Explaining Cybersecurity Audits (And the Three Tips for Running One)

It would help if you had more than the latest antivirus software to ensure your company’s network is secure. A cybersecurity audit enables you to create a complete picture of your security strategy.

WHAT IS A CYBERSECURITY AUDIT?

Think of an audit as a comprehensive examination of every cybersecurity strategy you’ve put in place. You have two goals with the audit:

  • Identify any gaps in your system so you can fill them.
  • Create an in-depth report that you can use to demonstrate your readiness to defend against cyber threats.

A typical audit contains three phases:

  1. Assessment
  2. Assignment
  3. Audit

In the assessment phase, you examine the existing system. 

This involves checking your company’s computers, servers, software, and databases. You’ll also review how you assign access rights and examine any hardware or software you currently have in place to defend against attacks.

The assessment phase will likely highlight some security gaps that you need to act upon. And once that’s done, you move into the assignment. 

Here, you assign appropriate solutions to the issues identified. This may also involve giving internal professionals the task of implementing those solutions. However, you may also need to bring external contractors on board to help with implementation.

Finally, you conclude with an audit. 

This takes place after you’ve implemented your proposed solution and is intended as a final check of your new system before you release it back into the company. This audit will primarily focus on ensuring that all installations, upgrades, and patches operate as expected.

THE THREE TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL CYBERSECURITY AUDIT

Now that you understand the phases of a cybersecurity audit, you need to know how to run an audit effectively to provide the information you need. After all, a poorly conducted audit may miss crucial security gaps, leaving your systems vulnerable to attack.

These three tips will help you conduct an effective cybersecurity audit in your company.

TIP #1 – ALWAYS CHECK FOR THE AGE OF EXISTING SECURITY SYSTEMS

There is no such thing as an evergreen security solution.

Cyber threats constantly evolve, with hackers and the like continually coming up with new ways to breach existing security protocols. Any system you’ve already implemented has an expiration date. Eventually, it will become ineffective against the new wave of cyber threats.

This means you always need to check the age of your company’s existing cybersecurity solutions.

Make sure to update your company’s systems whenever the manufacturer releases an update. But if the manufacturer no longer supports the software you’re using, this is a sign that you need to make a change.

TIP #2 – IDENTIFY YOUR THREATS

As you conduct your company’s cybersecurity audit, continuously ask yourself where you’re likely to experience the most significant threat.

For example, when auditing a system that contains a lot of customer information, data privacy is a crucial concern. In this situation, threats arise from weak passwords, phishing attacks, and malware. 

More threats can come internally, be they from malicious employees or through mistaken access rights to employees who shouldn’t see specific data.

And sometimes, employees can leak data unknowingly.

For example, allowing employees to connect their own devices to your company network creates risk because you have no control over the security of those external devices.

The point is that you need to understand the potential threats you face before focusing on implementing any solutions.

TIP #3 – CONSIDER HOW YOU WILL EDUCATE EMPLOYEES

You’ve identified the threats and have created plans to respond.

However, those plans mean little if employees do not know how to implement them. 

If you face an emergency, such as a data breach, and your employees don’t know how to respond, the cybersecurity audit is essentially useless.

To avoid this situation, you need to educate your employees on what to look out for and respond to cybersecurity threats. This often involves the creation of a plan that incorporates the following details:

  • The various threat types you’ve identified and how to look out for them
  • Where the employee can go to access additional information about a threat
  • Who the employee should contact if they identify a threat
  • How long it should take to rectify the threat
  • Any rules you have in place about using external devices or accessing data stored on secure servers.

Remember, cybersecurity is not the IT department’s domain alone. It’s an ongoing concern that everybody within an organization must remain vigilant of. 

By educating employees about the threats present and how to respond to them, you create a more robust defense against future attacks.

Audits Improve Security

Cybersecurity audits offer you a chance to evaluate your security protocols. 

They help you identify issues and ensure that you’re up-to-date regarding the latest cybersecurity threats. And without them, a business runs the risk of using outdated software to protect itself against ever-evolving attacks.

The need to stay up-to-date highlights the importance of cybersecurity audits.

However, your security solutions are not one-and-done. They require regular updating and re-examination to ensure they’re still fit for the purposes you’re using them for. As soon as they’re not, there will be vulnerabilities to your business that others can exploit.

Audits improve cybersecurity.

And improved cybersecurity means you and your customers can feel more confident.

If you’d like to conduct a cybersecurity audit but are unsure whether you have the skills required to do so correctly, we can help. We’d love to have a quick 15-minute no-obligation chat to discuss your existing systems and how we may help you improve them.

The article was used with permission from The Technology Press.

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