How employee education can help keep your business cyber safe

October 16, 2014 - Tags: E-business Managing

This guest blog post is provided by Public Safety Canada which leads Get Cyber Safe, a national public awareness campaign about Internet security and online safety.

Think you could spot a cyber threat if you saw one? You might be surprised. These days, cyber criminals are using far more complex techniques that look so legitimate they are hard to spot.

Most cyber attacks require some kind of human engagement, such as clicking a link or downloading a file. Educating employees on how to identify malicious activity is one of the best ways to defend against most cyber threats. Consider having lunch-and-learns, info sessions, or a short newsletter for employees on how to protect your business.  Here are some topics to get you started:

Online threats include email scams, phishing attacks, botnets, viruses, and trojans. Knowing where they come from and what they look like is the first step to keeping them at bay.

Phishing is when cyber criminals use fake emails, text messages, and websites to trick employees into giving up important information. Passwords, usernames, and credit card numbers can be taken, sold, and used. Criminals may even impersonate your business to try to scam your customers.

Employees should never respond to emails requesting private information, or click on links from unknown sources. Encourage them to be on the lookout for email scams where the message is alarmist, has spelling mistakes, offers a deal that's too good to be true, or requests sensitive information.

By taking the URLs of recognized sites and tweaking them slightly, cyber criminals can lure people to a website that can steal your sensitive information.

Teach employees to click smart. Signs that a URL is untrustworthy include hyphens, numbers, spelling mistakes and @ symbols in place of regular characters.

Encourage employees to manually type URLs in the address bar, rather than clicking on email links. This can help ensure they are going to a legitimate site and not a malicious or spoofed site.

Bottom line – tell employees to question anything that seems suspicious. If something seems weird, don't click on it.

If you own a small/medium business, join Canadian entrepreneurs for a Twitter chat on October 23, 12-1pm EDT. Follow along, ask questions or share your tips on how to stay cyber safe using #smepme.

Learn more about how to protect your family, your business and yourself at and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

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