Small business cybersecurity checklist



#GoToGetsIT: This article is part of an ongoing series from GoTo’s thought leaders on the frontlines: Our Solutions Consultants deeply understand our customers’ unique challenges and connect the right solutions to meet their goals using GoTo technology. Here, they share their industry knowledge on what it takes to help businesses everywhere thrive in a remote or hybrid world.

In today's digital landscape, cybersecurity is crucial for organizations of all sizes. While large corporations often grab headlines for cybersecurity breaches, small businesses are just as—if not more—vulnerable to cyberattacks. In fact, Barracuda’s Spear Phishing: Top Threats and Trends report reveals that employees of small businesses experience 350% more social engineering attacks than employees of large enterprises. These types of attacks, such as phishing, baiting, and impersonation, do not rely on sophisticated technical exploits but instead focus on manipulating individuals into divulging confidential data, performing actions, or making decisions that benefit the attacker. As one chief information security officer explains, “Financially motivated adversaries find SMBs a soft target due to the insufficient security controls and shortage of skilled resources at their disposal.”

However, beyond social engineering attacks, there are a multitude of other threats that can pose significant risks to your small business. These threats range from ransomware attacks that can hold your vital data hostage until a ransom is paid to malware infections that can disrupt your operations and compromise your sensitive information.

To help protect your small or medium-sized business (SMB), we've put together a practical cybersecurity checklist. It offers actionable steps to strengthen your digital defenses and safeguard your valuable assets from potential cyber threats.

Small business cybersecurity checklist

Implement Security Awareness Training

Security awareness training involves educating your employees about cybersecurity best practices. This training helps them understand common threats like phishing emails and how to respond to them. For instance, employees can learn how to identify suspicious emails by looking for unusual sender addresses or requests for sensitive information. Regular training sessions and simulated phishing exercises can make your team more vigilant against cyber threats. Platforms like KnowBe4 or SANS Security Awareness offer user-friendly training modules and simulated phishing tests that help employees recognize and respond to online threats effectively.

Enforce Access Control to Sensitive Data

Access control ensures that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data and systems. To strengthen your organization's security posture, implement a password management tool to encourage strong password practices and store credentials securely.You should also adopt a Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) system where access privileges are assigned to users based on their job roles and responsibilities. This approach ensures that individuals only have access to the resources and information necessary for their specific roles. For instance, only HR managers should have access to employee payroll data, while other employees are restricted from this sensitive information.

Enforce Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, like a mobile app or a text message code, in addition to a password. This can include something you know (like a password), something you have (like a mobile app or a hardware token), or something you are (biometric data like fingerprints or facial recognition). Select a suitable MFA solution that aligns with your organization's size, budget, and technology stack. Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator are popular choices, but there are other options available as well.

Strengthen Endpoint Security on Devices

Just as you prioritize regular health check-ups for your well-being, it's essential to ensure the robust protection of all computers and mobile devices in your organization using an endpoint protection tool. Integrated Partner Solutions, Inc., a company dedicated to automating engineering processes, is a great example of this. Through their use of a remote monitoring and management (RMM) software, they successfully enhanced their endpoint security amidst tight engineering project timelines. Gene Perry, Vice President at Integrated Partner Solutions, underscored the value of this protection, especially when managing proprietary engineering data. He emphasized the confidence their clients felt thanks to their RMM software and its permission-based, end-to-end data encryption. Using a mobile device management software in addition to RMM software can help ensure data security and compliance on mobile devices used for work so all company-owned and BYOD devices are protected.

Assess Vendor Security

If your business relies on third-party vendors or cloud services, like remote meeting tools or payroll software, assess their security practices and ensure they meet your cybersecurity standards. Pay particular attention to how they handle sensitive data, access management, and encryption practices. Depending on your industry, you may also want to ensure that your vendors comply with specific cybersecurity regulations (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS) if they handle your data. Look for tools that offer advanced security protocols, like zero trust architecture, to give your organization peace of mind when it comes to remote access security.

Develop an Incident Response Plan

Create a comprehensive incident response plan with clear steps for cybersecurity incidents and assign roles and responsibilities for a coordinated response. For instance, appoint an Incident Coordinator who oversees the entire response effort, ensuring that actions are coordinated and aligned with the plan. Technical Analysts, on the other hand, are responsible for investigating and assessing the nature and scope of the incident. Legal counsel should also be part of your response team, ready to address any legal implications of the incident.

Establish an Employee Offboarding Process

When an employee leaves your company, it's crucial to remove their access to systems and data. This is similar to collecting keys and access cards when an employee leaves an office. One way to make the process easier is to create an access revocation checklist. This checklist should include all the systems, applications, and data repositories that departing employees have access to. As soon as an employee's departure is confirmed, systematically go through this checklist to disable or change their access credentials. For example, if your business uses cloud-based services like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, you can easily revoke access by deactivating their user accounts. Additionally, update password protocols to ensure that former employees cannot use their old passwords to gain unauthorized access.

Protecting Your Small Business in the Digital Age

Cybersecurity is an ongoing process. By implementing these practices, you'll significantly enhance your SMB's security and safeguard your business in the digital age.

GoTo Resolve’s all-in-one IT management and support solution helps mitigate the risk of cyber threats for small businesses and allows agents to protect and secure IT assets without disrupting end users. It proactively detects and automatically schedules needed patches across servers and workstations as well as monitors and manages antivirus software from a single dashboard. With our industry-leading security model, your small business can confidently meet its cybersecurity requirements.


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