Opinion

5 ways agencies can promote cyber hygiene from within [Commentary]

With National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) happening this October, we must remind ourselves and others that no one is too cyber sophisticated.

Cyberattacks are on the rise. Everyone is susceptible to these attacks. Recent industries affected include education, healthcare, businesses and government.

The message is clear – staying safe and secure online is our shared responsibility. It is key for everyone, specifically federal employees, to take the appropriate steps to manage and mitigate the risks associated with what has been called the fastest-growing crime.

Here are five tips for how government agencies can promote cyber hygiene:

1. Invest in quality intrusion prevention and detection systems.

Antivirus is good for endpoint security, but network-based intrusion detection and prevention systems, better known as IDS/IPS, work comprehensively to protect applications and data. More data and applications flow over networks than individual machines, so network-based security should be at a greater concentration than endpoint security. Endpoint security is still important since a machine can infect the network. Enterprise security is like a good coffee blend comprised of multiple ingredients to accomplish the right risk mitigation profile.

2. Encourage Cybersecurity Best Practices

Government agencies can create cyber hygiene by encouraging and reminding employees to follow several cybersecurity strategies. Educate employees regarding the need to ensure internet browsers and their add-ons are secure, install security updates as soon as possible to combat potential threats, implement strict password policies to help deter hackers, and send reminders to employees to backup data in case of a potential scam. These simple steps will simplify and strengthen security without compromising productivity.

3. Implement and Execute an Employee Training Program

Every government agency should require all employees to complete a training program on cybersecurity. Despite the growing number of cyberattacks, many employees still think they know everything on the topic and do not take their company’s training seriously. To ensure they are paying attention and retaining information from these trainings, we suggest ending the program with a mandatory knowledge test. If employees do not receive a certain score, require them to complete the training again.

4. Review Security Practices Regularly

Cybersecurity is a very real problem. Stay ahead of evolving threats by reviewing your security measures regularly. Government agencies should embrace the digital era and challenge themselves and their employees to find innovative ways to keep hackers out of the digital space.

5. Empower the Modern Workforce

Besides government agencies providing its employees with the tools and resources to understand the impact of a cyberattack, it is important for them to create a workspace that empowers their individuals to collaborate, ask questions and share ideas. Fostering this environment will encourage employees to speak up and share ideas relating to cybersecurity.

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