In the past, securing the company’s most valuable secrets was quite an easy task. The manager would just shove the confidential papers into a safe and keep an eye on everyone who asked for the key. But in the era of internet and mass connectivity data can leak invisibly and often without the knowledge of the higher ups.
But it’s not hackers or disgruntled employees that are responsible for most of these privacy breaches, no. It’s the careless staff members, who often fail to follow even the most basic security precautions and ultimately put both the company’s and the customer’s data in jeopardy. In order to prevent the IT department from pulling their hair out, here are a few tips to motivate employees to start caring about online safety.
Motivating Employees… the Wrong Way
The reason why the staff can leave the door wide open for scammers and data thieves is usually because they are either careless or uninformed. It's a pure liability to have people work for you who are indifferent towards the information system. But how can you teach them about the dangers of such ignorance? First of all, forget those boring group lessons. Rounding up employees like cattle and forcing them to watch a mind-numbing presentation — complete with a slideshow — gives people very little incentive to follow the instructions, and it’s likely the info presented will be totally forgotten.
The other mistake employers might make is to have a hot-tempered IT guy shout in their face. Shaming someone in front of the whole office won’t encourage the person to be more careful. Quite the opposite, in fact, since they’ll most likely keep neglecting their duty out of sheer spite.
However, going in the opposite direction is just as futile. Promising bonuses and prizes for top employees who keep their security rate at maximum will drive a wedge between co-workers. This would make them feel no reason to help others, and instead everyone would abandon comradery and teamwork in hopes of snatching the reward before everybody else.
Cultivating Pride and Responsibility
It’s important to mention that people will gladly follow the recommended security steps if it is convenient for them. If the safety measures are as easy as pushing a button, then chances are high that employees will follow through with it because they will only despise a process if it increases their workload. For example, there must be a tried and tested method of reporting suspicious messages to the IT department. Companies should also provide their workers with an account for a password manager. Such software makes it easy for the employees to create, save and use complicated passwords for every account that they have.
Don’t give up on the idea of educating the staff, though. Just ditch the boring lectures and inspire word of mouth instead. People are easily motivated by learning about real security breaches that happened with other companies. On one hand, reading an article that explains that poor handling of information could lead to job loss might scare them straight. But it’s also true that workers feel responsibility towards others, and they’ll share such articles with others, warning them to be more cautious. In brief, true stories are far more effective than slideshow presentations.
Helping Their Work With the Right Tools
Using a weak password poses a security risk both inside and outside of the office. Be sure that employees understand that being lazy and unimaginative with the passwords leaves the window open for data thieves. The best-case scenario is to have a completely different password for every account and piece of software that they use. However, the staff might argue that they cannot keep so much stuff in mind, in which case it is effective to invest in a password manager. Companies often grant discounts on group purchases for small businesses or teams. Furthermore, apps like 1Password provide managers with extra tools to customize the settings and privileges of their employees.
Other helpful tools to prevent insidious data trackers and malware from following a worker accessing the internet is to install a VPN on their computer. By creating masked IPs they can avoid bandwidth throttling, access region-blocked content and most importantly encrypt their data stream. VPNs offer numerous safety features to protect the identity of oblivious or careless workers, such as DNS and WebRTC leak prevention and a kill switch function that aborts the connection if the VPN fails to connect – however briefly. VPNs are especially useful for companies with employees working remotely or traveling regularly since it allows them to connect worry-free to public Wi-Fi and ensure their data is protected. As with password managers, VPN service providers also provide offers to managers that opt for purchasing multiple accounts with various discounts.
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