The Role of Employee Education in Malware Defense: Tips for Training Your Team

Charlotte Miller

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Each year, it’s estimated that $4 billion is lost to cybercrime. While there are many different types of cybercrime out there, one of the most prevalent is malware. Malware is any type of software that negatively affects your security and privacy.

From viruses to ransomware, there are a lot of different types of malware. Unfortunately, these days cybercrime isn’t just targeting individuals; it’s targeting businesses too. Specifically, it does this through unsuspecting employees.

Many people think the key to malware defense is to buff up IT security infrastructures. While this can certainly help, it’s important to remember that employee education can be just as important.

But how do you go about training your team in malware defense? This guide will explore the answer to this question so you can start making your business safer today.

Why Is Malware Defense Important for Your Employees?

When most people think about malware cybercrime, they tend to picture a hacker furiously typing away at their computer. However, the reality is that this is rarely the case.

Active attacks are fairly uncommon in the cybercrime world. What is common is human error. Cybercriminals will lay traps for unsuspecting individuals and employees.

One common misconception is that you have to be uneducated or gullible to be a victim of these attacks. This simply isn’t true. Malware has gotten particularly advanced in recent years.

All it takes is one small decision to completely expose your network to a criminal. For businesses, this human error weakness can pose a problem. Large companies often have hundreds, if not thousands, of employees.

And all it takes is one weak link to lead to data breaches, network access, and money loss. Proper employee education is the best defense against malware.

If your employees know the tell-tale signs of potential viruses or ransomware attacks, they’ll be much less likely to click on it or give it information.

How to Provide Employee Education

It’s not enough to just sit your employees down in front of a quick PowerPoint. To be comprehensive, you need to provide multiple areas of training.

You also need to bake cybersecurity into your company culture through strict policies. In this section, we’ll be going over some tips on how to educate your employees on the potential threats of malware.

Develop a Cybersecurity Policy

You can’t expect your employees to follow your cybersecurity rules if you don’t have them in the first place. So the first thing you should do as a company is lay out a strict cybersecurity policy.

To make this easy on your employees, we recommend compiling it into a guidebook. Your policies should cover broad-stroke cybersecurity measures but also specific areas like device rules.

Make sure you don’t just stop at dispersing guidebooks. Discuss the new cybersecurity policy with your employees. This ensures that they’re aware of it. It also allows you to answer any questions they might have.

Hire a Cybersecurity Specialist

Unless you have a background in IT or cybersecurity, you likely have some blindspots when it comes to this area. Instead of learning everything that you can, consider hiring a cybersecurity specialist.

For starters, these individuals can update your overall security while implementing best practices in your company. However, more importantly, they can properly educate your employees on what you should and shouldn’t do.

One way they can do this is with a cybersecurity certificate program. This interactive courage takes forty weeks to complete. At the end of it, all your employees will be experts in the realm of cybersecurity.

Alternatively, you can do less intensive forms of education from these specialists.

However, keep in mind that if they’re just lecturing your employees there’s a good chance some of them will tune it out. As such, we tend to recommend more active forms of education.

Stress the Importance of Device Care

Improper use of company devices is one of the leading causes of cyber attacks. Often this might mean using company phones or computers to access sketchy sites for personal use.

Or, if they lose a company’s device, it can fall into the wrong hands. As such, you should make sure that you include corporate device policies in your company’s cybersecurity framework.

If it continues to be a problem, you might need to implement more strict measures. This can include monitoring devices, adding web filters, and restricting certain types of installations.

Know What Constitutes Suspicious Activity

There are many telltale signs of potentially suspicious malware activity. Some of your employees are likely to encounter include:

  • New apps or programs appearing that weren’t previously on the device
  • Random pop-ups
  • A device unexpectedly slows down
  • Random extensions and tabs appearing on your browser
  • Phishing emails announcing account breaches or unexpected withdrawals
  • Sudden loss of control of your mouse and keyboard

When a cyber attack occurs, time is of the essence. The sooner your employees can identify that they’re being targeted, the sooner your security can respond.

As such, you should make sure that they’re familiar with all of these potential signs.

Regularly Change Passwords

Many people often use a universal password for every single login. This is particularly dangerous because if a hacker gets access to it, they can log in to every single account.

That’s why you need to make sure that your employees are using a variety of different passwords for different accounts. Ideally, they’ll also be changing these passwords every few months.

It can be smart to set a strict policy in regard to this password change. In addition to password changes, you should also consider implementing multi-factor authentication and VPN use into your security infrastructure. That way all company data remains confidential.

Appreciate Learning About Cybersecurity? Keep Exploring

We hope this guide helped you learn more about how employee education can help with your malware defense. As you can see, proper education helps take out some of the human error that causes data breaches and other forms of cybercrime.

So the sooner you can invest in it, the more secure your operations will be. Want more tech content? We have plenty of similar topics on our website so keep exploring to find them all.