Cybersecurity checklists: Why your business needs one

Keeping your business safe from cyberattacks requires the implementation of a range of important processes, systems, and controls. 

It also requires a coordinated effort to ensure these measures are maintained and built on over time. 

And you need to keep an eye out for new threats and ensure additional protections are put in place as required.

Sounds like a lot, right!

Given the scale and diversity of these activities, it can be difficult to keep track of them all. This is where a cybersecurity checklist can help, providing a snapshot of the work your business has already done.

With a cybersecurity checklist, the tool helps you assess your cybersecurity health without you needing to keep track of everything in your head!

What is a cybersecurity checklist?

Put simply, a cybersecurity checklist is a list of all the things a business should be doing to protect itself against cyberattacks. It is used to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a business’s existing processes and systems. It also supports strategic planning by highlighting the key areas requiring further focus and investment.

The importance of regular assessment

As the rate of cybercrime increases and cyberattacks become more sophisticated, business cybersecurity standards need to keep pace. This is particularly true for small businesses, which usually have weaker protections and are increasingly being targeted by cybercriminals.

As such, implementing and maintaining appropriate cybersecurity measures requires an ongoing commitment. Regular assessment of existing arrangements is a crucial part of this, allowing progress to be tracked over time. When done well, it also provides a framework for forward planning and can help provide a return on investment.

It is important to note here that any assessment tool, like a cybersecurity checklist, only identifies potential areas for improvement. Addressing these gaps will usually require additional effort and further investment, as well as the support of experienced cybersecurity professionals.

Features of a good cybersecurity checklist

Cybersecurity checklists come in a wide variety of formats and sizes. Some are extremely detailed and highly tailored to the unique considerations of a specific business or industry. Others are much simpler and cover the core activities that will benefit any business.

Whatever form they take, the best checklists share a few key characteristics.

Based on best practice

Regardless of the level of detail provided, a good cybersecurity checklist will enable you to measure your business against current industry standards. 

As part of this, it will highlight the greatest areas of concern, based on recent trends in cyberattacks. That means, by filling it out, you’ll know how well your business is protected.

Importantly, your checklist should be prepared by IT professionals with significant experience in the planning and implementation of cybersecurity measures. This should mean it is focused on practical interventions that are proven to deliver real protection against potential attacks.

Reflects the full range of security requirements

As there are multiple ways for cybercriminals to gain access to your systems and data, a robust security approach involves a range of different measures. 

Some of these will be technical solutions applied to the devices, applications, and systems you use regularly. Others will be administrative controls that are designed to minimise the risk and potential impact of an attack.

Acknowledging this, a good cybersecurity checklist will cover:

While the subject matter may be technical and complex, the assessment tool does not need to be. 

Often the best checklists are 1-2 pages, making them easy to complete while still providing enough of an overview to provide insights. 

In fact, an effective cybersecurity checklist should be simple enough that it can be completed by people who do not have an IT background. This is particularly important for small businesses, which often do not have experienced IT professionals on staff.

As part of this, the checklist should be structured logically, guiding the person completing it through the different steps of the assessment process. Response requirements should be kept as simple as possible, like ticking off the measures that are in place. The need for further detail should be kept to a minimum, as this can be gathered during any follow-up activities required.

Checklists designed to support small businesses will often also indicate what can be easily managed in-house, and what will require professional support.

Free to access

Most IT support services will have their own suite of tools designed to help clients assess and improve their systems and processes. This will usually include a cybersecurity checklist, though some consultants will charge you to access this document. Others will include access as part of broader cybersecurity service packages, but will still require you to pay to complete the assessment.

As there are a variety of high-quality resources available online, for free, there is no reason to pay for a checklist.

Using a free tool allows you to complete your assessment, and form your own opinion about the support you require. You can then have more informed discussions with potential consultants, working with them to tailor a package to your specific requirements.

Use our free cybersecurity checklist

15 Ways to Protect Your Business from a Cyberattack! is our free 1-page cybersecurity assessment checklist.

This free, easy-to-use self-diagnostic tool covers the 15 things every business should be doing to keep their valuable systems and data safe. Created by our cybersecurity experts, it allows you to quickly assess your performance against industry standards and identify any gaps you need to address.

We hope you find it useful. If you find your cybersecurity lacking, please don’t hesitate to get in touch so we can help you implement a robust cybersecurity plan.