Cyber security audit checklist for small businesses

18 April 2024 by
Daniel Sparkman
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In an era where digital assets form the backbone of most small businesses, the importance of cyber security cannot be overstated. From safeguarding sensitive customer data to ensuring business continuity in the face of threats, a robust cyber security strategy is not just a protective measure – it is a cornerstone of trust and reliability.

This cyber security audit checklist is designed to navigate small business owners through the critical layers of cyber security, from foundational protective measures to advanced threat detection and response. By understanding and implementing these practices, businesses can defend against the myriad of cyber threats and foster a culture of security awareness and compliance.  

Foundational security measures

These essential practices form the basis of your digital protection and act as your first line of defence.

  • Anti-virus and anti-malware software (EDR): They help detect and neutralise malicious programs that steal information or disrupt your operations. 
  • Software updates: Keeping your applications, operating systems, and security programs up-to-date is critical to defending against known vulnerabilities. 
  • Passwords and authentication: Use of strong password policies and enabling multi-factor authentication safeguards against unauthorised access. 
  • Risk assessment: Have you ever done a cyber security evaluation for your business? Understanding your digital assets and their vulnerabilities is the first step to protecting them. 
Network and data protection

These measures offer additional protection to secure your information systems from unauthorised access. 

  • Firewalls, VPNs, WIFI security: These act as gatekeepers, helping you to filter incoming and outgoing data to minimise vulnerabilities. 
  • Data encryption: Encrypting your sensitive data in transit and at rest (while stored on devices) to make the information unreadable to unauthorised users. 
  • Secure, regular data backups: Saving your critical data to a secure offsite location to allow for recovery in the event of a cyberattack. This ensures business continuity. 
Access management and control 

These measures control who gets into your computer and information systems and what they can do once they are there. 

  • Implement the principle of least privilege: Users should only have access to the information and resources they need to fulfil their job responsibilities. 
  • User account management: Regularly review and remove inactive user accounts from your system to prevent unauthorised access. 
  • Securing mobile devices: Enforce multi-factor authentication and complex passwords that are difficult to crack.   
Threat detection and response 

These are the tools and processes to counteract ongoing cyber threats attempting to harm your systems. 

  • Security monitoring tools: They continuously monitor your network traffic, applications, and user activity for suspicious behaviour that might indicate a potential attack.  
  • Incidence response plan: This is paired with a ready-to-activate incident response plan that ensures the business knows how to respond, recover, and remediate following security breaches. 
Cybersecurity culture and compliance 

A strong cyber security culture is key to compliance. Empowering your team to understand the reasons behind your cyber security policies will make them more likely to comply and behave security-consciously.  

  • Employee education: People make decisions that can leave your business vulnerable. Building shared values, attitudes, and behaviours can significantly reduce the risk of breaches. 
  • Vendor management and compliance: Ensure your third-party partners adhere to your cyber security standards and comply with relevant laws and regulations. 
  • Regular security audits and assessments: Regularly assess your compliance posture, including conducting penetration testing, to keep your defences up to date and identify vulnerabilities before attackers do. 

Cyber security is a journey, not a destination. As your business grows, so does the need to protect it with the latest security measures and technologies. Regularly refresh your strategies and connect with experts to stay informed.  

Remember, complacency is as dangerous as the threats themselves. Stay informed, agile, and protected. 

Netway Networks is running a FREE webinar on the Essential 8 cyber security strategies on 23 April 2023 where panellists will discuss what they are and how can you apply them to protect your business. Click here to learn more and register. 

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