Believe it or not, no matter the size of your business or your industry, you need regular IT security audits. If you’re skipping them, you could be risking your entire life’s work. In this article, we want to run you through the basics of an IT security audit, why they’re so important, and how you can go about getting one.
What Exactly Is an IT Security Audit?
An IT security audit is an assessment of your current approach to security. The auditor will look over infrastructure, security measures, training, risks, and more to find any weaknesses in the system. When completed, the audit should identify (if any) vulnerabilities and loopholes.
External vs. Internal IT Audits
While you absolutely can appoint someone within your company to perform your business’ security audit (internal), it can be easy for them to overlook some risks. Internal auditors may be hesitant to tell a boss or higher-up they’re doing something wrong, for example, or they may not have access to all the necessary resources to do accurate penetration tests.
External audits, on the other hand, are done by a 3rd party. As a result, they’re more invested in being honest about your security measures and risks. 3rd parties also can have certification your team is lacking. For example, Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSPs) are the gold standard for external audits. They understand how to properly access risk, close loopholes, and help the company mitigate threats going forward.
How Often Should Audits Be Performed?
How often you perform an audit depends on your industry, risk, and compliance requirements. Some companies may have to hold more audits per year than others. However, it is generally recommended that IT security audits be performed at least once a year.
Why Do You Need an IT Audit?
It’s not a choice anymore – businesses, large and small, regardless of the industry, need to regularly perform security audits. Here are just a few of the benefits.
Satisfy Cybersecurity Insurance Requirements
We’re seeing a rapidly growing number of Texas businesses who must implement more security controls than they once did just to secure an insurance policy. In the past few years, insurance companies have had to pay out millions of dollars to businesses who have suffered ransomware attacks, phishing attacks and other breaches. That’s led the insurers to tighten requirements to mitigate their own risks.
Where we once saw increased scrutiny on specific industries, this is now a requirement that is impacting all sectors.
You Can Improve Business Operations
Audits don’t only check for security holes – they ensure your system is working properly. If you implement the recommended changes, for example, you may be able to improve hardware, software, and the network – all of which help to reduce downtime. Your team will experience less disruption to their work, which means increased productivity, fewer missed deadlines, and more profits.
On the other side of things, your customers will notice too. As a result, they’ll have more trust in your organization. Improve your customer experience, increase customer retention.
You Lower Your Risk
IT security audits help to head off attacks before they happen. Thanks to the advice given after an audit, you can implement new strategies, including training, detection, and response, that ensure you’re working to keep cyberattacks at bay.
And small businesses are not exempt from risks. In fact, cybercriminals know that your IT security is likely lacking. As a result, they’re more likely to attack you. Many don’t recover. The average cost of a data breach for smaller companies is between $120,000 and $1.24 million.
You Can Meet Compliance Requirements
Insurance companies, organizations, and agencies are now requiring that their clients and partners be compliant to their security standards. Failing to do so could result in loss of the insurance policy, bids, and work.
Two common compliance requirements that are more prevalent today are:
Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). This is a program from the DoD for Defense Industrial Base contractors designed to protect sensitive information.
Payment Card Industry Compliance (PCI). This refers to the standards that companies are required to follow to protect consumer credit card information.
What Types of IT Security Audits Are Out There?
There is no one catch-all IT security audit. There are several, and your organization may require more than one type. It’s essential to discuss these with a cybersecurity professional to understand your specific needs.
Risk Assessment: Identifies risks, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities in your strategies and infrastructure.
Vulnerability Assessment: Further identifies the risks you may be facing and helps to develop plans to improve cybersecurity.
Penetration Testing: Auditors work to “attack” and bypass current security measures to identify weak points. (Think the raptors methodically testing the security system in Jurassic Park!)
Compliance Audit: Ensures you’re meeting the rules and regulations set forth by insurance companies and governing bodies.
Due Diligence Questionnaires: Typically requested by vendors to understand your cybersecurity posture and strategies.
Start With VersaTrust’s Free Network Audit
A free network audit helps Texas organizations identify their risks and understand what additional IT audits and assessments they need to stay in compliance and run smoothly. During our audit, we’ll look at hardware, software, security strategies and other critical factors.