In today’s digital world, everything is converting from offline to online mode then why not Audits also. But in this situation one thing that fears everyone is security of their data digitally because as the world is growing digital risk cyber security from hackers is also growing. But for securing your data digitally of audits “cyber security audits” are conducted to ensure that your data is secured.
Let’s discuss Cyber Security Audits in detail;
What are Cyber Security Audits?
A cyber security audit is a systematic and independent examination of an organization’s cyber security. An audit ensures that the proper security controls, policies, and procedures are in place and working effectively.
Every organization has digital data and to ensure that their data is secured every organization possess some security policies and these cyber security audits are conducted to make sure that these policies are in place. In short, it allows you to inspect what you expect from your security policies.
The objective of a cyber security audit is to provide an organization’s management, vendors, and customers, with an assessment of an organization’s security posture. Audits play a critical role in helping organizations avoid cyber threats.
What does an audit cover?
A cyber security audit ensures that organization’s meet all the compliance requirements and security control optimization. It focuses on cyber security standards, guidelines and policies.
Specifically, an audit evaluates:
- Operational Security (a review of policies, procedures, and security controls)
- Data Security (a review of encryption use, network access control, data security during transmission and storage)
- System Security (a review of patching processes, hardening processes, role-based access, management of privileged accounts, etc.)
- Network Security (a review of network and security controls, anti-virus configurations, security monitoring capabilities)
- Physical Security (a review of role-based access controls, multifactor authentication, biometric data, etc.)
While a cyber security assessment, which provides a snapshot of an organization’s security posture, an audit is a 360 in-depth examination of an organization’s entire security posture.
Why Your Organization Needs Information & Data Security Audits?
With hackers, viruses and other forms of security breaches on the rise, organizations are facing a constant threat to the security of their sensitive data like never before. The massive implications of the breaches in data security have forced organizations to undertake necessary measures to prevent them and keep their data secure.
Challenges that organizations face when it comes to information and data security.
- Weak Security
- Unauthorized Access and Remote Access
- Inaccurate Information
- Incomplete or untimely processing
- Inadequate Training and Support
- Roadblocks in enhancing control over data and achieving higher levels of data security.
Benefits of cyber security audits:
- A cyber security audit is the highest level of assurance service that ensures security of data.
- It provides an organization, as well as their business partners and customers, with confidence about the efficiency of the cyber security controls applied.
- Unfortunately, internet threats and data breaches are more threatening than ever before. As a result, business leaders and consumers increasingly prioritize and value cyber security compliance.
- Specifically the following are some benefits of performing an audit:
- Identifying gaps in security
- Highlight weaknesses
- Reputational value
- Testing controls
- Improving security posture
- Staying ahead of bad actors
- Assurance to vendors, employees, and clients
- Confidence in your security controls
- Increased performance of your technology and security.
- An audit consists of multiple compliance and vulnerability scans, security and risk assessments, and applying of other cyber security tools used to conduct an in-depth examination into an organization’s cyber security.
Internal vs External Cybersecurity Audit
- Cybersecurity audits are generally performed by the cybersecurity services company to eliminate any bone of contention. They can also be performed with in-house security auditors at a lesser cost in comparison to external security auditors.
- External cybersecurity audits are performed by external experienced professionals and equipped with appropriate software and tools to perform a thorough audit. The auditors possess an adequate understanding of all security protocols as well as well-trained to detect flaws in your cybersecurity risk management.
- Outsourcing security audit to the cybersecurity services company has significant value, though it is quite expensive for smaller companies. To get better value from the external security audit, you must find the right and affordable auditing company, set expectations for auditors, submit relevant and accurate information, and implement suggested changes.
- Despite the benefits of external audits, many organizations opt for internal cybersecurity audits due to their cost, efficiency, speed, and consistency. An internal security audit is done with an in-house team, they can be done more often. Moreover, collecting and sorting relevant information is streamlined as it is not being shared with an audit vendor.
How often do you need security audits?
- How often you will need to perform an audit depends on what compliance or security framework your business follows.
- For instance, US has a legislation named FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) which requires federal agencies to have audits twice a year. If you work with a federal agency, then you also must comply with FISMA.
- Failure to comply with laws that require cyber security audits can result in fines and penalties.
- Other compliance regulations require annual audits. Some require none. How often you perform audits is entirely dependent on what type of data your company works with, what industry you are in, what legal requirements you must follow, etc.
- However, even if you are not required to perform an audit, most security experts recommend you perform at least one annual audit to ensure your controls are functioning properly.
8 Best Practices for A Cybersecurity Audit
Either you choose an internal or external security audit; you must look into the following steps to ensure you are conducting the audit properly.
- Start with defining your Cybersecurity Audit
The first job in a cybersecurity audit is defining the scope of your audit. You need to list down all your assets like sensitive data and computer equipment. Once you made the long list, define the security perimeter to segment your assets – assets you’ll need to audit and things you won’t. Shortlist your most valuable assets and focus 100 % on those assets.
- Share the Resources They Need
The auditor will need to connect with a subject matter expert to get a complete view of your cybersecurity management. Before the audit begins, introduce the point of contact; they will be required to talk. It would be better to conduct a meeting where the auditors should show up with the tools, they need to access your network. This will smooth out the audit process and save time.
- Audit relevant compliance standards
Before the security audit begins, review the compliance standards requirements, which apply to your business and industry, and share with the audit team. Understanding the compliance regulations helps to align the audits with the requirements of your company.
- Detail your Network Structure
One of the main goals of a security audit is to disclose security gaps on enterprise networks. Providing your auditors with a detailed structure of your network gives them a broad overview of how your IT infrastructure is structured, aiding them to head start the vulnerability assessment process and identify the security gaps and edges. The detailed network structure is a diagram showing an overall view of what assets are there, how they are linked, and what are the existing protections between them.
- Detect and Record Risk and Vulnerabilities
Identify all vulnerabilities in your system, which could affect your business. This requires the understanding of technologies, business processes involved, the compliance risks of each process, possible attacks, and laws & regulations, which apply to your business. Once you comprehend the complete range of risks your business faces, assess the possibility of each attack, the motivation behind it as well as the level of influence.
- Assess Existing Cyber Risk Management Performance
Now that you have got a list of vulnerabilities and their impacts, you have to check whether your company can defend against them. Evaluate the performance of the current security measures, which includes the evaluation of the performance of yourself, your department, and security policies. This is one phase where a cybersecurity services company can add more value as they have no internal preferences which affect the outcome of cybersecurity audit.
- Prioritize Risk Responses
The final step in a cybersecurity audit is to pinpoint the possible ways to respond to the security risk and prioritize the best methods which suit your business and industry. Also focus on the risks, which are more likely to cause more damage to your organization. To prioritize threats, weigh the damage of a threat versus the possibility that it actually can occur and assign a risk score to each.
- Ensure Regular Audits
It is suggested that in-depth security audits are carried out at least twice a year. Based on your business size, you could do audits quarterly, or monthly. You can do audits for business as a whole or per department if it severely disrupts workflow. Most successful businesses are proactively doing cybersecurity audits regularly.
Cyber security audit Checklist:
Your audit checklist will depend on your industry, size, and compliance framework. Therefore, each organization’s checklist will vary.
However, there are some basic categories that every audit should include. Specifically, the following are essential categories to review:
- Inventory and control of hardware assets
- Inventory and control of software assets
- Continuous vulnerability management
- Controlled use of administrative privileges
- Secure configuration for hardware and software on mobile devices, laptops, workstations, and servers
- Maintenance, monitoring, and analysis of audit logs
- Email and web browser protection
- Malware defence’s
- Limitation and control of network ports, protocols, and servers.
These are all the things one should know about cyber security audits. Every organisation is definitely advised to have cyber security audits conducted to make sure the security of their data. While conducting audits digitally this cybersecurity is also required to make sure that the data that is obtained while conducting audit is secured from any data hampering.