Are your employees shopping online at work? If you're not sure, we have the answer for you: It's a resounding yes.
Employees love to shop, according to research from CareerBuilder, and they love to purchase products and services right from the comfort of their own offices.
CareerBuilder's annual Cyber Monday survey of over 5,000 workers (full-time employees and hiring managers) revealed that just over 50 percent of employees will spend some time shopping online at work during the holidays. That's an increase of 3 percent over last year.
Of course, just because employees are shopping doesn't mean employers aren't bothered by it. After all, the loss of productivity hurts their bottom lines and the presence of lurking hackers certainly gives (or should give) them pause. Cyber security risks are serious threats that can cost companies thousands, if not millions, of dollars each year.
The survey found that 33 percent of employers cared if their employees visited websites and engaged in activities that weren't work related, and 24 percent said they'd release an employee if they found him or her conducting non-work related activities online.
So what can employers do to protect themselves and their employees from cyber security dangers?
Cassandra Pratt, director of HR and recruiting for Progyny, a fertility company based in New York City, during an interview with SHRM Online, said a best-practice solution is for employers to educate their workers about Cyber Monday shopping during work hours.
"The best way to manage employees who will be shopping online on Cyber Monday is to educate them and give them parameters during the workday," said Pratt.
Now, of course, Cyber Monday is long gone, but the same principle applies throughout the year. Employers who take the time to properly keep their employees up to snuff on the latest cyber security trends and office protocols will keep their financial and personal data better protected.
Trend Micro also offered a number of other suggestions to keep employers and employees safe. Some of these include:
- Instructing employees to change their passwords on all of their web accounts and making sure all passwords are at least 10 characters in length.
- Don't get trapped by phishing scams.
- Always check and update social media privacy settings, although we could take this a step further and say that employees should check all of their network settings.
- Use an advanced "super security software" for computers and mobile devices. This system should update and upgrade itself regularly to provide more than any old antivirus system offers.
- Don't leave computers unattended. Breaches from insiders is a serious threat. A Trend Micro survey of Japanese IT professionals found that 20 percent said breaches occurred from the inside. While 20 percent may not seem like much, even 1 percent could cost a company thousands of dollars' worth of lost data.
- Leave personal devices at home. These devices may not contain updated antivirus software and therefore a hacker may have an easier time breaching them.
Another way to keep your employees safe is to just instruct them not to shop online at all. While this may seem a bit harsh, hosting a presentation that explains the pitfalls and repercussions of a network breach, including loss of critical data and sometimes irreversible reputation damage, could be enough to convince employees to shop on their own time.
While the holidays tend to be when people are most at risk, breaches can happen at any time. Following these simple steps outlined by third-party security experts and those at Trend Micro can help keep companies and their employees safe from cybercriminals.