The safe and secure handling of digital information in the workplace seems as though it should be intuitive. It is one of those topics so imperative that it warrants an orientation for new employees, before being relegated to the realm of other workplace training seminars, like shared kitchen rules and human resources protocol. It’s just not something naturally at the top of your employees’ minds.
As a manager, however, you have a responsibility to your business, your subordinates, and your coworkers at large to be well versed in cybersecurity. Further, you need to impress upon your staff the importance of security in the workplace, and one way to do this is to remind them what is at stake when you let cybersecurity protocols get lax.
So what IS at stake when it comes to cybersecurity? More than you might think!
Here are a few reasons to reinforce cybersecurity awareness as a top priority for your business.
Your Client’s Trust
This one is a no brainer. When you work hard to establish yourself as a trusted and reliable point of service for your clients, it is disheartening to think that all of the time invested can be rendered moot in an instant. All it takes is one well-placed phishing email and a distracted employee to open it for all of your work to come crashing down around you.
For small businesses especially, your reputation is everything. You don’t need to be reminded that this increasingly digital world has bestowed tremendous power upon customers as potential reviewers. A couple poor reviews can sink your entire operation.
But, more than that, when you are managing a small business losing your client’s trust is a surefire way for your employees to lose respect and trust in you. And there is not an effective way to manage a group that doesn’t respect you: it will catch up with you, one way or another.
Your Workers’ Safety
In this burgeoning digital age, most everyone has a personal “smart” device that they will bring with them nearly everywhere. Whether it’s a phone or a laptop or even a watch, these devices are all internet compatible and, as a result, ripe for hackers and malware to take advantage of.
When these devices become so ubiquitous in the workplace, it’s natural that they should start slipping into the workflow of people. You’re probably guilty of it yourself, in fact. The line between work devices and personal devices becomes increasingly blurred, and people begin to take advantage of the convenience offered by consolidating their device usage.
This poses a threat to the business, for obvious reasons: malicious applications or programs installed on the workers’ personal device that is then connected to your workplace’s larger network can easily wreak havoc. Worse, it can compromise the private information of clients.
Just as important is the sanctity of your worker’s information. If the company’s network is connected to everyone’s individual personal devices, and one person’s negligence or inattentiveness jeopardizes the network, everyone is at risk for data breaches or worse.
What You Can Do
The first step to increasing your business’ cybersecurity is to be knowledgeable. As management, you have a responsibility to, at the very least, be well-versed in a variety of cyber threats your business could face.
You should discern whether your business’ specific industry is at greater risk for cyberattacks. While all businesses which use networks or computers at large are vulnerable, there are certain industries which invite attacks at greater rates. The reasons for this vary by industry. For example, businesses in the medical or healthcare field should show great care in their cybersecurity prevention measures, because the data at risk is simultaneously extremely valuable and extremely sensitive. Other industries at greater risk include energy industry and the military industry.
Next, you need to effectively translate your knowledge to your team members. This step is imperative, but it is harder than it sounds. Unlike your lecture on refrigerator etiquette in the shared kitchen, you can’t say your piece and be confident that it is all it will take to invite change.
You need to engage your workforce in the conversation. Be honest about what is at stake when they are lax in maintaining the integrity of your company’s cybersecurity. Cybersecurity awareness training should be an ongoing discussion. Invite feedback about what is and isn’t working, so that you can be sure all of your coworkers can implement policies effectively. For your employees to be invested in the outcome of the process, the decision making needs to be transparent about its goals.