Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are increasingly becoming targets for cyberattacks due to their valuable data and often limited cybersecurity resources. To mitigate these risks, annual cybersecurity practices are essential. So, as we near the end of 2023, here’s a cyber security checklist of annual activities that can greatly increase your defense posture.
- Annual Security Audit: you should conduct an annual security audit to evaluate the effectiveness of your cybersecurity measures. This process involves a comprehensive review of your IT infrastructure, policies, and procedures. It should assess vulnerabilities, potential threats, and compliance with relevant regulations. The audit helps identify weak points in the security posture and guides strategic improvements. For example, do you review & update all your IT and security policies and procedures. Do you have a shared location where all these documents are stored? What is your approval process for the creation and maintenance of these documents?
- Annual Penetration Test: Penetration testing, or pen testing, simulates cyberattacks to uncover system weaknesses before malicious actors exploit them. You should perform this test annually to understand your network’s susceptibility to real-world threats. Professional ethical hackers attempt to breach the system, and their findings are used to bolster security measures.
- Data Backup and Recovery Plan: SMBs should maintain a robust data backup and recovery plan. Data breaches and ransomware attacks are increasingly common, and having a solid backup strategy ensures business continuity. Moreover, practicing your recovery scenarios is essential at least once a year, if not more often. For example, practice failing over to your backup system. How long does it take? Can you then fail-back to your primary system? Can you successfully restore from your tertiary backup?
- Review Patch Management process and effectiveness: Keeping software and hardware up to date is crucial. Regularly applying security patches and updates helps plug known vulnerabilities. Annual audits can highlight areas where patch management needs improvement. When will your systems enter End-of-Life and have they been scheduled for upgrade or replacement?
- Employee Training: Security is only as strong as the weakest link. Regular training and awareness programs for employees can significantly reduce risks associated with social engineering and human error. At least annually you should review your training plan and confirm that all your staff have successfully completed all required training.
- Incident Response Plan and Practice: At least once a year you should review and conduct a dry run of your cyber security incident response plan. If your organization suffers a breach, it’s imperative that each member of the response team understands his/her role & responsibilities. For example, who has the authority to shut down your main server? An annual “table-top” exercise will ingrain the process for each team member, which in turn greatly increases your effectiveness if you do suffer an attack.
- Review & renew your cyber insurance policy: With the increasing sophistication of cyber hackers, the type and breadth of cyber insurance coverage you need for your business will constantly evolve. We recommend at least an annual checkup with your cyber insurance broker to understand new requirements and what new protections are now available.
In summary, small and medium-sized businesses must adopt an annual cybersecurity regimen that includes annual security audits, penetration testing and incident response practice. These practices, coupled with patch management, employee training, and data backup, form a comprehensive approach to defending against an ever-evolving threat landscape. By prioritizing these measures coupled with annual reviews, you can safeguard your sensitive information and maintain your operations’ integrity.
Of course, LogicalNet stands ready to review and improve your security posture. Please click here to schedule your annual security health check with us. We can also recommend a cyber insurance broker or provide information that will help you complete an insurance application.