The technological advances that make our lives easier, more efficient and fun also open us to the extreme risk of identity theft and fraud. To make sure you and your business are as protected as possible, you should consider a professional security audit.
What Is a Security Audit?
A security audit can take many forms, but typically, it entails a security expert or firm evaluating your entire IT infrastructure, processes, and staff looking for vulnerabilities that may put you at risk of data exposure, hacking, or worse.
When you hire someone to perform a security audit, they may use penetration tools to see how easy it is to break into your network. They may also evaluate your hardware and software for known exploits or gaps in security when it comes to your hiring practices or operating procedures.
At the end of the security audit, they will provide you with a detailed report that indicates all the vulnerabilities and suggestions on how to tighten up your security.
IT Security Audit Benefits
There are many benefits to performing a self-security audit or hiring someone to perform one on your behalf. Although you can do it yourself, you benefit more from having a fresh set of eyes look for gaps in the system, and they may see something that you may overlook. Other benefits of a security audit are:
Confirm that all areas of your business IT are secure.
Give you more peace of mind that your risk of hacking or a data breach has been minimized.
Help to suture up your security training program.
Discover any flaws or gaping holes in your security that could potentially spell disaster.
Identify unnecessary or vulnerable software or hardware and make recommendations for upgrades.
Eliminating unneeded resources and expenses.
Help you remain compliant with government regulations (HIPAA, SHIELD, CCPA, GDPR, etc.) regarding privacy and security.
External audits performed by cybersecurity experts are highly beneficial but can be expensive, especially for smaller companies. Some types of businesses (banks and other financial institutions) are required by law to have professionals perform their security audits.
How to Conduct a Security Audit?
IT security auditors may work differently, but most will have a plan that follows a specific set of steps.
Typically, your security auditor will work with you to define your audit. What do you want to be evaluated? What do you want to get out of the process? Those are some likely questions that will come up in your initial interview with them.
Once you have a defined scope of work, the next step for your security auditor will be to list all your assets. Some things put on the list may be computers, mobile devices, servers, network equipment, IT staff, and the various types of data you collect, store, use, and discard.
Next, the auditor will take a look at your processes. They may interview staff to find out how data is exchanged and who has access. They may test these answers by shadowing employees and looking for weaknesses in the system.
At some point during the audit, the cybersecurity professional will define the threats to your organization and map out how these could occur, what data or information would be at risk, and how it could be used. Some things they may uncover are malware, ransomware, DDoS attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks, BYOD (bring your own device) attacks, or even natural disaster scenarios that could result in loss. At this juncture, they may identify the poor use of passwords, negligent employees, or other obvious security dangers that need to be addressed.
Once all the problems have been identified, they may use tests to see how easy it is to break into your network, testing network security.
The security firm may then assign each risk with a priority. The most urgent must be addressed as soon as possible. The higher the risk factor, the more emergent the need to secure it.
Along with a list of your security issues, the expert will also provide solid solutions such as:
Employee security training.
Sound password use and management.
The creation of policies disallowing any equipment brought to work that doesn’t have security software on it to protect the network.
Email protection (spam filters, antivirus, and training on phishing emails). They may also suggest email policy monitoring and management.
Installation of network monitoring software and 24/7 management.
Software upgrades or changes to another more secure vendor.
Better backup solutions.
After you have a full security audit, you may be shocked by the findings. Most companies believe they are doing all they can to protect the privacy and security of their data, but the simple truth is you cannot be too careful.
Take the time to have an audit performed and implement all the suggested solutions. It may cost a bit in the interim, but you will be glad you did, knowing your company assets are secured better than ever before.