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Cybersecurity Audit: What It Is and Why You Need One

cyber security audit

Hackers, fraudsters, and other cybercriminals are finding more ways to steal sensitive data from consumers. Often, they start by launching cyberattacks on businesses that collect personal information. 

For this reason, companies like yours will need to perform a cybersecurity audit as a precaution against phishing, malware injections, and other threats. 

If you belong to sectors that are most vulnerable to cybersecurity threats, auditing your data security infrastructure can help prevent data breaches and improve your security posture. 

Managing and improving cybersecurity is important now more than ever. Let’s look at how a cybersecurity audit can help set up effective security controls and risk management. 

What is a Cybersecurity Audit?

Improving cybersecurity has to start with knowing your organization’s level of risk. This process is known as a cybersecurity audit and its main objective is to set up data security policies and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. 

A cybersecurity audit can help you determine if your organization’s security practices and protocols need to be updated. Moreover, performing an IT audit demonstrates your commitment to protecting your stakeholders from risk. 

In most cases, businesses employ third-party audit services to perform a risk assessment. With the help of security auditors, companies can create or update cybersecurity policies and develop compliance standards. In addition, a cybersecurity audit can also lead to a disaster recovery strategy for protecting important data and ensuring business continuity in the event of a disaster.

What Does a Cybersecurity Audit Cover?

A cybersecurity audit covers five different areas. Each of these areas focuses on a specific component of information security.  

Operational Security

Also known as OPSEC, this area involves reviewing administrative procedures and security controls. Improving OPSEC includes ensuring that security standards are followed and identifying actions that needlessly expose data. 

Data Security 

As the name suggests, data security focuses on protecting data during storage and transmission. The auditing process in this area highlights the need to review network access control and encryption used for the purpose of preventing security breaches and data theft

System Security

Anchored mostly on access controls, auditing system security can prevent unauthorized access to software and hardware. It also ensures that anti-virus components are up-to-date and countermeasures are in place. These measures often include setting up and managing a firewall. 

Network Security

To ensure those information systems are properly protected, you will need to audit your network security. Threats can spread to multiple devices across a shared network, so it’s important to know if your infrastructure is free from unauthorized users. To do this, you will need an effective security operations center or SOC in place.

Physical Security

Data breaches often start from your employees. Employees may unknowingly expose their login credentials to attackers that use social engineering techniques. Auditing physical security can help you prepare for such scenarios. It makes sure that countermeasures such as multi-factor authentication, biometric scanning, and disk encryption are in place. 

Considering all this, a cybersecurity audit allows for a better view of your security posture. While it costs time and money to perform, an audit will spare you from issues that will cause huge financial losses and lawsuits.  

How Does a Cybersecurity Audit Help Your Business and Why Do You Need One?

Technology is improving along with threats to privacy and data security. For this reason, your IT infrastructure must adapt to the latest risks. It must not stay stagnant while other companies are investing in building solid defenses against cyberattacks. Auditing your cybersecurity capabilities is the first and most important step as it helps you with:

Identifying weak spots and gaps

Your weakest link is the best opportunity for attackers to exploit. Through a vulnerability assessment, you can find your weak points and determine how to fix or improve them. That way, you deprive attackers of a possible entry point to your network.  

Providing an analysis of current security practices

Is your IT team monitoring your system of suspicious activity? How do you manage access to enterprise accounts and hardware? An audit should help you know if there’s a need to strengthen existing policies and practices. 

Determining how you can enhance your security

A cybersecurity audit is a fact-based process. It focuses on gathering concrete data and turning them into actionable insights. From there, you can identify what needs to be done and allocate the right amount of resources for implementing them. 

Providing assurance to your customers, employees, and business partners

Since your company requires personal data from stakeholders, you need to show that you can be trusted with such information. The lack of an internal audit has ethical implications.  Knowing their data isn’t safe with you, people will have a reason to avoid transacting with your company

Ensure your business reputation stays intact

It is possible to get away with not getting a cybersecurity audit, but the consequences are impossible to ignore. If a data breach happens and an investigation reveals a failure to perform and act on an audit, your company could face backlash from regulatory bodies and stakeholders. The impact on your reputation will be difficult to recover from. 

Auditing your security posture is not just a matter of compliance. It’s also an ethical part of running your organization. With this in mind, you might want to consider forming an audit team that consists of security experts. A certified information systems auditor (or CISA) and a cybersecurity assessment specialist can help keep your defenses up-to-date. 

 

Bonus: A Simple Cybersecurity Audit Checklist

 

  1. A cybersecurity audit prepares your company for the latest threats and reduces risk, but how do you perform one? Here’s a basic checklist of activities that an audit team handles: 
  2. Check inventory: What information assets do you have? Who has access to these assets?
  3. Check hardware and software controls: How are your PCs configured? What security features are activated?  
  4. Look into administrative privileges: Who can control or modify system configurations? 
  5. Secure device configuration: Are all devices in your facility properly installed and connected? Are there settings that were deactivated for the sake of convenience? 
  6. Maintain and monitor audit logs: When was the last audit performed? Who was the last person to perform it? 
  7. Look into your malware defense: Does your facility have the right cybersecurity programs in place? Is there a need to upgrade antivirus software? 
  8. Ensure your emails and web browser are secure: Do you restrict access to certain types of sites such as social media networks? Have you installed or activated a threat scanner on all your accounts? 

 

Summary

Accessing information is getting easier each year and cybercriminals are exploiting every trend that comes along. No business is safe, so it’s important to stay ahead by performing a cybersecurity audit at least twice a year. 

Before that, you need to start somewhere. Consider us at CMIT Solutions as your partners for a more secure business. Our multi-layered preventative approach allows us to help companies fill in security gaps, reduce the risk of data breaches, and ensure regulatory compliance. Contact us today and let us know your cybersecurity needs.  

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