal elements.

Employees working remotely from a coffee shop or on shared devices could easily forget to log out, leaving open access to your network for anyone who “wanders by and decides to take a look.” Losses of laptops alone cause IT directors to hyperventilate, as many users have passwords that are easily hacked or discovered, providing the lawbreaker with the proverbial “keys to the kingdom” in terms of business data.

Malicious Leaks

It’s difficult to believe, but there are people on your staff who don’t have the best interests of your business at heart. These individuals may be looking for a way to get back at the boss for a real, or imagined slight, get a better job by offering confidential intel to a competitor, or simply be angry and want to cause damage wherever possible.

The best way to limit this possibility is to ensure that your employees only have access to the information that they need to do their job. For instance, while your customer service employees may need to view customers’ purchase details, do they really need to see their credit card numbers, expiration dates and other personal details? Probably not.

It’s also important to appropriately handle HR situations when an employee is being removed from their position, or when a supervisor recommends limited access to information. Quickly removing access may be enough to stop a situation from getting worse.  It also puts all employees on notice that stealing information from your business is considered a crime and will be treated accordingly.

Accidentally Sharing Data

Whether an employee is on a job interview with a competitor and coerced into reluctantly sharing information, or sends the wrong attachment to a contact, accidents happen. Today’s fast-paced business world guarantees that workers who are continually distracted and multi-tasking – will make mistakes and accidentally share confidential data.

Train your employees to double-check email addresses and contact lists before hitting the “Send” button— And have them practice file-naming standards that may make it more difficult to grab the wrong document by mistake.

Alternatively, employees may not realize that the information they’re sharing is truly confidential, and could be damaging if leaked.

Cybersecurity Training is Essential 

By far, the most likely scenario is where one or more of your employees are the target of a cyberattack (such as phishing when hackers try to entice them to click a specific link that leads to the installation of malware or ransomware, or provides direct access to your network).

Training is an essential part of any cybersecurity effort. However, this means more than sending a simple email with directions to your employees.  If your technology team can’t find the time to train them, hire an outside managed service provider to do so.

Maintaining Secure Operations and Communication

Email is by far the most-used method of communication in today’s business world.  But, is your email secure enough? If your emails aren’t encrypted, then you have a large hole in your security that cybercriminals will be happy to take advantage of.

If your business is one of the 60 percent that don’t encrypt daily emails, it can easily cost you thousands of dollars in the event of a significant data breach (and in notification costs alone!).

The same is true of software tools that are difficult to use. If your employees find that a required platform limits their functionality or slows them down, there’s a high possibility that they may attempt to download random software from the Internet that may not be secure.

The majority of cybersecurity precautions are common sense: maintain excellent password security, don’t click on unknown links, optimize systems and operations, encrypt emails and train your employees to recognize cyber threats. However, for them to work, they must be implemented.

Need help training your employees to identify cyber threats, or protecting your organization from data breaches? Contact {company} in {city} at {phone} or {email}. We’ll work with you to define the level of protection that you need!