Take a moment to survey your office and the people sitting behind its computers; or, if you have a remote workforce, picture your employees in their home offices or on the road, all within arm’s reach of a laptop or mobile device. These individuals play a vital role in protecting your company from a security breach.

You can install all of the latest and greatest security innovations, but if your employees aren’t properly using the technologies provided, as well as adhering to safe computing practices, your business could be at risk. It’s up to you to make employees your “security knights in shining armor.”

To ensure that your team is ready to defend your business, encourage employees to take the following three actions: 

Use the most updated, secure Internet browser available.

Mitigate the risk of a security breach by requiring employees to use only pre-approved browsers. There are many Internet browsers to choose from, and a good rule of thumb is first to select one that integrates with your operating system. Always opt for the latest version, which contains the most updated features that counter new security threats. An easy way to ensure all employees use the same and most secure, Internet browser is to leverage a cloud service that automatically deploys the browser of your choice to employee devices and manages any security updates. It can be administered by you or the IT staff and comes with the added benefit of malware protection.

Use wireless Internet connections responsibly.

Wireless Internet connections are a remote worker’s best friend. However, public wireless hotspots also are notorious access points for cybercriminals, since they are open networks that do not encrypt data, emails, passwords or any other information transmitted across them. If employees have the choice between a secure wireless connection, which will require a password, and a public hotspot, they always should choose the secure connection.  Since secure wireless connections will not always be available employees should know how to make sure their firewall is on, how to disable file and printer sharing and how to make folders private. These tasks can be managed through your computer’s System Preferences or Control Panel, where security and Internet settings are available to review and adjust. Advice on how to manage these tasks can be found in your PC’s help and support index.  Another way to safeguard data is by saving business files on a corporate network share or in the cloud. There are numerous affordable cloud storage options for small businesses.

Learn from those in the know.

The more you show your employees security best practices, the more seriously your workers will take their roles in bolstering the security of your business. Consider hosting regular “lunch-and-learn” sessions where local technology service partners share news and insights related to the cybersecurity landscape and a little behind-the-scenes information on steps they take to protect corporate data. Other helpful resources include the FCC’s Small Biz Cyber Planner, which helps you build out a complete policy for safeguarding your business and educating employees.

To keep employees engaged about cybersecurity, devise new ways to make the sessions interesting. For example, try running contests that reward employees who recall important information from previous sessions or report suspicious activities. Remember, your employees are one of your biggest assets when it comes to keeping your business and your data safe.

About the Author(s)

Cindy Bates

Cindy Bates is the vice president of the U.S. Small- and Mid-Sized Business (SMB) Organization at Microsoft. Cindy and her team serve millions of SMB's in the U.S., helping them start, grow and thrive by utilizing today’s powerful and affordable technologies.

Vice President, Microsoft SMB
Computer Security