8 Easy Ways to Keep Your Employees Safe Online
The Importance Of Protecting Against Online Threats
Keeping your employees safe online is a critical component of protecting a company’s cyber assets. Data on your network, intellectual property, and ideas that are vital to your company’s success, all demand that you pay special attention to cyber security. Your employees, who often are the end users handling computer systems and using devices on the network, are the longest line of attack where a hacker can break in. Therefore, to keep your business safe, you need to recruit your employees as cyber security partners and actively promote their participation in keeping data safe online.
When your employees are online, threats come in multiple forms. These include phishing, cross-site scripting, scams, malware and various other forms of hacking. Keeping employees safe online is the responsibility of everyone in the organization. At the highest level, however, it is the responsibility of management and people with the ultimate authority.
With great power comes great responsibility. If you do not keep your employees safe online, the damage from hacks can put you out of business. At the very least, online security breaches can damage your company’s reputation or revenues.
Fortunately, keeping your employees safe online can be greatly aided by taking into account some standard security procedures. You will want to roll these out across your organization so that no employee is left exposed.
Tip 1: Use A VPN Service
The first, and perhaps most important, step in keeping your employees safe online is to adopt the use of a VPN service. A VPN, or virtual private network, is a means of exchanging data between your network and the public internet through a secure tunnel that is run through encrypted servers that handle the communication on your behalf. The use of encryption in the traffic between your computers and the VPN limits the risk of hackers intercepting your communications. How exactly this occurs is in the process of encryption. Data in the secure tunnel between your node and the VPN’s servers is scrambled through programmatic hashing such that it is jumbled up should anyone intercept it. This effectively spoils the ability of hackers to listen in on your network communication.
A VPN boosts your employees’ online security in several other ways. Man in the middle attacks is one such class of attacks. Hackers can also sniff for data packets on your networks, whether LAN or wireless and access the information passing through the network. Since sniffers can be hard to detect, employing a VPN with a tight security configuration is an essential step for keeping your employees safe online.
Our recommended choice for a VPN is LimeVPN. This popular VPN service will keep your employee’s online data safe from hackers.
Tip 2: Update Browsers And Other Software Regularly
Your employees use browsers to interact with pages on the internet all the time. As hackers well know, the browser is an opportune avenue for launching attacks on unsuspecting internet users.
When browsers from the various browser vendors get launched, inevitably, there are security vulnerabilities in the software. Some of these are due to outright programmer errors, such as bugs that use insecure techniques or leave loopholes that can be exploited by a malign party. Still more are due to security holes in the various software components being used, such as libraries and packages which the browser relies on to provide functionality.
Hackers, knowing how profitable these vulnerabilities can be, especially when occurring so widely, actively study popular web browsers and mine them for vulnerabilities to exploit. The result is that your employees are never as safe as they think when they innocently fire up a browser to access some web pages.
To protect employees against hackers who take advantage of exploits in web browsers, you should roll out automatic browser updates, ideally, on all company machines. Where this is not feasible, you should still have a policy in place and a process by which all employees download and apply the latest web browser software patches.
Tip 3: Restrict The Use Of Personal Devices On The Network
A common practice in the age of the smartphone is to allow wifi hotspots and other networks by which employees can access the network on their personal devices.
This practice, however, brings with it security loopholes that a hacker can use to breakthrough. The greatest of these is the risk posed by user’s lax security practices. A typical user’s smartphone will have no password lock, much less virtual private network installations or other normal and acceptable security measures.
Once a hacker gets access to these devices and breaches it, they can then browse your network and listen to traffic and spread malware in the network. To safeguard against this, you need to restrict the use of personal devices on the company networks.
Tip 4: Install Anti-virus Software On Personal Computers
Another great protection for your computer network is to ensure all your employees have anti-virus software installed and activated on their personal computers. Antivirus software works by scanning for malware as well as by monitoring activity on the computer to limit the reach of potential malware.
Since the antivirus software alerts the user when threats are found, the user can take action to remedy problems. In many cases, anti-virus will eliminate the identified threats with minimal technical input from the user. To make the best use of anti-viruses, your employees should be well acquainted with the software’s usage.
Tip 5: Do Not Give End Users Admin Access To Their Workstations, To Avoid Spreading Of Malware
As part of your security practices, you need to limit the administrative control that end users have over their workstations. In particular, you can start by not giving admin permissions to users on their workstations. This step alone will limit the surface area that a hacker has available for spreading malware across your computer network.
If all your users have admin access on their workstations, a single breach can be catastrophic. As soon as the hacker has breached one machine, they can take admin actions from that one machine. These actions can include logging into remote servers and updating or deleting data, installing programs or taking the computer network down.
Tip 6: Use Firewalls That Restrict Access To Harmful Websites
A strong firewall can limit the traffic between your network and the outside world, keeping your employees safe from online threats. You should use the firewall to cut off traffic to potentially hacked or harmful websites, such as file-sharing sites and gambling sites. Domains in the so-called “dark web” can spread all sorts of malware to unsuspecting users. As a result, you need to restrict access to all these websites.
In addition, you need to restrict the abilities of servers from these sites requesting information from your network.
Tip 7: Enforce A Strong Password Policy
When it comes to keeping employees safe at the personal level, having an especially strong password policy can limit external threats. Hackers typically exploit employees’ use of weak or common passwords, using brute force to guess and crack passwords.
Your password policy needs to require long, complex passwords. In addition, passwords in use on the network should be changed regularly, maybe every 30 or 90 days. To be effective, password changes must be automatically enforced, otherwise, users will never get around to changing the passwords.
Tip 8: Regularly Train Employees About Online Threats
The threats against your employees have many different incarnations. Phishing emails purporting to be legitimate business emails in your employee’s inboxes are one form. Trojan horses from innocent-looking websites are another. Your employees are hardly the most knowledgeable people about these threats.
To give your employees the best protection, therefore, you need to conduct regular cybersecurity training. These trainings, whether seminars or online courses, will teach your employees about the most common threats and how to defeat them. Having employees who are knowledgeable and proactively fighting against threats will keep your entire organization safe.
Keep Your Employees Safe With These Easy Steps
To keep your employees safe online, you have to take a number of actions, as we saw. The good part about it, however, is that keeping your employees safe does not have to be especially difficult. It starts with limiting the abilities of hackers to interact with your system, employing technology like VPNs, firewalls and limiting network admin permissions. Beyond that, roll out stringent password policies.
At the personal level, users should know why it is critical that they adopt strong and effective passwords. A strong password policy makes it harder for hackers to crack passwords and breach your network. Passwords should be changed on a regular basis. In addition, you should invest in your workers’ education concerning threats and cyber security practices. Everyone in the organization needs to adhere to strong cybersecurity practices that protect the individual and the entire company network.
With well-informed employees safeguarding the data they work with and the devices they interact with, hackers are going to have a much tougher time penetrating your computer network. Beyond these, you should also carefully scrutinize the devices on the network, limiting both the use of personal devices and limiting the abilities of anonymous devices to use company networks.