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Currently, the biggest threat to businesses around the globe is even the tiniest breach in network security. If a malicious techie gets any level of access to your company’s files, you could be looking at millions of dollars–worth of reparations to clients and renovations to your security systems.
Many times, the breach in security isn’t due to your systems or process, but to your people. Employees — well, humans in general — are the weakest links when it comes to security of any sort, so while you can often rely on your data protection services when they’re working properly, you’ll likely find that your employees aren’t using the correct protocols and thus leaving your servers wide open for information thieves. In order to decrease the size of your vulnerability, you need to make sure your people completely understand the importance of security and their role in its upkeep. Here’s how to implement a network security awareness program in your office to keep your personal and private information safe.
Assess Employee Knowledge
Before you can start any real training, you need to understand what knowledge base your employees currently have in regards to network security. Knowing where your employees are in their understanding of these systems helps you develop a more efficient and effective curriculum so you don’t waste time and energy covering topics your employees already grasp well. For example, if you’re lucky, you might find that your employees have a solid foundation in understanding the necessity for security, but they are unaware of the company’s requirements and protocols. In this case, you don’t need to devote much time to educating them about the importance of network security, and you can move onto instruction of appropriate action.
Make Security Easy
Your employees don’t want the hassle of dealing with complex security features. If a system is too difficult to log into or to use, employees will probably choose to avoid that system in most of their work, which will both cost you money from an unused program or security feature and leave you vulnerable to information thieves. The simpler your network security, the more likely your employees are to utilize it properly.
However, you do want to balance simplicity with effective security. One password is generally not enough to keep out determined hackers nowadays. Multi-factor authentication is becoming easier to use as companies develop systems based upon the strengths of human memory and tools. Your employees should easily adapt to a two-factor authentication security system that uses a personal token as well as a password to gain access to the network.
Teach Something Every Day
It’s a simple lesson from grade school: The more often you practice, the better you’ll get. Instead of holding a security training session once a year — or worse, once period — make your employees continue their education by encouraging or enforcing more frequent exercises. You can schedule a monthly meeting where you or your systems manager review standard security procedures or teach a new aspect of network security. Alternatively, you can enact weekly quizzes about your company’s security protocols to make sure all employees fully understand the consequences of lax security.
Additionally, by making your employees use your security systems every day, perhaps by logging in and out fully any time they enter or leave their workstations, security will become routine, and they will start to participate in security measures simply by habit. Habits are learned, however, so you must make sure that your employees are practicing the protocols instead of ignoring them.
Monitor Your Employees
Quizzes and lessons will keep the importance of network security at the forefront of your employees’ minds, but just because your employees know about security measures doesn’t mean they’re practicing them.
There are many tests to make sure your employees are actually completing the necessary security measures required by your company. One of the more conclusive methods is hiring an outside agency to attempt to pierce your security and gain access to your network. However, you can also have your IT department monitor your employees’ behavior on their computers.
No matter how you choose to check up on your employees, be sure to punish those who break the rules and put your company at risk. Remedial training might be appropriate for first-time offenders, but if misbehavior continues, you cannot risk allowing such a vulnerability to persevere in your security. If you maintain a constant front against lax network security, you should see your employees respecting the rules and participating in the programs you institute.