Employees Are Letting Hackers Into Your Network … What You Can Do To Stop It

November 16th, 2020
Employees Are Letting Hackers Into Your Network … What You Can Do To Stop It

Cyberthreats are everywhere these days. Hackers, scammers and cybercriminals are working overtime to break into your network – and the network of just about every business out there. They have a huge arsenal of tools at their disposal, from automated bots to malicious advertising networks, to make it possible.

But there is one “tool” that you may be putting directly into their hands: your employees. Specifically, your employees’ lack of IT security training.

While most of us expect hackers to attack from the outside using malware or brute-force attacks (hacking, in a more traditional sense), the truth is that most hackers love it when they can get others to do their work for them.

In other words, if they can fool your employees into clicking on a link in an email or downloading unapproved software onto a company device, all the hackers have to do is sit back while your employees wreak havoc. The worst part is that your employees may not even realize that their actions are compromising your network. And that’s a problem.

Even if you have other forms of network security in place – malware protection, firewalls, secure cloud backup, etc. – it won’t be enough if your employees lack good IT security training. In fact, a lack of training is the single biggest threat to your network!

It’s time to do something about it. Comprehensive network security training accomplishes several things, including:

1. Identifying Phishing Emails Phishing emails are constantly evolving. It used to be that the average phishing email included a message littered with bad grammar and misspelled words. Plus, it was generally from someone you’d never heard of.

These days, phishing emails are a lot more clever. Hackers can spoof legitimate email addresses and websites and make their emails look like they’re coming from a sender you actually know. They can disguise these emails as messages from your bank or other employees within your business.

You can still identify these fake emails by paying attention to little details that give them away, such as inconsistencies in URLs in the body of the email. Inconsistencies can include odd strings of numbers in the web address or links to YourBank.net instead of YourBank.com. Good training can help your employees recognize these types of red flags.

2. Avoiding Malware Or Ransomware Attacks One reason why malware attacks work is because an employee clicks a link or downloads a program they shouldn’t. They might think they’re about to download a useful new program to their company computer, but the reality is very different.

Malware comes from many different sources. It can come from phishing emails, but it also comes from malicious ads on the Internet or by connecting an infected device to your network. For example, an employee might be using their USB thumb drive from home to transfer files (don’t let this happen!), and that thumb drive happens to be carrying a virus. The next thing you know, it’s on your network and spreading.

This is why endpoint protection across the board is so important. Every device on your network should be firewalled and have updated malware and ransomware protection in place. If you have remote employees, they should only use verified and protected devices to connect to your network. (They should also be using a VPN, or virtual private network, for even more security.) But more importantly, your employees should be trained on this security. They should understand why it’s in place and why they should only connect to your network using secured devices.

3. Updating Poor Or Outdated Passwords If you want to make a hacker’s job easier than ever, all you have to do is never change your password. Or use a weak password, like “QWERTY” or “PASSWORD.” Even in enterprise, people still use bad passwords that never get changed. Don’t let this be you!

A good IT security training program stresses the importance of updating passwords regularly. Even better, it shows employees the best practices in updating the passwords and in choosing secure passwords that will offer an extra layer of protection between your business and the outside world.

If you or your employees haven’t updated their passwords recently, a good rule of thumb is to consider all current passwords compromised. When hackers attack your network, two of the big things they look for are usernames and passwords. It doesn’t matter what they’re for – hackers just want this information. Why? Because most people do not change their passwords regularly, and because many people are in the habit of reusing passwords for multiple applications, hackers will try to use these passwords in other places, including bank accounts.

Don’t let your employees become your biggest liability. These are just a few examples of how comprehensive IT and network security training can give your employees the knowledge and resources they need to help protect themselves and your business. Just remember, you do not have to do this by yourself! Good IT training programs are hard to find, and we are here to help.