Protecting Employees from Cybersecurity Threats

employees in masks collaborating around a computer

It is a fact that the majority of corporate data breaches come from inside an organization. Why? It’s because insiders have knowledge of how to get around security systems, and often they are not even aware that they are doing anything wrong or that they aren’t protecting the company. Often, sophisticated phishing attempts cause employees to let hackers in unintentionally. We know that the best way for organizations to protect themselves against these threats is by educating employees on cybersecurity risks and their potential repercussions so that they can take appropriate preventive measures. But, with an increase of personal cyber-attacks in recent years, how can employers also help employees protect themselves personally against cyber risk? Or is there a responsibility? Let’s explore why this could be something that starts to be more common in the years to come.

Every business and every person is at risk of a cyber-attack or identity theft at some point in their lifetime. Business owners often know the risks for their business and the implications of those risks should their company become a victim. But also, this risk exists at an individual level too. Hackers are becoming increasingly clever in how they attack and just how detrimental it can actually be. Just last month, Wired.com shared how a fake movie streaming site devised a complex and intricate front to lure customers in to place malware on their machines, no movie watching involved. Another heartbreaking example was from a couple in Kansas City who inadvertently wired their full $40,000 down payment intended for their new home to hackers instead of the correct title company and likely won’t be able to recoup that money. There are countless examples of individuals falling prey to cyber predators ready to take their money. More examples to watch out for can be found on the FTC website and they are abundant. 

So, if there is a risk to an individual’s personal financial security, does an employer have a desire or even responsibility to help by protecting employees from cybersecurity threats? This is the question we are arguing today that could become a more prominent topic in the months and years to come. Employers pay for some or all of employees’ health insurance coverage, protecting them against falling ill or an injury where medical bills could disrupt their financial future. Health insurance provides encouragement to visit doctors for well-checks and preventive care, giving employees a better chance at a long, stable life. Many employers provide financial benefits such as a contribution to a 401k or investment education surrounding how to make their contributions work for them. These programs are meant to be beneficial to employees to help ensure a healthy and secure future. 

But, we would argue that cyber protection falls in this same vein. With cyber risk being high, employers could also provide benefits that would help employees protect their assets from these risks. Envision what that could look like for employers. Similar to providing education on cybersecurity for the business, training, and education could be delivered that protects an individuals’ assets too. For example, when creating work passwords that are complex, an individual should also do the same for their personal accounts. Education surrounding multi-factor authentication or how to secure a home router could be excellent buffers in helping employees manage their home digital assets.  In addition to education (and more education), other benefits that could be included in a Cybersecurity Benefits Package might be to provide employee discounts on anti-virus software or password vaults. The benefits package could include options for small cybersecurity insurance policies, similar to health or life insurance. Or, potentially the employer could provide resources for when an employee believes they have been compromised. 

There are many options to consider when determining which benefits make the most sense for a specific organization but keep in mind that the benefits of protecting employees from cybersecurity threats can never be a bad investment. Thinking of employees’ well-being and holistic health is an investment that will be paid off with employee loyalty, commitment, and dedication.

With the number of cyber-attacks rising, it’s more important than ever for employers to consider providing employees protection against personal cyber risks as well as protecting the organization. Businesses provide employee health insurance, 401k contributions protecting employees’ financial assets, and many other benefits – yet many employers haven’t yet recognized their responsibility to protect employees from digital threats. While employers aren’t required to provide any of these benefits, companies that take a genuine interest in their employees’ comprehensive well-being could help those employers stand apart.

What do you think about this as a new benefit from employers? Would you ever consider providing these benefits?

Author avatar
Adam Jones