Regardless of the size of your business, it would be best if you prioritized cybersecurity. The last thing you want is to experience a data breach or hack, which is why providing employee cybersecurity training is so important.

Starting a business amid the COVID-19 pandemic can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on cybersecurity. Making sure all of your employees understand cybersecurity and have access to free cybersecurity awareness training materials will help keep them and your customers safe. Fortunately, as you will see, training employees in reliable security practices is easy and free.

The Dangers of Cybersecurity for Your Small Business

Many small business owners think hackers won’t target them because their businesses are too small. However, that is a grave mistake, as hackers will target any business, especially if it has weak cybersecurity protocols.

Malware and viruses can infect your computers and steal important company information, such as bank account details, employee information, and even customer details. The last thing you want is for your customer data to get leaked, evaporating any trust you worked so hard to build.

Another common threat is ransomware, which is a type of malware that takes over your computer system. Hackers then demand you pay a ransom, usually in Bitcoin, for them to give you back control.

Cybersecurity training for staff can help employees understand the importance of using robust antivirus software and how to avoid phishing attempts and malware when browsing online.

Protect Your Employees’ Sensitive Information

Protecting your employees’ sensitive information helps shield them and you. Hackers who gain access to employee information, such as birth dates, Social Security numbers, and even credit card information, can use that data to steal money, blackmail employees, and more.

It would be best if you protect your software and your hardware. Secure your network, but also protect your physical laptops so nobody can steal them. Of course, when it comes to employee data, your staffers will also need to be careful they are not entering their data on a phishing site or otherwise exposing it.

Online cybersecurity awareness training for employees can help your staff spot harmful websites and provide awareness about things not to do, such as entering passwords on an open Wi-Fi network.

Protect Your Company’s Sensitive Information

There are several types of sensitive information you need to safeguard. We already talked about employee data, but it goes beyond that. You need to take stock of all the data you store and categorize it as sensitive information or not.

For example, do you store customer credit card details? That is an example of highly sensitive information. In general, you should treat any customer data with the utmost care.

Some ways to protect sensitive information include:

  • Using a firewall to protect yourself against hacking attempts
  • Installing a VPN (virtual private network) on your computers or otherwise encrypting your network data
  • Installing antivirus and antimalware software on your computers (make sure they monitor and scan for viruses and malware periodically)
  • Making sure all software and hardware you use are updated regularly
  • Requiring multi-factor authentication for employee and customer accounts
  • Using secure passwords that contain random letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and symbols
  • Not reusing passwords
  • Monitoring government updates to learn about new data privacy rules or guidelines
  • Providing free cyber training for employees

One thing that can help keep your information safe is limiting who has access to what information. If an employee leaves your company (especially if they are fired), make sure to delete their accounts immediately. If you can’t delete an account, change the password right away.

How to Train Employees on Cybersecurity

You can’t expect your employees to be cybersecurity experts until you train them. Remember, your employees can make or break the customer experience, and the same is true when it comes to protecting customer data.

Training can help employees understand things such as:

  • What makes a password secure
  • How to use a VPN to secure their network
  • How to protect their data if using a public computer or Wi-Fi network (such as when working at a cafe)
  • How to use antivirus and antimalware software on desktops and smartphones
  • The most secure type of 2FA and how to use it
  • How to dispose of old computers and phones

Most importantly, team training can help employees work together to ensure the entire network is secure.

Where to Find Free Training For Employees

Let’s go over some of the best cybersecurity training for employees, including free government cybersecurity training. The following resources are all free.

  • ESET: ESET is an antivirus company that provides free on-demand employee training for cybersecurity. It covers all the basics and more. ESET recommends your employees complete the course once a year to refresh their memories. The free course takes only 60 minutes. The paid course provides real-time gamification and exercises to help employees put best practices into action.
  • FTC: The FTC provides several resources for small businesses concerned about private security. You can share those resources with your employees as well. In addition to the training materials, there are quizzes you can use to check if your employees truly understand what they learned.
  • HHS: On this page, you can find courses from the Department of Health and Human Services on cybersecurity essentials, cybersecurity awareness, and phishing.
  • NICCS: The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies provides an extensive catalog with more than 6,000 training courses for cybersecurity professionals. Courses are available online (self-paced and with an instructor) and in person. There are many advanced courses available.

Final Thoughts

Making sure your employees are fully aware of cybersecurity risks at all times is critical. You can’t neglect cybersecurity, even if your team is small and your company doesn’t have many customers.

Over time, as you grow, your cybersecurity risks will increase as well, which is why you need to build a solid foundation and implement strict guidelines that will protect you in the future.

Share with me how you fight against cyberattacks. Use #NoCyberattacks on  TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, or Instagram. 

About the Author, James Webster

James Webster, founder and CEO of ROK Financial has almost two decades of experience within the financial services industry. His passion for helping small business owners and his innovative way of thinking, has allowed him to run multiple successful businesses including National Business Capital & Services. Under the National name, the team was able to help secure over $1 Billion in financing for small businesses nationwide.