Cybersecurity checklist for the New Year


With the ring in the New Year, there is hope that 2023 brings abundant health, prosperity, and success in all endeavors.  A new year is a beginning, a fresh start for everything.  And of course, it’s also a time to think about making cyber security a priority as everyone is back from the holidays to prevent future headaches and costly prevention. 

Now is a great time to assess your current cyber security setup and make sure you’re starting out the New year right.  A quick checklist can help you to determine if your cyber security is adequate or if you need to step up your game plan.  Questions are needed to ask about quality firewalls to block unwanted traffic to the network.  Are you using two-factor authentication?  What’s about anti-virus and anti-malware software to protect you from cyber threats?  Are all your passwords more than 12 unique and strong characters?  And any backup and restore plans?

If you can confidently answer and check off many of these questions, you are better than most at protecting your business from online threats. 46% of all cyber breaches affect businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees, according to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigation Report. In addition, according to the report, 61% of small medium businesses (SMBs) will be the target of a cyberattack in 2021. These figures have steadily risen in recent years. In 2020 alone, there were over 700,000 attacks on small businesses, resulting in over $2.8 billion in damage.

According to a March 2022 Intuit Quickbooks survey, malware is followed in popularity by phishing (17%), data breaches (16%), website hacking (15%), DDoS attacks (12%), and ransomware (10%).

Cyber attacks on small medium businesses (SMBs) can be extremely costly, and such attacks can quickly add up. Furthermore, many small medium businesses lack the resources or personnel to manage and maintain IT systems. As a result of their weaker cyber security plans and implementation, they are an easy target to breach. Downtime, lost business, emergency solutions, legal and regulatory fines, and other factors can drive up costs. Small medium businesses frequently lack emergency funds or insurance to cover expenses.

It’s also worth noting that 55% of Americans are less likely to do business with companies that have had their security compromised. The negative consequences and effects are severe. They can have a significant impact on the finances and reputation of a company. There is no transaction and no money is received when there is downtime. Furthermore, if the website or email is unavailable, it may result in a loss of business and customer loyalty.

In a world where cybercrime occurs around the clock, businesses must develop a comprehensive plan and conduct a technology audit that includes company resources and risk factors. When you understand your company’s strengths and weaknesses, you can put in place a scalable cyber security plan and checklist. This will keep your company ahead of the security curve while also implementing best practices for your cyber security strategy.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst

Knowing your environment well and preparing for a breach will allow you to respond much more quickly if a successful attack occurs. Your response time is an important factor in your planning. Teach your employees how to physically secure and lock sensitive documents and computer files. Encourage good security practices for your corporate devices and laptops, which can be easily stolen if left unattended. Desktops and servers in open, public areas or unattended, unlocked offices can also be easily taken.  It’s critical to assess your current resources to see if there are any gaps in knowledge or manpower.  And it’s a good idea to plan ahead and have a game plan for different situations and outcomes.  The keyword here is prepare for anything.

Train your employees

Train employees in security principles such as best practices, policies, and awareness to close cyber security gaps. Compromised passwords, phishing, and social engineering can all expose your company to a cyber attack. Furthermore, this will immediately increase your employees’ awareness levels and provide them with the practical skills needed to better protect your company from attacks and ransomware threats.  Creating a security-aware culture by incorporating security values into your company’s values as well as customers.

Your company’s first line of defense is education and ongoing employee training that evolves in tandem with cybersecurity. The topic could range from ransomware to data security and how to work safely remotely. Employee training demonstrates how various procedures and frameworks coordinate and work together. Similarly, employees will be able to understand the challenges posed by cyber security issues and how to deal with them. It also allows cyber security issues to be tracked and resolved before they become a full-fledged crisis.

Implement Security Measures

To add another layer of security, you must have not only a username and a strong password, but also a code generated from something physical that you have with you, such as a cellphone or token. Everyone, without even realizing it, uses a form of two factor authentication, such as an ATM card with a protected pin number. Two factor authentication is required to confirm your logging and who you are in order to protect sensitive information or access the company network. Two factor authentication significantly improves your security and reduces account hijacking. Cyber criminals will not be able to access your cellphone or token to obtain the one-time password.

Anti-virus software is essential for protecting company information and data and keeping computers and servers running smoothly. Anti-virus software is intended to protect your computer from damage or unauthorized access to information and data. You should also avoid clicking on any suspicious-looking ads or downloading unknown software from the Internet to keep it safe and secure. You should also restrict who has access to your organization’s high-value data. Implementing an access control policy will assist you in establishing guidelines that outline who can access data and resources for your company. You should also restrict access to software installations.  When you use role-based access control, you can grant employees access to only the data, tasks, and applications that are required for their job function and role.

Keep your cyber security awareness and updates up to date.

Keeping devices and software up to date with the latest patches is one of the most effective ways to prevent cyber security attacks. Attackers frequently use known flaws to compromise systems and gain access to networks and devices. In many of those cases, vendors have already provided a fix that could have prevented the breach from occurring in the first place. Patching is a difficult task due to the large number of devices and the sheer volume of systems that must be maintained.  It is critical to develop and implement a plan for regularly updating your critical and most vulnerable assets, as well as to prioritize vulnerabilities with the highest severity and risk.

You need to be aware of the need to update your software, which requires knowledge of your operating system and the most commonly used software. The most frequently used software, such as a web browser, is one that should always be updated to the latest version.