User Education: Things Every Worker with a Computer Should Know

With the world of technology changing at an always increasing pace, there’s little question that companies need qualified engineers overseeing the security of their computer network. But, these days, it’s not enough for only a company’s IT support function, either insourced or outsourced, to know the dangers that lurk and ways to prevent a breach. Today, every employee who uses a computer must be well educated about the threats that exist, along with how to avoid falling victim to them.

Some sobering facts:

  • There are an increasing number of people today who actually make a living by stealing information or disrupting businesses via cyber-attacks.
  • It used to be that only large corporations were targeted by these criminals; statistics now show that increasing focus is being placed on medium to small businesses.
  • Malware threats and intrusions have increased dramatically in the last five years, from 125 million total malware viruses in 2010, to just under 500 million in 2015 (source:
  • These viruses are so intrusive, they can take down an entire company, completely halting production.

It’s clear, therefore, that every employee should know cyber-criminals’ tactics, so they can do their part to keep the network secure. Some top threats and best practices of which to be aware:

Watch out for “spoofed” emails. These emails are created by cyber-thugs and sent with a forged sender address and header, usually from a business any recipient would likely trust, such as Fed-Ex or iTunes. But, when the receiver clicks on the provided link to “track their package,” or to look at an unusual charge, they’ve just unknowingly unleased a virus. Instruct employs to NEVER open such an email, and especially NEVER click on a link, unless they are absolutely sure the email is legitimate. Cyber criminals are even getting so sophisticated that they can mimic routine requests appearing to come from people you know inside your business although the email address, if you look closely, usually is slightly modified. If anything does not feel right about these emails, contact the sender to make sure they sent it.

Be wary of emails with attachments from unknown senders. Opening an attachment from an unknown sender is never recommended. If the employee is not expecting an email from someone, the safest course of action is to not open it, and, especially, never open the attachment.

Think twice about Dropbox file links. In the same way, employees have been duped by opening a link in an email sent from this secure file-sharing and storage website. These emails appear to come from Dropbox, but they’re sent randomly to unsuspecting targets, and the link in the email will activate a virus if clicked. The employee should open only if they’re expecting the files or images.

Avoid shopping online with a work computer. Company policy aside, going on outside sites can open up that computer, and therefore the business’s computer network, to dangerous viruses. In the same way, visiting internet sites that allow people to, for instance, customize their cursor can lead to a security breach.

Don’t ignore what your computer is telling you. If an employee gets a pop-up notification regarding a virus, they should alert the tech team or MSP about it promptly to curtail any possible spread. Likewise, if the computer suddenly shows a new icon or is behaving unusually – running noticeably slower, or running random programs – the IT team needs to know as soon as possible.

Basic safety tips passed on to employees can save a business from a headache – both financially and operationally.