Share National Internet Safety Month with every employee

June 12, 2012 by Michael Bruemmer

Internet safety isn’t just for the employees who handle your most sensitive data. It’s for each and every one. With June being National Internet Safety Month, it’s the perfect time to brush up on exactly what that means for your employees and business.

In a recent study, 78% of organizations had experienced at least one data breach due to the actions of a careless or malicious employee.1 It’s important to educate and empower your employees to do their part for data security, and that means being safe online.

Anyone who uses the Internet in your office needs to be mindful of Internet safety. Even if someone doesn’t handle sensitive data directly, his/her actions could infect your network with a virus that leads to data loss.

One of the obstacles to Internet safety is that cyber risk is so intangible it doesn’t seem like an immediate threat at all.  Cyber threats are oftentimes the opposite. A virus could slowly siphon data from your network for weeks, months or longer without anyone knowing.

Because cyber risk is often veiled, regular educational sessions with your employees are vital. Be sure they know and follow your Internet usage policy. Don’t have one in place? National Internet Safety Month is the perfect time to organize and implement your guidelines. You can find examples online to help shape your own policies.

Here are a few things to consider addressing:

Personal Internet Use
Blocking employees from logging in and using their personal accounts at work isn’t just an issue of lost productivity. It’s also a security issue. Links, videos and attachments online and in emails can contain unseen threats, such as a virus or malware that undermines the security of your data. That could include your employees’ own personal data. Be sure they understand that the precautions are for their benefit as well as for the stability of the business and their jobs. You can use the honor system for off-limit sites or use software that blocks unsecure and other URLs.

Software Downloads
Have your IT team handle all software downloads and ensure operating systems and software are updated regularly. Automatic updates implemented across the entire network at once help ensure there isn’t a weak link, an outdated computer, in your system. Again, you can use the honor system and ask employees not to install any software themselves or block them from doing so for added security. After all, accidents and human error do occur.

Email Dos and Don’ts
Some employees handle a hundred or more emails a day. Considering the high volume and the ease of communicating by email, mistakes are bound to occur. Sensitive data sent to the wrong email address could be detrimental for your business and customers. Be sure your employees understand what type of data is and isn’t permissible to send by email. And that they don’t open any attachments, click on any links or respond to any requests for sensitive data if the source is not verified.

As part of your Internet usage policy and National Internet Safety Month, impart on your staff the importance of not only being mindful and careful but also sounding the alarm when anything goes wrong. The sooner you know about threats to your network, the sooner you can protect your data and business.

1 The Human Factor in Data Protection, Ponemon Institute (2012)