Resource Corner

Small Business Cybersecurity Checklist

Learn how to protect your business against common social engineering attacks.
man writing cyber security on board

Barracuda’s Spear Phishing: Top Threats and Trends report reveals that employees of small businesses experience 350% more social engineering attacks than employees of large enterprises. These types of attacks, such as phishing, baiting, and impersonation, do not rely on sophisticated technical exploits but instead focus on manipulating individuals into divulging confidential data, performing actions, or making decisions that benefit the attacker. 

Yet, beyond social engineering attacks, there are a multitude of other threats that can pose significant risks to your small business. These threats range from ransomware attacks that can hold your vital data hostage until a ransom is paid to malware infections that can disrupt your operations and compromise your sensitive information.

To help protect your small or medium-sized business (SMB), we've put together a practical cybersecurity checklist. It offers actionable steps to strengthen your digital defenses and safeguard your valuable assets from potential cyber threats:

Implement security awareness training
Security awareness training involves educating your employees about cybersecurity best practices. This training helps them understand common threats like phishing emails and how to respond to them. For instance, employees can learn how to identify suspicious emails by looking for unusual sender addresses or requests for sensitive information. Regular training sessions and simulated phishing exercises can make your team more vigilant against cyber threats.

Enforce access control to sensitive data
Access control ensures that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data and systems. To strengthen your organization's security posture, implement a password management tool to encourage strong password practices and store credentials securely. You should also adopt a Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) system where access privileges are assigned to users based on their job roles and responsibilities. This approach ensures that individuals only have access to the resources and information necessary for their specific roles. 

Enforce Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, like a mobile app or a text message code, in addition to a password. This can include something you know (like a password), something you have (like a mobile app or a hardware token), or something you are (biometric data like fingerprints or facial recognition). Select a suitable MFA solution that aligns with your organization's size, budget, and technology stack. Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator are popular choices, but there are other options available as well.

Strengthen endpoint security on devices
Just as you prioritize regular health check-ups for your well-being, it's essential to ensure the robust protection of all computers and mobile devices in your organization using an endpoint protection tool. Using a mobile device management software in addition to remote monitoring and management (RMM) software can help ensure data security and compliance on mobile devices used for work so all company-owned and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) devices are protected.

Assess vendor security
If your business relies on third-party vendors or cloud services, like remote meeting tools or payroll software, assess their security practices and ensure they meet your cybersecurity standards. Pay particular attention to how they handle sensitive data, access management, and encryption practices. Depending on your industry, you may also want to ensure that your vendors comply with specific cybersecurity regulations (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS) if they handle your data. 

Develop an incident response plan
Create a comprehensive incident response plan with clear steps for cybersecurity incidents and assign roles and responsibilities for a coordinated response. For instance, appoint an Incident Coordinator who oversees the entire response effort, ensuring that actions are coordinated and aligned with the plan. Technical Analysts, on the other hand, are responsible for investigating and assessing the nature and scope of the incident. Legal counsel should also be part of your response team, ready to address any legal implications of the incident.

Establish an employee offboarding process
When an employee leaves your company, it's crucial to remove their access to systems and data in a timely manner. This is similar to collecting keys and access cards when an employee leaves an office. One way to make the process easier is to create an access revocation checklist. This checklist should include all the systems, applications, and data repositories that departing employees have access to. As soon as an employee's departure is confirmed, systematically go through this checklist to disable or change their access credentials. 

All content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and tax or accounting advisors before making any financial decisions.