Year-end cybersecurity review: 5 Questions business owners should ask

Year-end cybersecurity review: 5 Questions business owners should ask

The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on your business's performance, successes, and challenges so that you can prepare for the year ahead. One crucial area that deserves your attention is cybersecurity.

Conducting a cybersecurity assessment is a great first step, but its effectiveness hinges on asking the right questions. To help you navigate this process, we've compiled a list of five key questions that every business owner should ask when reviewing their cybersecurity strategy:

1. Are we only trying to achieve compliance?

While meeting regulatory requirements is crucial, it shouldn't be the sole factor guiding your cybersecurity efforts. Think of compliance as a baseline, not a finish line. Merely fulfilling compliance checklists might lull you into a false sense of security. Remember, cybercriminals don't care about regulations; they target your unique vulnerabilities.

2. What vulnerabilities could cybercriminals exploit?

Cybercriminals are constantly on the lookout for the easiest way to breach your defenses. To effectively defend yourself, you need to think like them and identify potential vulnerabilities that they could take advantage of. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are we running outdated software or unpatched systems? Cybercriminals often exploit known vulnerabilities to infiltrate systems, so make sure to keep all your software up to date at all times.
  • How secure are our access controls and user permissions? Weak controls can grant unauthorized access to sensitive data. Review and tighten access rules regularly.
  • Have we trained our employees to recognize and report suspicious activity? A well-informed workforce can serve as your primary line of defense against phishing and other cyberthreats. Make sure to invest in regular employee security awareness training.

Aside from updating your software, securing access, and providing employee training, consider proactive vulnerability scanning. Deploy automated tools to continuously scan your systems and applications for known vulnerabilities. These tools prioritize critical issues and provide actionable patching recommendations, helping you stay ahead of potential cyberattacks.

3. Which vulnerabilities should we address first?

Don't waste resources chasing every minor threat. Instead, prioritize risk based on potential impact:

  • Exploit severity: What kind of damage could exploiting this vulnerability cause (e.g., data breaches, system outages, financial losses)?
  • Exploit likelihood: How likely will attackers target this vulnerability? Is the vulnerability common or well-known?
  • System criticality: Are vital systems or sensitive data at risk if this vulnerability is exploited?

By weighing these factors, you can identify the high-impact, high-likelihood vulnerabilities that demand immediate attention. This targeted approach enables you to allocate resources effectively, preventing the most serious threats while mitigating lower risks over time.

4. Are our cybersecurity controls actually working?

Put your cyber defenses to the test by conducting penetration testing, which involves hiring ethical hackers to simulate real-world attacks. This test allows you to uncover hidden vulnerabilities and potential weaknesses in your systems and applications before malicious actors exploit these.

You should also conduct periodic reviews of your security controls, including policies, procedures, and technical measures. Identify any gaps in compliance or best practices, and update your defenses accordingly.

5. Are we prepared if we suffer a cyberattack?

Your company should have a comprehensive incident response plan in place. It should be a detailed, step-by-step guide outlining actions for every stage of a cyberattack: detection, containment, eradication, recovery, and communication.

However, having an incident response plan is just the start. You need to regularly train your employees in their roles and responsibilities in the event of an incident. Conduct simulations and tabletop exercises to test your plan, practice communication protocols, and identify weaknesses under pressure. You could also tailor training to different teams based on their responsibilities in the plan. For example, IT teams might need deeper technical knowledge, while management might focus on crisis communication and decision-making.

Take note that your incident response plan shouldn’t be a static document. It should be regularly updated based on the lessons learned from simulations and real-world incidents, organizational changes, and evolving threats.

By asking these five questions and taking proactive steps, you can ensure your business enters the new year with a robust and effective cybersecurity strategy. The IT experts at Quicktech can help design, implement, and manage your cybersecurity controls. Book a FREE consultation with us today.