This evidence suggests a quick refresher course or lunchtime session on IT security could be one of the most valuable precautions you take in protecting the integrity of your company’s IT network and data. If that’s not possible, then ensure your staff avoid these six bad habits.
Habit 1: Opening links and downloading unfamiliar files from emails
Downloading malware and viruses from phishing emails is still one of the most common forms of IT infections. In the aforementioned Teamviewer survey, 58 per cent of employees opened inappropriate email attachments. The problem is so pervasive that the FBI has a concerted global campaign to disrupt the importance of email as a vector for spreading malware, like the CryptoLocker virus.
Most junk emails typically spoof trusted brands, including shipping and phone companies, online retailers, social networking sites and financial institutions. These emails lure unsuspecting readers to open links to invoices, order confirmations or unpaid bills. The links have been replaced with those of a compromised site and once clicked on, this will activate malware in various forms. Educate your staff not to open unidentified attachments or follow links in emails without checking the destination of the URL first. Also restrict your employees from loading pictures in emails when a mail is opened – sometimes malware comes attached to images.
Habit 2: Putting off upgrades
Software upgrades aren’t just unnecessary hassle, they are vitally important. Most programs and software maintain their safety through patches to prevent vulnerabilities being exploited by cybercriminals, so it’s vitally important for your employees to keep their software up-to-date and to use the latest version. This is particularly important with antivirus software. Encourage and educate your employees to keep all their software updated, particularly if you don’t have a central IT team to administer upgrades.
Habit 3: Forgetting to back up data
Sadly all computers fail at some point and when they die a whole lot of unbacked up data can go with them. That’s why it’s essential that data is backed up regularly to ensure that all that information isn’t lost to the ether, and this AVG ebook explains more on how to do it. Backing up via hard drives is often the chosen option, but is it the best? Hard drives are vulnerable, particularly if there is a physical disaster, such as a flood or fire that damages your businesses premises. And they can be easily lost or stolen too. Cloud-based online back-up solutions offer a safe and easy alternative to protect your employees and the businesses data that they use.
Habit 4: Having one password for all online services
Weak passwords are open doors to cyber criminals. Maintaining strong passwords has become even more of a priority following the discovery of the recent Heartbleed bug with many online services recommending that users change their passwords across all their online accounts. There are three rules for password security. Firstly, ensure you have different passwords for different sites. Secondly, choose difficult combinations of letters, numbers, symbols as well as upper and lower cases. Thirdly, change your passwords every three-to-six months.
Many users complain that they can’t keep track of multiple passwords and there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to remember passwords and locking yourself out of accounts. Either keep an encrypted file on your computer with password information or use a password manager to look after password safety.
Habit 5: Never rebooting your computer
How many of your employees down tools and walk out of the office at the end of a day, but don’t shut their computer down? Quite a few I guess. It’s important to shut down and reboot computers to ensure that all the software updates have been properly installed and are not sitting idle in the background. Software programs do sometimes suffer from memory leaks meaning that they are use more and more of your computer’s resources over time, however, when you reboot the software clears itself and starts again from a clean state. Ensuring that your employees get into the habit of shutting their computer down when they leave work is good practise and also saves on energy use.
Habit 6: Browsing social media sites
It goes without saying that your employees will be surfing the web and looking at social media sites while they are at work. Education about the safe use of social media is a topic in itself, but employees should exercise the same caution when clicking on shared links on social media sites as they do with emails. Videos are frequently used as a way to lure unsuspecting users into clicking on dodgy links that deliver a nasty virus, malware or adware and not the promised video.
Andrew Tipp is a writer, editor and strategist working in digital publishing. He has blogged for The Huffington Post, and written for business, entrepreneur and startup websites.