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What is a Cybersecurity Audit & Why is it Important

Imagine for a moment that you’re building a new house. Once construction is complete, you notice that your sink leaks. You walk into your attic and realize there’s no insulation. Your basement is humid and mold is growing because proper dryer ventilation has failed. As you continue through the house, more problems and failure points are being discovered.

Your house has failed its ‘stress test’. While we know this is a bit of an extreme example, the same thing could be happening to your network.

And while it won’t help to keep you warm at night, making sure that your entire cybersecurity platform is robust and thoroughly checked for vulnerabilities is crucial for both peace of mind and the safety of your data. The 2021 Verizon DBIR report shows that, in 2020, 73% of all cyberattacks were seeking out cloud assets.

But how can we safeguard our network against these types of weak points? Simple — we need to perform a cybersecurity audit.

What Is a Cybersecurity Audit?

A cybersecurity audit is a comprehensive review and thorough analysis of an IT infrastructure. The audit process is formulated to discover imminent threats and vulnerabilities while bringing visibility to existing weak points and risky behaviors.

While different companies will ultimately have different needs regarding their overall security needs, there are a few best practices that you can use when developing your security audit.

Revisit Your Company’s Data Policy

Security Scorecard, another security rating firm, states that companies should have an information security policy that lists out all of the pertinent details about how, when, and why a company handles data the way that they do. Within that policy, there should be clear and easy to understand details about:

Data Confidentiality – This says who has access to your different types of data and who it can and cannot be shared with.

Integrity – This is to understand how your security protocols maintain data accuracy. Additionally, this also lays out the framework your IT team uses to keep your data online in the event of a cyberattack.

Data Availability – This is for defining what conditions need to be met before any authorized users are allowed to access your different sets of data.

Your Cybersecurity Policies, Simplified and Centralized

During your audit, you want to paint the clearest picture possible regarding your data policies and compliance requirements. For example, if you’re auditing a hospital’s system, auditing with HIPPA compliance in mind will help to make sure your patient data is protected from all angles. Other factors to consider are:

Network Access Control – This is your visibility and control of your network. Security Scorecard recommends checking user access and segmentation.

Disaster Recovery and Continuity Plan – In the event of a cyberattack, what steps will you take to keep business operations online?

Requirements for Remote Workers – What software is your team allowed to use? What are the VPN protocols? Is their access to your company’s data full or partial and where is it located within the company?

Acceptable Use Policy – This details what data employees have access to and how they’re allowed to use it. Additionally, this is a great place to define any banned applications you don’t want on your network.

Compliance Requirements – We mentioned this twice due to its importance. HIPPA, PCI DSS, COPPA, and GDPR are amongst the most common compliance frameworks, with GDPR being primarily for Europe.

Details of Your Network Infrastructure

This is a great time to mention those new smart thermostats your company added last year since they’re also vulnerable to cyberattacks. You’ll want to have a thorough list of every piece of software and hardware that comes in contact with your system.

Pro Tip: It’s always best to have your IT team assist any electricians, HVAC technicians, or any other service personnel with any sort of smart equipment you may want to add to your business. This not only ensures a safer installation but is also another human-level safety measure to prevent unauthorized network access.

Shortlist Your Security Team

Your IT team is the lifeblood of your company. Without the computers running or the internet connected, a business will cease to function. At the same time, not every member of your IT team will be in charge of security due to seniority or education. Having the auditor interview your employees about current security measures will give a better understanding of the overall proficiency of your staff and identify any necessary learning opportunities.

Audits Are Designed to Help, Not Hurt

Performing audits on your network and cybersecurity protocols is a good thing. It helps to isolate problems that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Assuming your audit goes well, pat yourself on the back and know that your money is being well spent and that your data is safer for it. If there are some shortcomings, use those audit results to fix the issues and develop an even stronger security plan for tomorrow.

 

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