5 Step Cybersecurity Checklist

5 Step Cybersecurity Checklist

Cybersecurity Checklist

As the technology world continues to evolve every year, cybercriminal activity skyrockets alongside it. Add to that the rising number of people working from home, and it becomes very clear that cybersecurity must work harder. 

Navigating today’s complex digital landscape is a challenge because cybersecurity threats have transformed from traditional brute force to well-crafted attempts. While it is difficult for a business or an organization to completely eliminate or predict cybersecurity threats, we’ve compiled a list of the top five things you should look at when it comes to your cybersecurity. 

1. Implement a Secure File-Sharing Solution, If You Haven’t Already

One of the best items to check off your cybersecurity checklist is using a secure file-sharing platform. When you send forms or documents digitally, you should be prohibiting unauthorized users from seeing shared information. This file-sharing approach is critical to protecting your business from cybercriminal activity.

If your business holds any confidential data, then sharing files securely should rank higher up on your list — especially when these datasets are shared only with a select few or groups who have all the rights to sensitive information and numbers. 

Secure file sharing is normally paired with a combination of other common security protocols like data encryption, multi-factor authentication and other security controls. Thankfully, there are many types of secure file-sharing systems for you to choose from that offer a wide variety of features, security protocols and prices.

2. Create and Enforce a Strong Password Policy

Did you know that weak passwords are the top way that cybercriminals gain entry into your accounts? That’s why it’s important to have a strong password on your cybersecurity checklist. Just like how you prioritize email security best practices, you should also make sure you have a strong password. Believe it or not, a password as simple as “123456” can easily be cracked. In fact, Cybernews analyzed over 15 billion passwords and found that “123456” was the most commonly used password.

IT policies should instruct employees to use complex, unique and seemingly nonsensical passwords. Using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters is much better than using one’s birthday, ID numbers, hometown, pet’s name or any personal information.

We recommend using a password manager service and not sharing your password with others outside of securely sharing within a specified password manager. Whether it’s your closest friend or family member, no one should be allowed to know your password until deemed personally necessary.

3. Take Advantage of Anti-Malware and Anti-Virus Software

Anti-malware and anti-virus software are excellent tools in the fight against cyber threats. Although it may seem a little bit repetitive, these anti-malware programs do work for you behind the scenes. 

Ensuring your programs are up to date and are always set to check for updates, scanning computers on a set schedule and religiously looking out for media inserted from flash drives and external hard drives are all key steps in protecting your business. 

If larger agencies and corporations are involved, each workstation must be configured to report an antivirus status to a centralized station to inform about unforeseen malware and update accordingly. 

Having antivirus software on a device does not always guarantee the safest endings nor the absolute protection one needs from evolving cybercrime methods; anti-malware and anti-virus software can only scan for what problems they know currently exist out there. However, the simple act of getting one service or updating the software saves your employees trouble while acquiring new defenses against ransomware, spyware and other forms of viruses.

4. Perform Security Awareness Training for Staff Regularly

Our increasing reliance on technology in the wake of the global pandemic has also contributed to a new wave of phishing. These attacks are designed to take advantage of employees or people seeking socially or culturally relevant information. 

Educating employees on the current methods like phishing, pharming and ransomware attacks that are used by hackers to gain access to computers makes your team much more likely to spot a threat before it becomes a company-wide issue. This is also a great opportunity for your organization to review firm policies and keep up with the latest cybersecurity trends.

While spam filtering has been used effectively to identify malicious emails, cybercriminals have gotten more clever, creating other forms of spam emails that come off as authentic and make their way into inboxes. At that point, an unsuspecting team member is only a few steps away from exposing your organization’s most valuable data. 

To counteract this, employees must undergo cybersecurity training highlighting the mitigation and identification of potential attacks. An additional step you could take would be to perform background checks on potential staff members before granting them access to resources and information.

5. Create and Regularly Update a Data Breach Response Plan

Even if you religiously follow the four aforementioned items in this cybersecurity checklist, adopting these solutions does not guarantee a permanently safe organization. All businesses must prepare for the worst, and in anticipation of a data breach, your business must maintain effective emergency recovery policies. 

This plan must be able to organize and facilitate your company’s effort in containing an attack. Employees must be assigned to consistently maintain and update the plan to ensure the speedy recovery of important data, systems, networks and numbers. 

In the event of an attack, communication channels between these employees must be observed throughout the process. Your plan involves many different steps aside from the data breach itself. 

It could also provide documentation on what the events leading up to the discovery of the breach were and develop a communications plan to reassure the employees of their safety.

Next Steps

Looking to further beef up cybersecurity at your business? Talk with an expert about your current IT strategic plan, your goals for the future and how Merit Technologies can give your company peace of mind.

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