Statistics continue to prove that human error is responsible for almost 95% of data security breaches, which highlights the necessity of training in basic cybersecurity topics to best protect yourself and your business. This necessity becomes more pressing with the continuous development of cyberattack methods; cyber attackers are not holding back.
The matter of choosing the cybersecurity topics to educate yourself and your employees about can be overwhelming. This is why, in this article, we will recommend the top cybersecurity topics to include in your Human Management Risk training program that are also beneficial to you as an individual.
1. Phishing Attacks
Phishing was and remains one of the most threatening forms of cyberattacks. The number of phishing attacks increased significantly with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and skyrocketed during 2021, with working from home being one of the main causes of this increase. The reason behind the continuity of phishing attack risks is that attackers are developing the techniques they use to trick individuals into opening malicious attachments or unintentionally comprising sensitive data.
One of the most dangerous methods used in phishing attacks is when the attacker conducts research on one of the senior employees in the organisation and uses the results to forge a seemingly authentic email. The misconception that phishing scams are easy to spot adds to the plight, which is the reason many businesses suffered from major phishing attacks this year so far.
As an employer, you need to ensure that your employees get proper and updated training on how to spot the new techniques used in phishing attacks, as well as setting an action plan to follow if a phishing attack takes place.
2. Social Engineering
Social engineering is a cybersecurity attack method that depends on gaining the individual’s trust to trick them into revealing sensitive data to use it for illegal purposes. Types of social engineering include Phishing, Baiting, Pretexting, Business Email Compromise or BEC and Scareware.
Cyber attackers also use common psychological methods to validate their social engineering attack attempts, such as urgency, scarcity and reciprocity. The attacker might pose as a viable customer or might offer fake incentives to lure the employee into revealing sensitive data. Your employees need to be aware of such methods of cybersecurity attacks. The use of authentication, for example, can decrease the likelihood of such attacks.
Malware is an umbrella term that includes many types or methods to infect your device, encrypt your data or steal it. There are various types of malware, such as Viruses, Worms, Fileless Malware, Trojans, Ransomware, Adware, Rootkits and Malvertising. Ransomware costs were estimated to reach more than $20 million worldwide in 2021.
Many types of malware can be spotted by using antivirus and antimalware software, but others, such as Rootkits and Fileless Malware, are difficult to detect and the only method to get rid of them is by booting the system, which might cause significant data loss if you’re system is not properly backed-up.
4. Strong Passwords and Authentication
Password security is one that’s often overlooked despite its simplicity. Using strong passwords and login credentials will increase your cybersecurity. Using simple passwords or ones that can be easily guessed makes it easier for cybercriminals to predict them, and as a result, considerable accounts can be accessed. This stolen information can be sold on the black market or even leaked to the public.
Using randomised passwords guarantees the inclusion of several elements in the suggested passwords, such as length, strength and the use of different characters. For a further protective step, you can implement multi-factor authentication methods such as identity confirmation or sending a security code to your mobile device to confirm your identity before granting you access.
5. Working Remotely
The outbreak of COVID-19 by the end of 2019 forced many businesses to transfer their employees to a full-time work-from-home system completely. This aspect of work increased productivity and helped many employees around the world to create a balance between their home and work life. However, this also created cybersecurity issues. As a general rule, any home devices used to log in to the company’s network or to perform work-related tasks should have firewalls and antivirus software, be kept locked and must not be left open and unattended.
Another aspect of working from home is the need to hire international employees or experts in different aspects, for example. The working from home or remotely trend is predicted to continue in the upcoming years. If a company chooses to offer its employees this option, it should make sure they understand the proper methods to use to keep company data safe.
6. Cybersecurity at Home
When you leave the workplace, unfortunately, the threat doesn’t stop there. Many businesses allow their employees to get work done remotely or from home, especially urgent work, regardless of the working-from-home situation forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Your electronic devices at home must all be well protected against any possible cyberattack because then your personal data, including your company’s login credentials, might be in danger.
Additionally, cyberhackers have been increasingly targeting online sharing and storage services such as Dropbox, which you can use to share data with your employees, and they also can share data with each other. In a study by Propeller, it was found that users unknowingly clicked on 13.6% of phishing campaigns that targeted Dropbox alone.
In this regard, make sure only to download software from credible websites and encrypt any files or data before sharing it online through any sharing or storage service. This will ensure that even if the data is intercepted, the hacker doesn’t have the decryption key, which will also give you time to detect the breach.
7. Data Breaches
Data breaches mean that the hacker has found a way into your system, and you need to act fast to contain the damage. You need to identify the damage, which information was stolen or leaked, where the attack originated from, such as from stolen employee credentials, and what you must do to stop the leakage of information. If an attacker breaches the network and, unluckily, uses ransomware, your best chance is to either pay the ransom or wipe your system entirely and start anew. Both choices are costly in terms of money and time, which is why you need to ensure to safeguard your network properly.
Both businesses and individuals must be vigilant when it comes to regular system check-ups to ensure there are no unauthorised visitors on the network and that software and programs are properly patched, updated and configured. As an employer, you can keep track of employee access permissions, keep operation logs for your employees and offer adequate training cybersecurity programs for them.
8. Internet and Email
When end-users enter the same email for several services online, this can put them at a security risk, especially if they use the same password for these different accounts to remember them easily. Studies show that 59% of users end up using the same password for different accounts, which means that if the hacker was able to gain access to one account, all the remaining accounts are compromised, social media and work accounts included.
To avoid unauthorised access to your accounts, even if you use the same email to register for different services, make sure to always use different and strong passwords for each service or website. This will protect the remainder of your accounts if one of them gets hacked and will also protect your data if the service’s website suffers a cybersecurity breach in which only the information on that website is leaked.
The internet poses infinite security risks, but one of the most common risks is downloading free software that is infected with malware. You must never download software from untrusted sources, even if it was offered as a free download. Make sure to have proper antivirus, antimalware and firewall installed on your device to detect any unwanted visitors.
9. Cloud Security
Cloud migration has revolutionised the business world. It has many benefits, including saving costs, space and the possibility of having massive amounts of data at the click of a button. However, if you do not choose a suitable cloud storage service, a great portion of your data might end up without protection from possible cyberattacks. Suitable cloud storage services will be properly configured and guarantee the security of your data.
In the last couple of years, many businesses have had to make their databases available through cloud migration to accommodate the lockdown forced to combat COVID-19 and the large numbers of employees having to work from home. As a business owner, you are better off assuring your cloud storage service is properly configured and making sure that your employees know how to use these cloud services properly. Statistics predict that 99% of cloud security attack incidents will be the end-user’s fault.
10. Public Wi-Fi
Using public Wi-Fi services is a feature of working away from the office, whether you are on the move on public transportation or working from a café. There are many fake Wi-Fi services in these spots that pose as free Wi-Fi, but they also carry huge security risks with them. If you don’t know how to use public Wi-Fi safely or cannot spot scam signs, you are more likely to enter sensitive data on an unsecured network and compromise your work and data.
11. Social Media and Privacy
Statistics reveal that in 2022, the number of people using social media worldwide is 4.26 billion, which is expected to reach 6 billion by 2027. These huge numbers of people share vital personal data online, locations, birthdays and work-related information. Malicious factors can easily exploit any piece of data to conduct a social engineering attack, posing as a credible user to lure the victim into giving out information or even money.
It’s vital when you use social media to keep your information private, especially any work-related information and any sensitive information that might be used by lurking attackers as a door into your system. If a hacker can access your personal network, they can track your activity and gain access to your company’s network.
12. Removable Media
Removable media refers to storage devices that you plug into your computer to transfer data, then remove it and plug it into another device. Users transfer data to the device and most likely will remove it from the main computer afterwards. There are two ways through which malware can get transferred from one device to another. Either the main computer had malware and was transferred with the data onto the USB device, or the USB device was not properly protected and contained malware. In the second case, malware will be transferred onto the main computer and any other devices the USB device is plugged into.
Using removable media devices in your organisation must be done with utmost care, and your employees must know how to use them safely. Additionally, they must know how to properly protect the data transferred onto these removable media devices to avoid leaking sensitive personal or company data.
Other removable media storage devices include CDs, SD Cards and smartphones. More security risks pertaining to removable media devices include copyright infringement and the physical loss of the devices.
13. Physical Security
The physical threat to your security credentials is unlikely but can happen easily. If you keep a physical copy of your passwords, like writing them in a notebook or even on a sticky note on your desk, they might get stolen. The cybersecurity risk to these passwords is lower, but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
Other examples include leaving sensitive company documents unattended or leaving your computer unlocked, even if you work from home. You can implement a “clean desk” policy in the office space to ensure no one leaves sensitive data unattended.
14. Mobile Devices
The development of IT technologies allowed many people to work on their mobile devices on the go, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this development didn’t come risk-free. There are many security risks pertaining to using mobile devices for work purposes. Using mobile devices to finish work when you’re part of a small organisation can have several benefits, such as reducing costs and speedy task fulfilment.
Malicious mobile applications and the compulsory advertisements that appear when the individual is using their phone increase the chances of malware lurking around the mobile device. When the individual signs in to the company’s network, the network is then infected with malware. Mobile devices also face physical risks, such as getting lost or stolen.
The best approaches include having security software installed on your mobile device, which will keep any sensitive and work-related data on your mobile device encrypted, password-protected or with biometric authentication. For big organisations, you can have your employees sign a mobile security policy to guarantee they are aware of the risks and precautions to take when using mobile devices to perform work-related tasks.
Cybersecurity threats are not going away any time soon. They will only continue to evolve to keep up with the hectic effort cybersecurity officials are exerting to make the online world as safe for us to use as possible. The best tool in defence against these vicious attacks is man himself, which is why cybersecurity education and training is a must in our everyday life.