The IT Director’s Cybersecurity Checklist
For IT directors, a lack of resources is a critical reality when it comes to cybersecurity. Use this checklist to develop your cybersecurity strategy, step-by-step.
Few IT teams have the necessary talent and budget to meet the increasing threat landscape. The number of bad actors profiting by illicit means continues to grow. And the software and the techniques they use are more sophisticated than ever before.
That’s just for starters. The number of entry points continues to climb exponentially. Physical devices are proliferating, from mobiles to those used for the Internet of Things. What’s more, today’s businesses rely on technology with roots from various sources, such as software coming from third-party SaaS or IaaS providers, from one-off vendor purchases, and cloud solutions. The attack surface stretches beyond what just a few years ago was unfathomable.
So, what can an IT director do to keep your organization ahead of mounting threats to stay safe and secure? The Center for Internet Security (CIS) recommends starting with basic, often-overlooked precautions to build a solid security posture.
Use this checklist to develop your cybersecurity strategy, step-by-step.
Inventory and Control Hardware and Software Assets
You can’t secure assets you don’t know you have.
Reducing your organization’s attack surface starts by having a complete view of all devices on your network. IT teams should make every effort to document and manage authorized devices and the software the devices run. IT teams must also quickly disconnect from their network all unauthorized devices and devices that run potentially dangerous software.
- Secure business devices, and outline and enforce strong security guidelines for personal devices. Don’t let unsecured devices onto the network. Use guest networks for visitors.
- Utilize inventory tools throughout the organization to facilitate up-to-date records of existing software and hardware.
- Oversee all user access to the business network, record authentication errors and unauthorized access, and sweet the network for unusual behavior.
- Create an escalation workflow for after-hours incidents involving unauthorized devices.
Continuously Manage Vulnerabilities
The IT team must have 24×7 real-time cybersecurity operations that can manage vulnerabilities, monitor and detect threats, and respond to malicious and risky activity in real-time.
- Prioritize responses so that vulnerabilities and intrusions that pose the highest risk and greatest threat are addressed first, instead of concentrating on less critical and non-essential tasks.
- Be ready to answer how security impacts business decisions, including where risk exists and how risks are mitigated.
Control Administrative Privileges
Administrative credentials are like the keys to your organization’s front door and a favorite target for cybercriminals seeking access to your data. Simple, re-used passwords and administrative accounts in disarray make stealing critical data easy for bad actors.
- Ensure all employees use password managers, single sign-on, and multi-factor authorization as part of their cyber hygiene.
- Set a password policy that requires unique and complex passwords for every employee.
- Ensure your staff is updated on security training and warned about current known threats, such as phishing attacks. Preparing and educating staff members to make them part of the solution.
- Ensure IT team members have admin access to all third-party software applications that access confidential or potentially sensitive data.
Set Configurations for Hardware and Software on Mobile Devices, Laptops, Workstations and Servers
Manufacturers design default configurations with user experience and ease-of-use in mind; security tends to be an afterthought. Basic controls, old protocols, preinstallation of unneeded bloatware, and open ports are easy targets for cybercriminals.
Good configuration doesn’t stop when users get access to devices, as you’ll need to watch continuously for changes when systems are patched or updated.
Ensure the IT team records past events and incidents, such as configuration changes, anomalies to inbound and outbound traffic, unusual behavior by privileged users, etc.
- This will build a complete picture of threats.
- Maintain documented security configuration standards for all operating systems and software in use.
- Utilize a Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) – compliant configuration monitoring system.
Maintain, Monitor, and Analyze Audit Logs
Without audit logs, attacks may go unnoticed and uninvestigated, leaving the door open to additional attacks and untold potential damages. Most IT teams keep records for compliance purposes. Still, attackers know many organizations lack the time or resources to review logs regularly, which provides a generous window of time to access systems and data undetected.
- Enable local logging on all systems and devices.
- Have a plan to analyze and review log data in real-time.
Bonus Tips: Security is a Process, Not a Project
Staying secure is not always painless, and it requires a certain amount of diligence from your entire organization. This means fostering a strong security culture from day one so that all employees – not just those in IT – employ strong security practices whenever they use their work devices or access your network. They must also be aware of physical security concerns and company practices to ensure access control and a safe and secure workplace that intruders can’t exploit.
- Ensure HR policies and onboarding cover best security practices. This starts with creating a clear company security policy and communicating security expectations on an ongoing basis.
- Determine budgetary needs and plan ahead so cybersecurity defenses can scale sufficiently as the organization continues to grow.
Stay on top of compliance. Attend virtual and in-person events to understand how new regulations impact your business.
- Consult corporate counsel to ensure your security standards satisfy federal and state cybersecurity guidelines.
- Suggest where insurance, added controls, or new tools could improve compliance with upcoming regulations and guidelines, especially as your business expands into new markets.
46Solutions can work with your IT team to check off every item on this list in the most comprehensive, secure, and affordable way possible. Contact us to speak with a cybersecurity professional and schedule your free consultation today.
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Crystal Newton is the marketing manager for 46Solutions. Originally from Bardstown, Kentucky, Crystal is a graduate from Transylvania University. She is currently a Director on the Board of Bluegrass Crime Stoppers, a Rotarian, and chosen as Ambassador of the Year for Commerce Lexington in 2020. She enjoys bourbon, running, and spending time with her family.