Solidifying Effective Cybersecurity Practices for eLearning Training, by Jori Hamilton
A lot has changed since the arrival of COVID-19, especially in the business and learning arenas. A lot of shopping and training used to be done in person, but a major shift has left many companies and schools turning to online learning and remote workers. However, moving your systems online is only one part of the equation. You also have to protect your devices and data from cybercriminals. Many organizations have dropped the ball in this regard, and hackers are ready to pounce.
If your company does online training for a large remote team, cybersecurity is more important than you may realize. The beauty of having a remote workforce is that your employees can work from anywhere, but the situation also creates a vulnerability as it’s hard to manage every team member and ensure that they are working with security in mind. To assist, we have some tips on common scams and how to protect your systems so your training goes off without a hitch.
A Proactive Approach
The best way to protect your systems and your employees is by taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity. Set yourself up for success at the forefront, so you don’t have to worry as much about digital threats as you go forward. For instance, before you install any new software or Learning Management Systems, you should first have it vetted by your IT team to ensure that the program is legitimate and doesn’t pose a threat. Once you have the go-ahead, set it up or send it out to your employees.
It is also a smart idea to add some cybersecurity training at the beginning of any new session so employees know what to watch out for going forward. Make this a mandatory part of your training and use it to get the class up to speed on current threats, basic security measures, and where to report if they see anything suspicious. As the class organizer, make it a point to update this training as time goes on because online threats are constantly evolving.
If the idea of cybersecurity is too daunting or you just do not have the time to give it the focus it deserves, you can do as many companies have done in the past and turn to a cloud computing solution. The cloud is ideal for online learning because it allows you to put all software and training materials on an online database so your employees can access it 24/7.
Even better is the fact that most cloud systems have cybersecurity protections built into the servers, and they often back up your data for you. This is a smart way to go if you have employees around the country that you want to meet with and instruct at a moment’s notice.
When you are training your employees on cybersecurity, it is essential that you inform them of common scams that they may encounter during their work. This is important because a hacker only needs to gain access to one computer in a network to affect all the rest. So if one employee is not careful on their personal computer, they could lead a hacker into the corporate database where they will be able to access all of your corporate files and the identities of all of your employees.
Your team may not realize how easy it can be for a hacker to make his or her way into their system. It can be as simple as a hacker leaving a USB drive in a public area or near your place of business. Out of curiosity, the employee picks it up and plugs it into their computer, and malware is automatically uploaded into their system.
One of the most common types of attacks is the phishing scam, which is a malicious email sent to the victim with the intention of causing panic so the recipient will react without thinking. These emails will include a link or an attachment along with an urgent message that typically appears to be from a figure of authority, like their boss, bank, or even the IRS. When the link or attachment is clicked, it gives the hacker almost instant access to your systems, and from there, they can cause havoc.
Studies show that phishing is the third most common type of scam in the country, and because they can be so easy to fall for, you need to warn your employees of the common signs. Which may include:
- An email that appears to be from an authority figure, but the email address is from a common service like Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail.
- Many misspellings in the subject line and email message (the hacker’s way of trying to bypass the internet security protocols).
- An official-looking email but instead of being addressed to you, it is to “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.”
- An email from a financial institution that includes a link or attachment you were not expecting. If you are suspicious, contact the institution directly to see if the message was legitimate.
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Protections for You and Your Employees
Even if you know about the typical scams, it is still important that you employ the proper software and protections on your system and require your employees to do the same. For instance, an antivirus program is essential for every computer and device that is connected to your network. Scans should be run at least once per week, and the software should be updated whenever a new version is available to protect you from the newest scams and hacker tactics. A firewall should also be activated, which will protect your system against unwanted digital threats.
Password protection is also incredibly important. Passwords should be difficult to guess and include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Your institution should also look into two-factor authentication, which requires an additional input like a fingerprint scan that is unique to that specific individual, so it cannot be easily duplicated. If an employee ever leaves the organization, their password should be deleted and their access blocked.
One of the perks of eLearning is the ability to do it from anywhere, which is both a blessing and a curse. While you have more freedom, working from public places also creates its fair share of threats, including man-in-the-middle attacks, which are fake Wi-Fi accounts set up in restaurants and coffee shops. The victim is drawn to the idea of free internet, but when they connect, they are really connecting directly to the hacker’s system. To prevent this issue, anyone working out of the home should have a virtual private network (VPN) enabled on their device, which will encrypt employee data so it cannot be used if stolen.
Cybercrime is an unfortunate side effect of our newly remote world, but it is an issue that cannot be ignored. By being proactive and training your employees, your company can remain secure and protected.
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About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity, marketing strategies, employee training and engagement, and web development. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter.
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