An IT security checklist to protect your business

Cyber attacks are as prevalent as ever, making a comprehensive cyber security protocol essential for businesses of all sizes. Preparation is key when it comes to cyber security for business, ensuring critical data and technological assets are secure. An IT security checklist can help you consider these risks carefully and protect your business adequately.

What is the importance of having an IT security checklist?

An IT security checklist is important to protect the data integrity, assets and operational continuity of your organisation. It is a structured framework that guides you through and helps evaluate, implement and update your security measures to counteract emerging cyber threats. An IT security checklist can help you find weaknesses, enforce best practices and mitigate risks related to data breaches and unauthorised access. 

To maintain a robust IT security checklist, it is important to adhere to security standards and regulatory compliance to protect sensitive information. Taking a proactive approach will reduce the risk of financial losses, legal action and fines and safeguard the reputation of your business. 

An IT security checklist also assists with reviews and audits so any necessary updates can be actioned, and vulnerabilities can be identified through procedures such as penetration testing. Essentially, an IT security checklist forms part of a secure IT operation, encouraging awareness and accountability across the company when it comes to putting cyber security in place. 

Here, we delve into the five business cyber security areas to consider with an IT security checklist.

1. Network security measures

Network security shields your company’s digital doorways against intruders, so it’s important to set up defences and ensure those defences are strong enough to withstand attacks. These measures might include anti-malware, cloud-managed firewalls, email security, and a disaster recovery plan. You should also consider network segmentation, sandboxing, and zero-trust approaches to safeguard against data breaches and unauthorised access to your digital assets. 

The zero-trust approach ensures that only verified users get through. It demands rigorous checks every single time someone wants to access information inside the network. It heightens security on authentication methods, slicing the network into secure segments and enforcing a “least privileges” rule, making sure not just anyone can access the systems and enforcing that trust is earned, not given. 

These measures aim to keep business operations going while the network is protected from cyber-attacks.

2. Implement strong password policies

Implementing a strong password policy is non-negotiable for safeguarding your company’s sensitive data. This means enforcing complex passwords that are difficult to crack, a mandatory requirement to update those passwords regularly, and avoiding the use of the same password across multiple platforms. 

Strengthening passwords may seem like a simple step, but it’s a powerful one. A strong password policy can reduce the risk of your system being accessed and any potential data breaches so having this on the IT security checklist is a no-brainer. 

A strong password policy might include the use of complex passwords, a minimum length of passwords, restriction of password reuse and the establishment of a password audit. 

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is another security action that protects users from threat actors entering compromised systems and can go hand in hand with strong password policies.

3. Regular software updates and patch management

Keeping software up to date could be likened to getting regular health checks on your digital ecosystem. Hackers are constantly finding new vulnerabilities, and outdated software can become the weak link in your security chain. Regular software updates and patch management are crucial to protect against malware and cyber threats. Patch management is a formalised way of ensuring your software, servers, and systems are properly optimised, upgraded and secured. 

Plugging this gap in your security with up-to-date software and routine maintenance will benefit the performance of your software and enhance security features, making it more difficult for hackers to find a way to infiltrate these weakened areas. 

This proactive measure keeps operations running smoothly and your defences on point. 

4. Data backup and recovery plan

Despite all security efforts, a cyber attack could still happen, and if it does, you’ll need a plan that means data can be swiftly restored. 

Continued business operations are paramount, and, therefore, data should be protected against breaches or ransomware attacks. This can be done with regular data backups, performed in a verified, air-gapped way that encrypts sensitive data and applications in the cloud and on-site. The risk of vital data lost simply isn’t an option, and a safety net within a robust recovery plan will mean you can restore data without disruption to the business. 

Keep your operations resilient with secure off-site storage and recovery procedures that are clear and well-rehearsed. 

5. Employee training and awareness

Your employees can be your strongest allies or your weakest link in cybersecurity. Ignorance is a cyber criminal’s best friend. That’s why cultivating awareness of cybersecurity across the business is so important. Regular training and understanding from employees means phishing attempts are recognised and highlighted before it’s too late, passwords are secure, and a culture of shared responsibility for following security policies is second nature. 

If your team is transformed with cyber security knowledge, it will enhance the overall security posture of the business and reduce the risk of internal threats and human errors. Investing in the training and awareness needed is not to be forgotten when it comes to your IT security checklist.

What role do employees play in IT security?

Employees play a very important role in IT security. Every click, every password entered, and every email opened is a line delivered in the grand theatre of IT security. Employees are constantly in the spotlight, playing a lead role in keeping the show running smoothly. Human error is one of the top causes of cybersecurity breaches, with the ability for employees to be deceived, manipulated and distracted – all the more reason to raise awareness and pass on the knowledge required to spot the threats and follow strict guidelines when dealing with sensitive data. 

Turning employees into protectors means your business’s cyber security efforts are enhanced, and IT policies are followed.

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