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Cyber safety in the workplace

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John Sherman
2016-10-04

In this brave new digital age, we’re often left vulnerable to new and emerging threats to our safety from the “cyber” world. Although this is something that traditional workplaces never had to deal with, it seems to be the price we pay for the modern and convenient technology that we have today.

Even if you don’t think your company is especially vulnerable to cyber security threats, you should never underestimate the value of the sensitive information you’re privy too. Whether it relates to your customers and clients, employees, or your own personal information, there’s far more valuable data stored at your workplace than you might think.

Keeping your workplace protected from cyber threats is just as important as your own personal data, so you need to stay vigilant in order to stay ahead of evolving issues. No matter the size of your workplace or the backgrounds of your employees, there are a few simple ways you can ensure cyber safety so that your company and employee’s sensitive data can be kept private and secure.

The Serious Figures

In 2014, over 47% of Americans had their personal information stolen. That’s nearly half of the population. The main culprit? Workplaces with inadequate security measures that allowed the hackers into their systems to reach all of their customer’s files. Not only is cyber safety important for the sake of your workers, but also the clients who make your business run.

Although the actual figure is quite hard to determine, antivirus professionals Mcafee have estimated that cybercrimes cost us over $400 billion a year. Individual businesses in America felt the sting too, with just under 20% of them losing at least $50,000 due to cybercrimes. These figures indicate that it’s never been more important to keep yourself and your employees schooled on cyber safety in the workplace.

Take Care of Your Machine

If you can get into the mind frame that your computer is like a child to be cared for, you’re going to find it easier to protect it. Computers are sensitive pieces of technology, and they react just as well as we treat them.

Try not to store too many unwanted files on your desktop, be cautious about the software that you download, and always use up to date programs. You should have an antivirus, antispam, and antispyware program running at all times to catch any potential risks, and always keep your software updated with the latest versions.

Never Share Passwords

This one might sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people gloss over it. For some people, passwords are really the only protection level they have for their personal data.

While you might assume all hackers are lurking in the shadows in some faraway place, there are plenty of people within close distance who would love the chance to access your computer. You should never share your password with anyone, don’t write it down in the vicinity of your workstation, and change it every couple of months or as recommended by your IT department.

When in Doubt, Throw It Out

This age old adage goes just as well for your cyber safety too, and it’s an important one to remember as you check your emails each day. Hackers are smart, and they’ve figured out how to lure most reasonable people in with a few wisely worded email subject lines.

If you don’t know the sender then don’t open it, it’s as simple as that. Just one click could leave your entire computer infected, so it’s just not worth the risk. Most email software will have an automatic spam detection, but these are still computers after all so they can’t always be 100% accurate.

Keep Your Work Backed Up

Depending on your workplace’s network, you may be lucky enough to have an automatic backup system in place. If you don’t however, you should have your own backup procedure to follow in case of emergency.

At the end of each day, back up your files onto a separate location so that if anything does occur to your computer or network you’ll be able to pick up where you left off. Considering how much time and effort we put into our work each day, it’s one of the simplest ways you can insure yourself against being wiped out completely.

Stay Vigilant and Aware

Cyber criminals thrive on nonchalant people; those among us who could care less about cyber safety and seemingly break all of the rules. The best way to stay protected in the digital world is to stay alert and vigilant of all threats.

Be suspicious of websites that don’t seem right, avoid opening emails if you don’t know the sender, and religiously update your software to stay protected. While you might feel like a paranoid nut doing it, you’ll rest easy each night knowing that the information on your computer is safe and sound.

Training and Education Is Key

The single best thing you can do for your employees to keep the workplace safe from cyber-attacks is to have them informed and educated. With regular training about possible threats, safety procedures, and privacy information, you’re ensuring that they understand just how important cyber security is.

As hackers and cybercriminals pride themselves on staying ahead of the trends and being able to circumvent virus software and other security measures, you need to be just as vigilant. Training is the best way to do this, so you should consider it just as important as other skills you require from your employees.

Just as we would train our employees on potential health and safety risks in the physical world, so too should we put as much emphasis on the digital realm. Not only is their sensitive personal information up for grabs by any cybercriminal who wants it, but so too is the information that allows our businesses to run successfully.

If you want to learn more about cyber security, check out this free course on Cyber Security Awareness Training.

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