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65+ essential cybersecurity tips for employees

PostsSoftware development
Georgina Guthrie

Georgina Guthrie

February 23, 2024

Cybercrime is predicted to cost the world $9.5 trillion in 2024, with Cyberark warning of a massive 30% rise in company data breaches this year alone. The world is increasingly online, and savvy hackers have a lot to gain — which is why it’s increasingly important to a) know what you’re up against; and b) fight back. 

Cyberark’s three-year predictions 

To help you win this battle, we’ve rounded up a comprehensive list of tips to bolster your cyber defenses, keeping you and your organization safe from potential digital dangers. From beginner tips like password hygiene to the ins and outs of VPNs and beyond, we’ve got you covered.

What is cybersecurity awareness?

Cybersecurity awareness is a toolkit for guarding your digital assets against cyber threats. 

It’s about grasping the wide array of hacker tactics out there — think phishing scams, malware infections, ransomware lockdowns, and social engineering tricks. But more than just understanding the threats, it’s about understanding the risks and being proactive in protecting your data, ensuring you’re always a step ahead in the digital safety game. 

  • Know the risks associated with various cyber threats (and yes, even small businesses are at risk) 
  • Understanding how different types of cyberattacks work
  • Recognizing the role each individual plays in the organization’s cyber defense.

What does this mean for employees?

For employees, cybersecurity awareness means being equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to protect not just their own information but also the company’s data and systems. It involves:

  • Identifying suspicious emails or links that could lead to phishing attacks.
  • Creating and managing strong passwords to secure accounts.
  • Understanding the importance of regular software updates and patches to mitigate vulnerabilities.
  • Being aware of the information shared on social media and how it could be used in social engineering attacks.

Why do organizations need to educate employees about cybersecurity?

The human element often remains the weakest link in an organization’s cybersecurity defense. Educating employees about cybersecurity is, therefore, a critical investment in the company’s overall security posture. 

Here are the main reasons it should be top of every CIO’s to-do list. 

  • Preventing data breaches: Employees handle sensitive data, making them prime targets for cybercriminals. Well-educated employees can recognize and avoid phishing attempts, improper data sharing, and other risky behaviors that lead to breaches.
  • Compliance and legal requirements: Educating employees helps organizations comply with any laws, avoiding hefty fines and legal complications.
  • Protecting brand reputation: A single cybersecurity incident can severely damage a company’s reputation, eroding customer trust and loyalty. Knowledgeable employees help safeguard the organization’s public image.
  • Cost reduction: The average cost of a data breach is 4.45 million, according to a report by IBM. That’s because the cost goes beyond just the immediate financial impact. There’s long-term recovery, legal fees, and increased insurance premiums, not to mention loss of customer support. A well-informed workforce acts as a preventive measure, potentially saving millions.
  • Cultivating a security culture: When employees understand the risks and their roles in mitigating them, they’re more likely to take ownership for the digital safety of the company.
  • Adaptation to evolving threats: Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and what was secure yesterday may not be safe today. Continuous education keeps employees abreast of the latest threats. 

Essential cybersecurity tips for every business 

Keeping your digital world secure doesn’t have to feel like a daunting task. Think of cybersecurity as a team sport where every player’s actions matter. Here are some fundamental yet powerful tips to keep you and your organization safe. Remember, it’s all about making small, consistent efforts that add up to a big impact.

Part 1: Cybersecurity tips for employees 

Let’s warm up with some good general tips. They apply to everyone in an organization, but they’re useful to know for your own personal safety too. 

1. Embrace strong, unique passwords

Think of your password like a toothbrush — choose a good one, don’t share it, and change it regularly. Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Consider using a passphrase that’s easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess. For instance, ‘BlueSky@MorningCoffee!’ is much stronger and easier to recall than ‘XgT47!Pq.’

A password manager can generate solid and unique options for each of your accounts and securely store them so you don’t have to remember each one. Just make sure to use a reputable provider.

2. Use two-factor authentication (2FA)

Adding an extra verification step can be the difference between keeping your accounts safe and giving hackers a free pass. Most services offer 2FA options like a code sent to your phone or generated through an app. It’s like adding a deadbolt to your digital doors.

3. Spot phishing attempts with a detective’s eye

Phishing is a type of social engineering that involves emails or messages that are to try and trick you into giving away sensitive information. 

They often look like they’re from a legitimate source but usually have telltale signs of being fake, like poor spelling, generic greetings, or urgent requests for information. Always verify the authenticity of requests through known, official channels rather than clicking on links in emails. When in doubt, contact the company directly using a trusted phone number or website.

4. Keep your software up to date

Regular updates can feel like a chore, but they’re crucial for protecting against known vulnerabilities that hackers exploit. Set your devices to update automatically wherever possible. This includes your operating system, applications, and any security software you’re using.

5. Back up your data like it’s your digital treasure

Regular backups to an external drive or cloud service ensure that you can recover your important files in case of a cyberattack, such as ransomware or hardware failure. 

6. Secure your device with auto-lock 

Just like you wouldn’t leave your house door unlocked, don’t leave your devices open for anyone to access. Set them to auto-lock after a period of inactivity and use a strong password or biometric lock to secure them.

7. Be cautious with wifi networks

Public wifi networks are convenient but not always secure. Avoid accessing sensitive information or making transactions on these networks. If you need to, use a reputable VPN to encrypt your data, making it much harder for others on the network to snoop on your activities or hijack your session.

8. Understand app permissions

Before downloading an app, take a moment to read what permissions it asks for. Be wary of apps requesting access to information or functions they don’t need to operate. For instance, a calculator app shouldn’t need access to your contacts. 

In addition, periodically audit the permissions you’ve granted so far to make sure they’re strictly necessary. Similarly, review your account privacy settings on social media and other platforms to control who can see your information and posts.

9. Educate yourself on the basics of cybersecurity

Knowledge is power. Take the time to learn about different types of cyber threats and the basic principles of digital hygiene. Follow reputable cybersecurity news sources and blogs to stay updated on new threats and security advice. And if your organization offers cybersecurity awareness training, participate actively. This proactive approach helps you adapt to the evolving cyber landscape and protect against emerging risks.

10. Promote and practice digital mindfulness

Be mindful of the links you click, the information you share online, and the networks you connect to. Taking a moment to think before acting can prevent many common cybersecurity mistakes.

11. Turn on firewall protection for your devices

Most operating systems come with a built-in firewall, which acts as a barrier between your computer and the internet, filtering out unauthorized or potentially harmful traffic. Make sure your firewall is enabled to add an extra layer of defense.

12. Use ad blockers and script blockers

Ads and scripts on websites can sometimes be used to deliver malware or track your online activities. Using ad blockers and script blockers helps protect your privacy and keep your device safe from malicious content. Just remember to whitelist sites you trust and want to support.

13. Dispose of digital information securely

Just like shredding sensitive paper documents, digital files containing personal or company information should be securely deleted when no longer needed. Use digital shredding tools that overwrite data, making it unrecoverable, to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

14. Verify the security of your online transactions

Look for signs that indicate a transaction is secure when shopping or conducting business online. This includes checking for the HTTPS protocol and the lock symbol in the browser address bar. Additionally, use credit cards for online purchases when possible, as they often offer better fraud protection than debit cards.

15. Limit the use of external devices on your computer

Be cautious about connecting external devices, like USB drives or smartphones, to your computer, especially if they’re not yours. These devices might be infected with malware that can automatically install itself on your computer.

16. Engage in safe email practices

Avoid sending sensitive personal or company information via email unless it’s encrypted. Be cautious about opening attachments or clicking on links in emails from unknown or suspicious sources.

17. Manage your digital footprint

Every post you make, every account you create, adds to your digital footprint. Regularly review and clean up your online presence. Delete old accounts you no longer use, and think twice before posting anything that could be used against you or misinterpreted in the future.

18. Embrace HTTPS

Always check for the https:// prefix in the URL before entering any personal or sensitive information. This ensures your data is encrypted and secure during transmission. 

19. Think before you click

Hover over links to see where they lead before clicking. Be skeptical of URLs that look suspicious or don’t match the context of the message or Google page titles that don’t match the URL. This simple habit can prevent you from landing on malicious sites designed to steal your information.

20. Secure your email with encryption

When sending sensitive information via email, use encryption tools to protect the content. Many email services offer encryption options that ensure only the intended recipient can read your message. This is especially important in workplaces, which are often top targets for hackers.

21. Educate yourself on the signs of identity theft

Regularly check your financial statements and be on the lookout for signs of identity theft, like unknown transactions or accounts. Early detection can significantly mitigate the damage.

22. Practice safe shopping habits online

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or ordering some new office furniture — shop only on secure, reputable websites. Look for customer reviews and ratings to gauge the legitimacy of the site. Use credit cards when possible, as they offer better fraud protection compared to debit cards or direct bank transfers. And never buy items via Facebook links! 

23. Use reputable antivirus software

A good antivirus program can protect you from a multitude of online threats, including viruses, spyware, and ransomware. Set it to update automatically to ensure you’re protected against the latest threats. 

24. Regularly update your privacy settings

Social media platforms and other online services frequently update their privacy policies and settings. Make it a habit to check these settings regularly to ensure your information remains private and is shared only with your intended audience.

25. Enable login notifications

Many services offer the option to receive notifications for new logins from unknown devices or locations. Turn on these alerts to spot unauthorized access attempts the second they happen, allowing you to take swift action.

26. Be mindful of information sharing on social media

Oversharing on social media can expose you to risks like identity theft or social engineering attacks. Think carefully about the personal details you share online, such as your birthday, address, or vacation plans, which can be used maliciously.

27. Implement DNS filtering

DNS filtering can block malicious websites and filter out unwanted content based on your settings. It’s an effective way to prevent access to phishing sites, malicious domains, and other online threats.

28. Conduct regular security audits of your online accounts

Periodically review your online accounts for any signs of unusual activity. Check for unauthorized posts, messages, or transactions that could indicate your account has been compromised.

Part 2: Cybersecurity tips for remote workers

The shift to remote work has opened up new possibilities for flexibility and productivity. But it also introduced unique cybersecurity challenges. Here’s how you can secure your digital workspace, no matter where it is.

29. Secure your home network

Start with the basics — make sure your wifi is locked down tight. Change those factory-set passwords to something only you know, and if you’ve got it, switch on WPA3 encryption for added security. Keeping your router’s software fresh is also key. And when it’s time to start work, a VPN is your best friend. It creates a secure tunnel for your internet traffic, encrypting data from your remote location to your company’s network. Always use a company-approved VPN when accessing corporate resources to safeguard sensitive information.

30. Keep work and personal devices separate

Use dedicated devices for work activities if possible. This separation helps prevent cross-contamination where personal activities might expose work devices to security risks, and vice versa. If using personal devices for work, be sure to apply strict privacy and security settings.

31. Maintain the physical security of your devices

In a remote setting, the risk of theft or unauthorized access to your devices increases. Always lock your screen when stepping away, even at home, and store devices securely when not in use.

32. Be cautious with cloud storage

While cloud services offer convenience for remote work, be mindful of the security settings. Use encryption for sensitive files and understand the privacy policies of your cloud provider to ensure your data is protected.

33. Implement strong authentication methods

Beyond passwords, utilize biometric authentication like fingerprint or facial recognition for device access where available. For accessing corporate systems, use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security.

34. Stay vigilant against fake colleague requests

Remote workers are often targeted by phishing campaigns. Be extra cautious with all incoming communications, especially those urging immediate action or asking for personal or company information.

35. Conduct regular backups

Regularly back up important work data to a secure location, like an encrypted external hard drive or a corporate cloud service. This ensures you can recover your work in case of data loss or a cyberattack.

36. Follow company security policies and guidelines

Adhere to your organization’s cybersecurity policies and guidelines, even when WFH. These are designed to protect both you and the company’s digital assets, providing specific instructions on security practices for remote work.

37. Use encrypted communication 

When discussing company matters or sharing sensitive information, use encrypted communication tools approved by your organization to protect the confidentiality of the conversation. 

Avoid storing company data on your local device unless absolutely necessary and approved by your company. And be wary of sharing sensitive information during video conferences — use passwords for meetings and up-to-date software to protect against unauthorized access and eavesdropping. 

38. Disable auto-connect to networks

Make sure your devices don’t automatically connect to public wifi networks. These networks can be insecure and expose your device to potential attacks. Always manually select trusted networks when connecting.

39. Use secure file-sharing solutions

When sharing files with colleagues or clients, use secure, encrypted file-sharing services that are approved by your organization. Avoid using personal file-sharing accounts for work-related documents.

40. Be mindful of background noise during calls

Sensitive information can inadvertently be disclosed to others if background conversations are overheard during conference calls or video meetings. Use a headset, and try to find a quiet, private space for calls.

41. Protect printed materials

If you print documents containing sensitive information, keep them secure and out of sight. Shred any such documents when they’re no longer needed to prevent unauthorized access.

42. Monitor your work environment for security risks

Regularly assess your home office for potential security risks, such as unsecured personal devices that could be exploited to gain access to your work devices.

43. Report security incidents immediately

If you suspect a security breach or have fallen victim to a cyberattack, report it to your organization’s IT or cybersecurity team immediately. Prompt action can minimize the damage.

44. Use a physical security key for authentication

For accounts that support it, consider using a physical key as a form of two-factor authentication. This adds a layer of security that is difficult for attackers to bypass.

45. Limit the use of plug-and-play devices

Devices like USB flash drives can be a source of malware. Use them sparingly and only those from trusted sources. Ensure your computer’s settings prompt you to approve the connection of new devices.

Part 3: Cybersecurity tips for managers

Creating a secure cyber environment is a collective effort, with management playing a starring role in guiding and enforcing cybersecurity policies. 

46. Foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness

Encourage an organizational culture where cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. Promote awareness through regular communications, training, and updates on cybersecurity issues. Highlight the importance of security in protecting the organization’s assets and reputation.

As part of this, make sure the culture also empowers to report potential security threats or breaches without fear of retribution. An open communication policy can lead to early detection and resolution.

47. Implement strong cybersecurity policies

Develop and enforce clear cybersecurity policies that cover all aspects of the organization’s operations. These should include guidelines on password management, device usage, data protection, and response plans for security incidents.

48. Provide regular training and simulations

Organize ongoing cybersecurity training sessions for all employees, including simulated phishing attacks and scenario-based training. This helps to keep staff alert to potential threats and reinforces the practical application of cybersecurity practices.

49. Enable secure remote work practices

With remote work becoming more common, ensure employees have the tools and knowledge to secure their home networks and devices. This includes VPN access, secure file-sharing platforms, and guidelines on physical security at home.

50. Enforce access controls and privilege management

Implement strict access control measures to ensure that employees can only access the information necessary for their roles. Use the principle of least privilege to minimize the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive data.

51. Establish clear incident response plans

Develop a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines procedures for responding to cyber incidents. This should include steps for containment, investigation, remediation, and communication with stakeholders.

52. Promote password hygiene and secure authentication methods

They should be strong and unique, and combined with multi-factor authentication across the whole organization. Consider implementing password management tools to facilitate secure practices.

53. Regularly audit and assess cybersecurity posture

Conduct regular cybersecurity audits to identify vulnerabilities and gaps in the organization’s security defenses. Use these findings to inform and adjust security strategies and investments.

54. Collaborate with industry partners and authorities

Engage with other organizations, industry groups, and cybersecurity authorities to share information about threats and best practices. Collaboration can enhance the collective security knowledge and resilience of the broader community.

55. Support a healthy work-life balance

Recognize that employee burnout can lead to lapses in cybersecurity practices. Promote a healthy work-life balance to help staff stay focused and vigilant against threats.

56. Leverage cybersecurity frameworks and standards

Adopt internationally recognized cybersecurity frameworks, such as NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) or ISO/IEC 27001, to guide your cybersecurity strategy. These frameworks provide best practices and guidelines to manage and reduce cybersecurity risks.

57. Establish a cybersecurity steering committee

Form a committee that includes representatives from different departments (IT, HR, Legal, Finance) to oversee the organization’s cybersecurity initiatives. This ensures a holistic approach that incorporates diverse perspectives.

58. Integrate cybersecurity into business continuity planning

Cybersecurity threats should be considered in the organization’s business continuity and disaster recovery plans. These plans should include procedures for maintaining operations and protecting data integrity in the event of a cyberattack.

59. Promote the principle of zero trust

Adopt a zero-trust security model, which assumes that threats could originate from anywhere, and nothing should be trusted implicitly. Implement strict verification processes for accessing the organization’s network and resources, regardless of whether access is requested from inside or outside the organization’s network.

60. Conduct third-party security assessments

Regularly evaluate the security practices of third-party vendors and partners who have access to your organization’s data or systems. Make sure they adhere to your cybersecurity standards to mitigate the risk of a data breach through a third party.

61. Invest in cyber insurance

Consider purchasing cyber insurance to mitigate financial risks associated with data breaches, cyber extortion, and other cyber incidents. Cyber insurance can give you a financial safety net and support recovery efforts.

62. Encourage ethical hacking initiatives

Engage with ethical hackers or conduct penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities in your organization’s systems and networks. These proactive measures can reveal security weaknesses before they’re exploited by malicious actors.

63. Monitor and analyze security logs

Monitor logs and network traffic for suspicious activity. Use security information and event management (SIEM) tools to analyze and correlate data, which can help you pick up incidents earlier.

64. Build a resilient IT infrastructure

Invest in resilient IT infrastructure that can withstand attacks and recover quickly from breaches. This includes redundant systems, secure cloud services, and effective data backup and recovery solutions. 

65. Review and refine your cybersecurity policies regularly

Cybersecurity is an ever-evolving field, and what worked yesterday may not be sufficient tomorrow. Regularly review and update your policies and practices to address new threats and incorporate technological advancements.

66. Encourage a proactive approach to cybersecurity

Instead of reacting to threats as they occur, adopt a proactive stance. This includes conducting regular risk assessments, threat hunting, and investing in predictive security measures to identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

67. Document and learn from security incidents

When a security incident occurs, document everything from detection to resolution. Conduct a post-incident analysis to understand what happened, why it happened, and how similar incidents can be prevented in the future. Sharing these learnings can help the entire organization improve its security posture.

68. Invest in robust security technologies

Utilize advanced security technologies, like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and endpoint security solutions. Regularly review and update these technologies to guard against evolving cyber threats. And if you use collaboration tools, choose ones that offer enterprise-grade encryption, like Nulab Pass

With audit logs, SAML single sign-on, and user provisioning, Nulab Pass fortifies your team’s collaboration to the highest security standards. This means every message, timeline and project is under digital lock and key. Ready to take it for a spin? Try it for free today. 



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