cybersecurity audit checklist

Cybersecurity Audit Checklist for Small Businesses

Domain Name… check

Hosting… check

Website… check

Database… check

Facebook Page… check

Cybersecurity… Not found!

Employee awareness of cybersecurity… Not found!

This is a typical scenario faced by most small businesses all over the world. This scenario, in turn, becomes the most common cybersecurity threat faced by small and big businesses; a threat bigger than that posed by hackers.

The sad reality of cybersecurity is that a good percentage of security breaches stem from the company’s very own lack of interest in cybersecurity, and negligence at the hands of authorized personnel.

Don’t get us wrong. We know that employees aren’t deliberately breaching the company’s cybersecurity since most of their mistakes are mere accidental, such as an employee misguidedly emailing confidential client information outside the company, a cashier leaving a customer’s credit card information on a publicly viewable computer, or a manager unintentionally deleting company’s essential files.

That’s not it. More common breaches include unintentionally downloading malware on company’s computers by clicking on malicious popup ads – which may contain computer viruses that can shake the foundations of your company’s network.

According to an industry research, dozens of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses reported facing security issues caused by an employee of the business. Sadly still, most businesses don’t take any security measures until it’s too late.

This can be attributed to the fact that most business owners pay little or no attention to cybersecurity and to this day are still reluctant to invest in it. They realize their mistake typically on the day their vital data gets wiped out with a malware attack.

The widespread use of smart devices such as smartphones further complicate matters for business owners. The growing adaption of the remote-workers model and bring your own device or the BYOD culture too has become a challenge for businesses and entrepreneurs.

Here is a cybersecurity audit checklist for small businesses:

Small and mid-sized businesses can go a long way if they incorporate and implement the following cybersecurity steps mentioned in the checklist below.

Strategy and human resources policies

  • Ask yourself, does your company have a cybersecurity audit checklist policy that is clearly conveyed to the employees?
  • Does your company have a policy on standard cybersecurity audit checklist practices, including password and online accounts management?
  • Do you have confidentiality agreements with your contractors and vendors?
  • Does your company have a specifically designed privacy policy?

Data backup

  • Do you backup your data to a secure server or cloud?

For critical data (this is anything needed in day-to-day operations, including customer information), do you centralize it on a server and back it up nightly to a remote location?

For important data (anything important to the business but that doesn’t get updated frequently), do you centralize it on a server and back it up semi-regularly off-site?

Desktop security

  • Do all computers have working and updated antivirus software?
  • Do you have a security policy for downloading and installing new software?
  • Do you have passwords with a minimum of eight alphanumeric characters that are changed every 90 days?
  • Are all computers updated with the latest system updates and security patches?

Internet and network security

  • Do you have a firewall and intrusion detection system for all web connections?
  • Do you use a virtual private network for remote access?
  • Are all modem and wireless access connections known and secured?

Privacy and sensitive information

  • Is customers’ financial information encrypted and accessible only to those who need it?
  • Are paper files kept in locked filing cabinets with controlled access?

Audit

  • Do you conduct a periodic audit (every six months at least) of your ICT security checklist?

The steps mentioned above, while basic, are designed to help you overcome various threats lurking on the internet. What a growing business needs is a comprehensive cybersecurity policy, one that helps the business uphold its reputation, protect the trust of customers and avoid financial damage. Start with the basics mentioned above and stay glued for more in-depth information coming your way.

Source: Business Development Bank of Canada

Ather Owais Ather Owais is a tech and cybersecurity enthusiast. He is a strong advocate for online privacy and security, following technological trends and their impact on today's digital era.

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