Home Employees can be Your Greatest Defense Against Security Threats

Employees can be Your Greatest Defense Against Security Threats

Employees can be your greatest defense against security threats. These security threats abound because it is our nature to trust many different people with sensitive information. A security threat even has a loophole into our employee logins. There will always be human error, which is something companies must take into account when strategizing security. All business security studies will tell you that your employees are your biggest security weakness. But businesses and companies should also observe that your employees can be your greatest defense against security threats.

Educate your employees about the nature of security threats — so they can be a line of defense.

Help your employees be your most important defense against security threats. They are often your greatest asset when it comes to protecting your company’s vital information and avoiding breaches. What issues can you teach your employees about?

  •  Falling victim to phishing emails.
  • Careless management of sensitive data.
  • Losing physical equipment with company information.
  • Sensitive information.
  • Digital identities.
  • Trusting too much.
  • Employee logins.
  • Human error.
  • Employees must help you strategize for security.
  • What is the vital information?
  • Device security.

Educate your employees about phishing attacks as security threats.

It’s common knowledge at this point, but best practices for security involve training your employees to recognize phishing emails and report them. It’s also a good idea for your IT department to send out a false phishing email to reinforce how easy it is to get tricked (although doing this more than once doesn’t tend to increase its effectiveness).

Falling victim to a phishing attack is surprisingly easy. Shaming or punishing employees who might not be able to immediately recognize these tactics is counterproductive. Instead, institute mandatory education sessions, and let employees know what they should and shouldn’t expect from their company email. For example, they should know that no one in the company will email them asking for their password or payment information and that they should type in web addresses into their browsers, rather than clicking on in-email links.

Instill good password habits to limit security threats in your employees.

Many larger companies are transitioning to SSO for security purposes, which is a powerful tool. But not all sites are compatible with SSO, and it can leave gaps in security during implementation. That’s where a password manager comes in.

A password manager can improve your company’s security immediately upon rollout. It’s a simple solution to the problem of sharing passwords: Remember one password, share passwords securely among teams, and make sure that people who don’t need access to passwords don’t have it.

One of the biggest strengths of a password manager is that it can teach your employees that having good password habits can be just as simple as having terrible ones. A good password manager will integrate seamlessly into your employees’ work-life, making it easier to do their jobs well.

The issue, though, is that instilling good password habits at work often isn’t enough to fully protect your company. If employees want to find workarounds for password managers, they can and will. That’s why we think it’s a good idea to give employees free personal password management as well. Free personal password management encourages them to implement a password manager across their personal and professional lives. It’s also why all 1Password Business accounts come with free family accounts for any individual at the organization.

Make sure your employees know they are valued.

We all know our employees are valuable; after all, our companies wouldn’t function without them. But do they feel valued? That’s an important distinction. Employees that are invested in your company, and that feel trusted, will be quicker to protect your business. They will recognize you are invested in them and will, in turn, invest in you and take security more seriously.

Frankly, it is very hard to fake authentic care. You are going to have to actually feel something for your employees — and you both deserve this effort. Employees can tell when companies are genuinely invested in them versus just trying to make them feel that way.  To make people feel valued is one of the most security-conscious strategies you can do for your company. It is a strategy that starts at the ground up — and is fundamental to the way you run your company and treat your employees.

If you’re not sure about how your employees feel, consider asking for feedback or bringing in an outside firm to run a focus group (employees may be reluctant to be honest if they fear reprisals for their comments). Take their comments seriously and implement policies to improve employee satisfaction.

The bottom line is that when employees are happy, are valued and feel valued, and are invested in your company’s success; they will become your front line of defense for security threats. It’s time to stop seeing employees as security threats and instead treat them like the strengths that they are.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Matt Davey
COO (Chief Operations Optimist)

Matt Davey is the COO (Chief Operations Optimist) at 1Password, a password manager that keeps families and businesses safe online. Using a background of product design, he oversees marketing, content, design and press, as well as being a regular host on the company's security advice podcast, Random but Memorable.

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