Cyber crime continues to be an enormous threat to businesses. The latest figures from Financial Fraud Action UK show that during 2016 online attacks compromised data as well as caused lost data, financial loss and damage to reputations. We hear about the devastating consequences of cyber crime nearly every time we turn on the television or listen to radio. All around us are reminders of the growing need for companies to take better preventative action against cyber crime.
The Fight Against Fraud and Cyber Crime
Fraudulent activity online is a continual challenge for businesses of all sizes. What’s more, insider threats are one of the chief problem areas. Employees are truly the weak link in many businesses’ security strategy, most often because of simple human error. Companies can protect themselves from the inside out by educating their staff about the risks of cyber crime.
Protecting Your Business
Unattended devices, weak passwords and security ignorance can compromise your business and cost your company its reputation and finances. But you can provide strong training for your staff to protect your business against cyber attacks. Educate your employees in engaging and relevant ways that will help them to feel part of the solution and encourage them to join with you in your fight against fraud.
Don’t neglect to include senior employees and IT personnel in these sessions, as well. Despite their more knowledgeable positions, these are the people in your company who have access to the most vulnerable information. As such, they present a higher risk if they fall into complacency, making them a more attractive target for hackers.
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Help Employees Understand the Consequences
It is likely that many employees feel disconnected from the wider implications of a fraudulent attack on your business. However, if you help your staff understand the consequences of a cyber breach in a way that relates directly to them and their actions, employees will be more likely to increase their vigilance when it comes to cyber security.
Use examples they can relate to, showing how an attack can affect them personally. Then they will better understand the risks and take more responsibility for their actions.
Use Strong Passwords
Weak passwords are a main cause of hacking attacks. Train your employees to use strong passwords that are at least 12 characters long. Ensure that they use a different password for each of their accounts, mitigating the spread of a hacking attack if it occurs. Implementing two-step authentication processes, where a login requires a phone code as well as a password, is also a good way of protecting vulnerable data.
Beware of Suspicious Links
Phishing emails are one of the main ways hackers target employees. These emails contain malicious links to viruses or ransomware that can infect your system and give hackers access to your information. Warn your employees about clicking on suspicious links both in emails and online, even if they recognise the source. Make sure your company’s spam filters are in place and that your staff know how to recognise suspicious behaviour online.
Limit your staff’s download activity so that they can only access necessary files and programs whilst at work. This can help reduce the risk of viruses and your employees will approach unknown content with more caution.
How to Respond to Attacks
Educate employees about the risks of fraud and give them proper training in cyber security before an attack occurs, to reduce the possibility of a cyber breach. However, if an attempt should occur, take the following steps when responding to an attack to limit the damage:
1. Make Cyber Crime Easy to Report
Provide your staff with a direct line of communication with your system administrator, and strongly encourage them to report any suspicious online behaviour. Make sure everyone knows what steps to take if they detect a potential threat. Train them to deal with any problems that crop up quickly and efficiently, preventing a security breach spreading into a larger-scale attack. If an administrator becomes aware of one of these issues, he or she should notify everyone in the company. Then your staff can implement your recovery process as smoothly as possible.
2. Consult Your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans
Your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans should be the first port of call when anyone detects an attack. These documents should lay out a clear plan of response to a cyber breach. Your plans should address each area of your business and the recovery process in order of priority. In this fashion, you can recover lost data and services and move towards resuming business as usual. Make sure these plans are thoroughly tested before a breach occurs so you know you can rely on them.
3. Inform Your Customers
Have a strong public relations strategy in place so that you can reassure customers and investors after an attack. If an attack occurs, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your company’s commitment to its customers. Doing so will help to mitigate any damage to your company’s reputation.
Whatever happens, knowledge is your most powerful weapon against cyber fraud. Proper employee education that teaches staff about preventative and recovery methods will go a long way towards reducing cyber crime and help your employees to respond effectively to an attack.
However, don’t just supply your employees with information. Empower them to be the solution with engaging, informative training sessions that prepare them to be your powerful fraud-prevention team.