Cyberattacks are increasingly targeting small- and medium-sized businesses.
The average cost of an attack for a small business starts at $200,000. And one study found that attacks were almost constant, occurring every 39 seconds across all internet users.
With that in mind, a cyber security assessment checklist can be one of the best investments your business makes. It can protect you from monetary and reputational damages.
Don’t leave your business vulnerable a moment longer: see our threat assessment checklist for cyber security and determine what steps you need to take to be secure.
Cyber Security Assessment Checklist: How to Prevent a Massive and Costly Data Breach
Hackers are determined and will continuously probe your network for weaknesses. Even a single vulnerability can lead to a costly data breach.
How costly? Approximately 60% of small businesses will close following a breach, according to Experian.
This cyber security risk assessment checklist and the actions that you take afterward, then, can be one of the smartest and most vital business decisions you’ll make.
Comprehensive Cyber Security Risk Assessment Checklist
1. Does your business have a business continuity and disaster recovery plan?
Is your business ready to respond to a data breach?
Risk management is about prevention and reaction
Business continuity and backups are critical and will ensure your business is secure in the event of a data breach. This will minimize downtime while also preventing catastrophic data loss.
Your plan needs to be tested and have the security infrastructure in place to support it.
With an increasing amount of businesses relying on customer data to remain operational, having a backup can save you from that worst-case scenario of complete data loss in the event of a breach.
2. Does your business perform routine security assessments?
Cybersecurity risk is evolving and changing. So cybersecurity planning can’t be a set-and-forget process.
Instead, you’ll need to routinely reassess your cybersecurity systems and ensure they are capable of meeting evolving threats. The security assessment should evaluate:
- Access control
- End-user awareness and training
- Configuration management
- Incident response protocols
- Maintenance protocols
An expert cyber security team will be able to quickly and comprehensively assess and define vulnerabilities in your current setup.
3. Does your business have an information security policy?
The majority of your business vulnerabilities come from your employees and end-users. To mitigate this risk, it’s essential to have an information security policy and training that covers:
- Phishing awareness
- Safe internet usage practices
- Appropriate password development
- Data handling practices
- Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) best practices
- And more
If changes are made to your cybersecurity practices, your staff should be informed accordingly and provided with training that covers these updates. Your security policy should also be updated 1- 2 a year with corresponding employee security training.
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4. Have your employees demonstrated that they are complying with your best practices and policies?
End-users need to be reminded and educated on best practices and cybersecurity policies, but they also need to demonstrate that they have a thorough understanding of what these policies mean and how they’re to be executed.
Much like working through a cyber security assessment checklist, your end-users need to also be tested and run through a checklist to ensure their complete compliance with your security framework.
5. Does your management team participate in security initiatives and directives?
Security policies only go so far if they’re not proposed, directed, and followed by management and leadership.
In other words, don’t let executives off the hook. They can benefit from cybersecurity training as much as the average employee can, if not more so.
6. Does your business network maintain 24/7/365 routine monitoring for security threats?
Network monitoring is essential for uptime, performance, and patching, and real-time security.
Monitoring will help to ensure that your environment is protected at all times.
A security operations center (SOC) observes your network 24/7/365 for any signs of inappropriate activity, allowing you to proactively neutralize common IT problems before they evolve into greater issues.
7. Does your business understand the potential impact of breaches?
No cybersecurity system is perfect. You’ll want to do your best to prevent breaches, but you’ll need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Understanding how much your business stands to lose as a result of downtime, which data points are vulnerable, and other important aspects of a breach will help you plan for this eventuality and be prepared for it.
This knowledge leads to significantly reduced potential harm in the event of a breach.
To be prepared for an event and the potential damages, analysis, and audit will have to be connected. All events have to be considered:
- Data breach
- Distributed Denial of Service
- And more.
The severity and cost of these breaches change depending on your industry and the nature of your business.
8. Does your business regularly update its network with patches?
As networks go without updates, the number of exploits that hackers can use to breach them grows.
All systems that run software such as operating systems, applications, firewalls, hardware, etc. require patching so they can maintain optimal security.
9. Does your business deploy next-gen firewalls?
Firewall technology has evolved over the years. Next-gen firewalls are much improved at providing:
- Intrusion detection
- Deep-packet inspection
- Cloud-based threat intelligence
- Application control
- And more
In other words, the more advanced the firewall tech, the safer your business will be.
10. Does your business deploy a Nextgen antivirus solution and DNS level of security protection?
Your company may still have signature-based antivirus software that does not detect zero-day threats. But when you leverage custom-built virus and malware options, you can rectify these older antivirus insufficiencies.
Next-gen antivirus strengthens your cybersecurity efforts with:
- AI application inspection
- Scrip management to prevent unauthorized access
- Device control
- And more
The AI also rids you of legacy issues with older antivirus software, like needing to constantly download new signature files.
With DNS protection, you’ll be able to stop command and control attempts from hackers, control DNS and IP layer redirections, and provide an intelligent proxy service to steer users away from risky domains.
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11. Does your business have a comprehensive password protection policy and is it being followed?
Many businesses think they have proper password protections in place. However, the fact is that they often overestimate just how strong their passwords are.
For maximum security, your business should employ a minimum password length alongside special character requirements in addition to mandatory resets. Many businesses will choose to rely on a password manager for this purpose.
12. Does your business deploy multi-factor authentication?
Speaking of passwords, multi-factor authentication is a simple way to eliminate 99% of password-based breaches. Easy to use, MFA can almost guarantee that passwords are cut off as a source of attack for hackers.
13. Does your business perform routine penetration tests and vulnerability scans?
To ensure that your cybersecurity system is operating at full efficiency, you’ll need to deploy real-world penetration tests of your systems. These should be routine and overseen by a trained security expert, who then provides and explains reports.
14. How does your business manage and handle confidential documents?
Does your industry have specific compliance requirements for confidential documents (HIPAA, for instance)? If so, you need to ensure that your IT cybersecurity meets those standards.
But even if you don’t have compliances relating to sensitive information, it’s now a given that clients expect their data to be protected when in your hands. If the data is lost, it can result in disgruntled clients in addition to reputational damage.
15. Does your business set security standards for third-party vendors and anyone you interact with?
Vulnerabilities to your network don’t only exist in your business. Vendors and third parties that you interact with may at one point or another gain access to your network.
If they don’t follow your cybersecurity protocols or meet your standards, you are leaving your business open to threats.
16. Does your team have the necessary cyber security expertise to deploy resources?
While some businesses choose to rely on an IT administrator to manage their entire environment, the simple fact is that it takes a team of highly skilled professionals to ensure total online protection.
They bring the expertise, resources, and awareness to guarantee cybersecurity protection is in place. What’s more, they have one job: protecting your business from online threats.
Rather than have your IT administrator pulled in all different directions, leaving your defenses lax, get top-tier security solutions from a proven provider.
You’ve Completed the Threat Assessment Checklist for Cyber Security – What’s Next?
The above threat assessment checklist for cyber security is just a start to getting your network protected.
You will now need to leverage this cyber security assessment checklist into proactive steps that will help to keep your business safe from online threats. This audit will likely identify areas of need in your business that, if left unaddressed, can lead to security vulnerabilities.
Our managed IT services company is an industry leader in cybersecurity that can help you identify and address any gaps discovered using this cybersecurity checklist. Get in touch to give your business the protection it needs.