Cyber Security Fitness: A Routine Check-up For Your Business

Cyber Security Fitness: A Routine Check-up For Your Business

Just like going to the doctor for an annual physical, your business needs to make cyber security check-ups a regular habit. Hacking attempts and data breaches are growing more sophisticated every day, so you can’t just set up your security measures and assume you’re protected. You need to continually evaluate potential risks and make sure your defences are up-to-date. 

This cyber security fitness routine will help you proactively identify and address vulnerabilities before they turn into major problems down the road. Consider it a check-up that keeps your business’s digital environment healthy and threat-free!

Perform Regular Security Audits

One of the best ways to assess your current security posture is through comprehensive audits. A network security audit examines your entire infrastructure and all connected devices. The goal is to identify any weak points or vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cybercriminals.

During the audit, security professionals will scan your systems, check firewall and encryption settings, test access controls, and more. You’ll get a full report that outlines any risks and provides a plan for addressing them. Schedule these audits annually or biannually.

Patch and Update Everything 

From operating systems to software programs to wireless routers, patches, and updates are vital for closing security gaps. But too often IT teams take a lax approach, delaying or even forgetting this basic cyber security hygiene.

Add patch management to your routine maintenance schedule. Track when updates are released for all devices and applications and apply them as soon as possible. Automating patches through centralised tools can make this easier. 

Prioritise any patches that fix known vulnerabilities, but don’t neglect general updates either. Failing to upgrade to the latest versions leaves you open to new methods of attack.

Review Third-Party Access

Vendors, contractors, and other third-party partners often need access to your systems and data. However, most third-party risks stem from inadequate security practices. Their access becomes your cyber security weakness.

Comb through all vendors with network access and ensure they take security as seriously as you do. Request their latest audit reports and verification of security practices. 

Any high-risk vendors, require periodic check-ins to confirm they are maintaining proper controls. Limit their access permissions and timeframes as much as possible.  

Check User Permissions and Access 

Your employees can also introduce cybersecurity risks if given unnecessary access privileges. During your fitness check-up, examine user permissions across applications, networks, remote access, admin rights, and more. 

Revoke any excessive access identified. Only provide elevated permissions temporarily as needed for specific roles and tasks. 

This should be an ongoing process as new hires join or employees change roles within your company. Make sure access aligns with current responsibilities.

Provide Ongoing Cyber Security Training

Despite all your technological defences, your employees are still your weakest link. It only takes one person falling for a phishing scam to open the door for attackers.

Regular cyber security training is essential for building a human firewall. Continually educate employees on the latest threats along with security best practices. Update them on new policies and procedures as you bolster defences.

Beyond one-off training, look for ways to make cybersecurity top of mind. Fake phishing exercises and simulated attacks keep everyone vigilant day to day.  

Test Incident Response Plans

Even with all the above precautions, you still may suffer a cyber attack. Your incident response plan is crucial for minimising the damage and restoring normal operations quickly.

Schedule routine incident response testing to evaluate its effectiveness in real-world scenarios. These dry runs will reveal any gaps in the plan or issues mobilising your response team.

Testing also keeps your team primed for rapid coordination and decision-making if an actual emergency occurs. Adjust the plan based on lessons learned during the exercises.   

Leverage the Latest Cyber Security Tools 

Cyber security technology advances swiftly, with new solutions emerging to handle evolving threats. Don’t stick with legacy tools out of habit when better alternatives now exist.

As part of your check-up, research innovations across all aspects of your security technology stack. Cloud services, AI algorithms, and machine learning are just some of the developments that could bolster your defences.

Evaluate options not just on technology merits but also business fit. Prioritise tools that seamlessly integrate with your tech environment and workflows.

Create Strong Backup and Recovery Systems

Despite your best efforts, some cyber attacks may still impact business operations and data availability. Backup and recovery systems act as insurance policies in worst-case scenarios. 

Evaluate whether your current data backups provide sufficient protection. Test backup recovery to confirm speed and reliability. Supplement local backups with air-gapped or cloud-based alternatives.

Also, assess your disaster recovery preparations. Verify that critical systems can be restored quickly in an emergency. Conduct disaster recovery exercises to confirm procedures and minimise downtime.

Just like going to the doctor for an annual check-up helps identify health risks early, cyber security check-ups allow you to detect digital vulnerabilities and address them proactively. Make comprehensive evaluations a habit so your business remains resilient in the face of growing cyber threats. Consistent vigilance is key for cyber fitness.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I perform cyber security check-ups?

Schedule check-ups at least annually. For higher-risk businesses such as healthcare, finance, and retail, conduct audits as often as quarterly.

What are signals my security measures may need a check-up? 

Indicators like an uptick in blocked intrusions, malware infections, or suspicious employee behaviours warrant a closer look. Major technology shifts or office relocations also require re-evaluation.

Can I perform cyber security check-ups internally? 

Leverage third-party auditors and penetration testers to get an unbiased assessment. But maintain basic security hygiene internally through tools for patch management, access controls, and system monitoring.

How can I make check-ups a regular habit for my business?

Add check-up tasks like audits and disaster recovery testing to your annual budget plan. Schedule check-ups in advance on corporate calendars to ensure participation. Appoint security champions to coordinate efforts across departments.

What are the consequences of neglecting cyber security check-ups?

Lack of regular evaluations leaves major gaps that can be exploited in attacks. Without ongoing checks, you operate blindly, unable to detect emerging threats until you’ve already been compromised.

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