When it comes to protecting your company's information, security needs to start at the top.

According to this recent CIO article, senior executives are top targets of malicious hackers, in part because they are more likely to hold valuable information—or have a high level of access to it.

That’s why it's important for top executives to follow the strictest data protection standards and use appropriate security technologies whenever possible, including when they travel.

Here are some guidelines to protect executives from being the entry point into a major security breach.

Make it clear to executives that they will be targets

Most business leaders don't want to worry about the possibility of being the next target for a cyber attack, but they should. 

To address that, organizations should ensure that technological controls are in place rather than expecting executives to operate in a secure manner.

Take threats seriously—and educate executives

Phishing attacks—and more recently ransomware—are common ways to get executives to provide critical information hackers seek. 

Senior executives must understand the severity of these kinds of attacks to help prevent incidents.

Social media also poses another threat, as hackers use public information on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and other sites to build profiles of targets.

Make secure use of email a priority

Email is one of the most common sources of attacks against all employees, not just company leaders.

Use endpoint protection to strip out malware attachments and make it a policy that any email seeking critical information be verified with the sender either face-to-face or via phone.

Also, test staff several times a year to make sure they're following protocol.

Protections when executives travel on business

Cyberattack threat can be especially high when traveling overseas.

Organizations should have check-out/check-in procedures and security guidelines for electronic devices and media that leave the organization's home country.

Any data that they need access to remotely should be made available over a secure channel, such as a secure remote desktop or virtual private network, or stored on a hardware-encrypted USB drive where encryption cannot be disabled.

And also be aware of security issues surrounding the use of public Wi-Fi networks. 

Bolster IT infrastructure security

Having a strong security program in the first place will help reduce or avoid damage from cybersecurity attacks against individuals and it's a critical component of protecting against data breaches aimed at executives.

It also enables the discovery of unpatched systems that allow technical vulnerabilities to be exploited, poorly secured systems that can be discovered using scanning tools, inadequately protected wireless network routers that can be accessed by attackers, and systems for disposal of information that can be easily stolen or copied.

Don't forget about training

All employees, including executives, should participate in security awareness training regularly.

They should also have their assigned workstations, laptops, and mobile devices updated and patched regularly.