10 Cyber Security Tips for Employees in 2024

We see so much news about using scary technical terms about massive hacks and threats that seem impossible to avoid. 

Cybersecurity news can feel totally overwhelming, and it’s easy to be tempted to tune it all out. But the truth is, it’s often not the super-advanced attacks that cause the most damage, it’s our everyday online habits that leave us (and our companies) vulnerable. 

So, let’s ditch the fear-mongering and focus on some easy, actionable steps you can take to protect yourself and your workplace.

Cybersecurity for Normal People

Cybersecurity for Normal People

Think cybersecurity is only for tech experts? Think again! A lot of staying safe online boils down to forming smart habits, and it’s way less overwhelming than you might think. We’ve boiled down the essentials into 10 easy-to-follow steps. No tech jargon, no fear-mongering, just practical tips that make a real difference in protecting yourself and your company.

You don’t need to memorize every detail right away. Bookmark this guide, or even print it out, and tackle one or two steps at a time. Start with the areas where you feel the least confident – maybe you’ve always hated dealing with passwords, or all those app updates are driving you nuts.

Each step builds on the next, and with a little effort, you’ll transform yourself from someone who feels like a potential target to someone hackers actively avoid. Think of it like your cybersecurity workout plan. A few minutes of “exercise” each week builds up serious protection over time. And hey, maybe you’ll even impress your friends with some of those scam-spotting tricks!

Ready to get started? Let’s dive into those 10 steps.

1. Never Reuse the Same Password on Multiple Accounts

We all know “password123” is the worst. But here’s what’s even scarier – reusing the same password across different websites and accounts. Why? Because when one of those random sites gets hacked (and it happens a lot), your info is out there for the taking. Attackers use tools that try those leaked passwords on everything:  your bank, your email, your medical records – you get the picture.

Think of it like leaving copies of your house key under different rocks around your neighborhood. Eventually, someone will find it.

Actionable Tip: A password manager is your new best friend. It securely stores all your unique passwords and can even generate strong ones for you. Yes, it’s one more thing to learn, but it’s massively worth it.

2. Spot Phishing Scams Before You Click

Imagine you get an email that looks 100% legit. It’s got the right logo, talks about your recent Amazon order, and says there’s a problem. You need to click the link and update your info ASAP! Except, it’s not really from Amazon. It’s a scam designed to trick you.

Modern phishing emails are crazy good at mimicking the real thing. So, here’s how to spot them:

  • Gut Feeling: If something feels off, it probably is. Scammers play on emotions like urgency (“Act NOW or your account will be deleted!”) or excitement (“You won a free iPad!”).
  • Hover Don’t Click: Look closely at links before you click. Hover your mouse over (don’t click!) and check if the website address is weird, even if it starts with the right name.
  • When in Doubt, Throw it Out: Not sure? Don’t risk it. Contact the company directly through their official website or phone number.

3. Your Phone Needs as Much Security as Your Computer

Think apps are harmless? Think again. Be careful what you download, especially “free” apps outside of the official app stores. Check app permissions before you hit install – does that flashlight app really need access to your contacts? Probably not.

Actionable Tip: Avoid downloading apps outside of the official app stores as they may bypass built-in control mechanisms on your phone. Always look at app permissions cautiously and don’t accept all of them willy-nilly.

4. Be Cautious on Social Media

Think social media is just for catching up with friends? Think again. Oversharing about your life might seem innocent, but scammers collect tidbits on social media to crack your passwords (think security questions!) or even impersonate you to trick the people you know.

We’ll cover privacy settings on the big platforms, why some info is never truly just for friends, and the risks of those “fun” personality quizzes that ask way too many personal questions.

Actionable Tip: Set a “3-click rule” for yourself. If you can’t find the privacy setting you want within 3 clicks, assume it’s overly complicated on purpose and be extra cautious.

5. Always Update Your Web Browser and Apps

It’s the digital equivalent of ignoring that weird rattle in your car…pushing “remind me later” on software updates sets you up for trouble. Updates patch security holes that hackers exploit. Yes, they can be annoying, but they’re way less annoying than getting hacked!

Updates are non-negotiable, even when they interrupt your workday. You can minimize the annoyance, however, by learning how to schedule software updates for less disruptive times.

Actionable Tip: Schedule updates for non-work hours (overnight, lunch breaks) so you’re less likely to postpone them.

6. Backing Up Data Is Critical

Ransomware, where criminals hold your files hostage, is a nightmare no one wants to experience. A backup is your escape plan. But what’s the cloud? Isn’t an external hard drive enough?

There are different ways to back up important data on the cloud, and there are pros and cons to each method. Take them into account so you can create a plan that fits your life.

Actionable Tip: Think “3-2-1”: 3 copies of your important data, on 2 different types of storage (like your computer and a cloud service), with 1 copy off-site (in case of fire, etc.).

7. Be Careful With Unkown USBs

That innocent-looking thumb drive on the ground could be a hacker’s jackpot. Plugging in unknown devices is like playing Russian roulette with your computer and your company’s network. Booby-trapped USBs get past unsuspecting employees and even the most tech-savvy folks can fall for this trick.

Actionable Tip: Turn in found USB drives to your IT department – they have tools to check them safely. Even better? Some companies reward this with small gift cards!

8. Spotting Online Scams Quickly

It’s not just those badly worded foreign lottery emails anymore. Scammers use social media tricks, build fake websites that look legit, and even create tempting “investment opportunities” to steal your money. There are red flags to watch for, and you can learn how to spot a phony deal online quickly. Sometimes a quick Google search can save you a whole lot of heartache.

Actionable Tip: Do a quick online search. Type in the company or offer name + the word “scam” and see what pops up. Often, others have already reported it.

9. Boost Your Company’s Cybersecurity

You don’t have to be a tech genius to boost your company’s cybersecurity. Knowing when to say, “Wait, this seems weird…” is just as important! 

We’ll reassure you that IT folks would rather answer a basic question than deal with a major breach and empower you to be the first line of defense by catching those phishing emails and suspicious glitches.

Actionable Tip: Designate a “weird tech stuff” buddy at work. Someone you can go to for a quick “does this look fishy?” opinion before bothering IT with minor things.

10. Security is a Team Sport

Cybercriminals love companies with lax security. When everyone follows basic cybersecurity practices, it makes you a much harder target. Each employee’s everyday choices (strong passwords, being cautious online) add up to big protection. Cybersecurity isn’t scary when everyone works together.

Actionable Tip: Ask your company to do a short cybersecurity “lunch and learn” session. Even 15 minutes of tips shared company-wide makes a difference.

The Bottom Line

We know, cybersecurity can feel overwhelming. But remember, most attacks aren’t targeting you specifically, they’re targeting the easy victims. By following the tips in this guide, you make yourself – and your company – a much tougher target.

This isn’t about being a tech wizard – it’s about building smart daily habits, just like locking your doors at night. Got a question we didn’t cover? Ask! Cybersecurity is something we all do together.

Thomas Ward

Thomas Ward

Thomas Ward brings over a decade of cloud, infrastructure, and reliability engineering experience to the forefront of Spyrus’s mission. His time at leading tech innovators like Microsoft, Oracle, and MongoDB has shaped his deep understanding of how attackers exploit weaknesses in cloud systems and how to proactively defend them. Thomas witnessed the rapid shift to cloud environments alongside an explosion of cyber threats. He founded Spyrus out of a conviction to help businesses navigate this complex landscape. He leverages his expertise to build tailored, proactive cybersecurity solutions that protect clients’ sensitive assets and ensure their systems stay up and running – no matter what.