Educating Staff on IT Risks and Security Threats

Teaching the fundamentals of cyber security

One of the best and most effective cyber security practices you can ever put in place is the education of your staff. At the end of the day, the most vulnerable point of any computer network is user error. 

Stock standard operating systems are fairly secure these days and generally block or preemptively warn you about suspicious activity. That's why we place such a large emphasis on user error and educating staff to ensure that they do not agree or get tricked into authorising anything causing errors.

These attacks generally occur from phishing emails tricking users to download infected files like ransomware or execute software installations with holes in them or supply login credentials. 

It is due to this enormous number of attacks, and how successful they are, that educating your staff on what they look like and how to avoid them can be such a great tool in improving your overall cyber security. After all, it doesn’t matter how good your network security is or how well your antivirus software works, if an employee simply hands their username and password to a hacker, there is nothing you can do.

Education

The best (and only) way to prevent user-based issues from occurring is to simply educate them about these issues. Teach them how to identify a malicious email or download and which websites they shouldn't go on. 

Your staff need to be educated on what the risks are, how to spot them and what to do if they encounter one.

If your staff are aware of these risks and consequences, chances are they will be more cautious and actively look out for and report any suspicious activity. No one wants these breaches to occur. 

Educating staff, while not completely removing these risks, goes a long way to lessening their potentially devastating impacts.

Our Recommendations

  • Host a ‘Cyber Security 101’ class and simply show staff some examples of common risks

    • Do some research, put together a few documents and tell them how to avoid any risks. Include examples of common attacks and pitfalls, such as malicious sites and downloads, phishing emails and weak passwords. Even if it is a very basic refresher, we can assure you it will save some headaches down the road.

  • As part of your new employee onboarding process provide some education on basic cyber security risks before you provide any network access. 

    • Remember, not everyone is tech-savvy and understands what constitutes a risk.

  • Send out emails/memos when new attacks are found circulating the web. 

    • These are published by many sources and can often be found in publications such as newspapers and subscription services. The Australian Government have a free service that alerts you whenever there is a new breach circulating. 

    • Tell staff what the attack is, how to avoid it and, most importantly, to install updates as soon as they are available to prevent unnecessary risk.

  • Encourage staff to report any suspicious emails or links. 

    • This will not only get your staff thinking more critically about emails and websites, but also provides you the opportunity to send out and present real-world examples during training.

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