The importance of cybersecurity can’t be overemphasized. Although it hasn’t always been a priority for many, the recent past has shown how dramatically it can change and the need to continually audit the existing cybersecurity systems and practices. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, almost everything went online. From shopping to banking to medical appointments and anything else in between.
With that, the increase in cyber-attacks at the onset of the pandemic grew by a whopping 400%. This includes ransomware, phishing, and other types of attacks targeting different organizations. This necessitated the need for more vigilance and cybersecurity audits with the practices already in place.
Read along to find out more about cybersecurity auditing.
What Is A Cyber Security Audit?
An audit means an inspection or examination to detect issues with a process or practice. In cybersecurity, it’s a thorough review of the existing security infrastructure, policies, measures, and procedures to mitigate risks. An organization can identify if the mechanism they have in place is appropriately placed and practiced by everyone.
Audits help in making organizations more proactive in their IT security measures rather than being reactive. As with any other audit, these audits are primarily performed by an independent third-party entity to eliminate bias and conflict of interests in the process. However, an effective cybersecurity audit also requires a comprehensive understanding of best practices.
Types Of Cyber Security Audits
Audits aren’t carried out in a one size fits all kind of way. There are different types of cybersecurity audits and each focusing on different security priorities. These are the three common types:
These are the security audits that you do when there’s a reason that has triggered the need for one. It can be done at the introduction of new software, where you want to see if it holds any security risks before introducing it in your business.
This type of audit has a two-fold outcome. It’s carried out to determine if you should proceed with something or not. It determines if a procedure or process can be safely introduced in your existing setting.
These are the scheduled routine audits that your organization carries out quarterly, bi-annually, or as regular as you’d wish. They’re best used to verify the performance of the existing security infrastructure and procedures and confirm that they adequately meet your business needs.
Here are five best practices for cybersecurity auditing:
Review Your Cyber Security Policy
You need to have a cybersecurity policy that lays down the rules and procedures for handling company and customer information. Before any audit, ensure to review the policy to determine how well the company follows data integrity, confidentiality, and availability. Data integrity concerns control put in access to the information and how it’s accessed.
Confidentiality involves those who have access to the information, up to what level, and with who they can share this information. As for availability, these are outlined conditions under which the data can be accessed by authorized personnel. When you have an elaborated security policy, auditors can easily classify data and decide on the type and level of security measures most suitable to protect it.
Get The Right Team For The Audit
In the past, cybersecurity audits have been done by in-house teams. But this comes with challenges in getting an unbiased report, recruiting, and retaining the befitting team for this kind of work. Auditing is a sensitive process that requires the right expertise and personal ethics. This has given rise to the need for outsourced managed security services.
This allows you to get top-quality security audit services at a lower cost since you only pay for the services received instead of having an entire team on your payroll.
Define Your Audit Parameters
As stated above, each audit type focuses on different aspects of your security environment and procedures. That makes it essential to know what exactly you’re assessing. If you don’t set audit parameters, you may end up with no audit at all. Ensure you understand what you’re auditing and what it entails. Some of the tips that can help you to set suitable parameters include:
Consider the objective of the cybersecurity audit
The current security infrastructure and extent of security measures, i.e. how is the state of your backups?
Where you stored your data currently and the risks involved
How everything relates to the current state of cybersecurity threats
Suitable audit parameters result in better reports and practical recommendations.
Understand The Level Of Existing Threats
Setting audit parameters is just part of good audit practice. You also need to understand the threats that exist within those parameters. You should also know the likelihood of those threats occurring. Look at the risks of the highest risk factors to your data. The most common threats you might want to consider include
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks
Intentional and non-intentional human errors
The best practice is to contextualize the risks you’ve gathered to information that can help you develop reliable security solutions. But first, you need to understand the true nature of the vulnerabilities. The two common areas with high-security vulnerabilities are:
There are security issues that arise from human error, resulting in accidental data leaks. They can be addressed by continuous monitoring of the existing practices and the probable leaks.
These are primarily identified through penetration testing or otherwise known as a pen test, to see gaps that cybercriminals can exploit, that may result in data breaches.
In an audit, putting vulnerabilities in context helps ensure you use the suitable auditing application and get the best audit result. Then, you can make the most realistic security improvements as needed.
Detail Your Network Structure
Among the main goals of undertaking cybersecurity, an audit is to help pinpoint the gaps in the security of your network infrastructure. Providing a detailed network structure to the auditors will help them gain a clear picture of your entire IT structure to expedite the audit process. To do this, have all your network assets laid out and give a detailed view of how they work together.
When auditors have a comprehensive view of your network, they can identify potential loopholes, edges, and weaknesses quickly and easily.
Cybersecurity audits are quite essential in ensuring that the security measures you have in place are working and identifying any vulnerabilities. It’s also helpful and makes you more proactive with your approach to cybersecurity. But above all, you should keep in mind that cybersecurity is evolving, and you shouldn’t stop at one audit. It needs to be a continuous process and adherence to the measures in place to enhance cybersecurity.