Cyber Security Checklist: The Top 10

Written by Professor Adam Beaumont, CEO aql

If cyber security isn’t among your organisation’s biggest concerns, you haven’t been paying attention.

2017 saw personal data belonging to 44 million British citizens stolen in a hack on US credit rating firm Equifax. Second-hand electronics retailer CeX lost two million customers’ data in August. And it was only May 2017, lest we forget, when the NHS was crippled by a strain of ransomware known as WannaCry.

In a networked world, with ever more services and devices connecting to the internet, organisations are putting troves of sensitive data within hackers’ reach. As this potential bounty grows, so does the risk of a hack or intrusion, and it doesn’t take a cyber security expert to see the devastation these attacks can wreak.

Organisations need a robust cyber strategy and the latest technology, but also, crucially, a culture of cyber security awareness. From the CEO on down, every member of an organisation needs to understand how to protect themselves online, handle sensitive data, and keep their devices safe. A network is, after all, only as secure as its weakest link.

To that end, Stuart Hyde QPM, a member of the Europol Internet Security Advisory Board and aql’s regional ambassador for CiSP, has put together a checklist to help organisations keep themselves, and their customers, safe.

Cyber security checklist:

1. Network security

  • Protect your networks from attack
  • Defend the network perimeter, filter out unauthorised access and malicious content
  • Monitor and test security controls

2. User education and awareness

  • Produce user security policies covering acceptable and secure use of your systems
  • Include in staff training
  • Maintain awareness of cyber risks

3. Malware prevention

  • Produce relevant policies and establish anti-malware defences across your organisation.

4. Removable media controls

  • Produce a policy to control all access to removable media
  • Limit media types and use
  • Scan all media for malware before importing onto the corporate system

5. Secure configuration

  • Apply security patches and ensure the secure configuration of all systems is maintained
  • Create a system inventory and define a baseline build for all devices

6. Managing user privileges

  • Establish effective management processes and limit the number of privileged accounts
  • Limit user privileges and monitor user activity
  • Control access to activity and audit logs

7. Incident management

  • Establish an incident response and disaster recovery capability
  • Test your incident management plans
  • Provide specialist training
  • Report criminal incidents to law enforcement

8. Monitoring

  • Establish a monitoring strategy and produce supporting policies
  • Continuously monitor all systems and networks
  • Analyse logs for unusual activity that could indicate an attack

9. Home and mobile working

  • Develop a mobile working policy and train staff to adhere to it
  • Apply the secure baseline and build to all devices
  • Protect data both in transit and at rest

10. Set up your Risk Management Regime

  • Assess the risks to your organisation’s information and systems with the same vigour you would for legal, regulatory, financial or operational risks
  • To achieve this, embed a Risk Management Regime across your organisation, supported by the Board and senior managers


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