No one in business wants to hear the word audit. It conjures negative images of IRS agents pouring over financial records or other official outsiders digging into company business to uncover mistakes.
However, auditing your company’s cyber security infrastructure shouldn’t be seen the same way. It’s actually a great opportunity for your company to achieve positive outcomes and should be a regular part of your cyber security plan.
Many companies assume their cyber security is solid—they invest little into discovering weaknesses unless a breach occurs. By that time, it’s too late. Apathy is one of the biggest threats to the security of your firm. An annual security audit isn’t just a good idea, it’s vital for the protection of your digital assets.
Auditing should be an integral component of your cyber security strategy plan. That’s because an audit of your security infrastructure can reveal shortcomings that need to be improved, strengths that need to be built upon, and opportunities for improvement.
Wondering how to audit your cyber security infrastructure? Here, we’ll cover major points of consideration to get the most from your cyber security audit.
Define Your Objectives
The first step in auditing your cyber security infrastructure is to define the objectives for your audit. In other words, you need to know what you want before you can start. Begin with general objectives and work toward detailing more specific goals for your auditor.
Ultimately, the objective of any cyber security audit is to provide an independent assessment of the effectiveness of your cyber security strategy plan. This includes policies, procedures, and management standards.
Some of the key objective considerations for how to audit the cyber security of your company are:
- Firewall configurations
- Network configurations
- OS configurations
- Router configurations
- Login procedures
- Encryption protocols
Choose An Outside Auditor
If you employ an in-house IT staff, it may be tempting to utilize your team to conduct your cyber security audit. You shouldn’t. An outside auditor represents your best bet for effective security auditing. That’s because an outside auditor has a better chance at detecting problems your IT staff may have missed.
What’s more, your IT staff specializes in managing your services, while a dedicated cyber security auditor specializes in detecting weaknesses in your security system. In other words, your IT staff may be too involved with the day to day work required to manage your systems to notice small weaknesses that could be obvious to an outside auditor.
Find The Right Fit
Not all auditing firms are the same. Consider a wide range of options before you commit to working with a particular cyber security auditor. Take time to find the right auditor who knows how to audit your cyber security infrastructure properly.
Check the work experience of prospective auditors and ask detailed questions. Do they have years of experience conducting audits for similar businesses?
Do they have customer references? Do they have a detailed plan outlining what they will do and why they are doing it? Are they offering a statement of work (SOW) that includes your objectives, a clear cut method for disputes, a payment schedule, and other necessary details?
These questions should help you determine if the auditor is right for your company. Ensure that you understand their processes, the payment agreement, and their past experience before you commit to working with them on your cyber security strategy plan.
The auditing process includes penetration testing of both internal and external systems as well as a review of your existing security procedures and policies. This should be a cooperative process where the auditor works with you and your team to complete a full assessment.
Some auditors conduct their reviews using an adversarial method wherein they attack your network. This includes black box audits and surprise inspections. While these processes can effectively demonstrate network vulnerabilities, they often do little for mitigating issues.
Choose an auditor that utilizes some adversarial methods within a larger cooperative scope. In other words, hire an auditing firm that will not only highlight weaknesses but help determine a course of action to strengthen your security.
Get Ready to Audit
Once you have chosen an auditor, determined your objectives, and created a plan of action with your auditor you are ready to begin the auditing process. Your auditor will know how to audit your cyber security system, but they need some help and guidelines about your business to ensure it is most effective.
Set restrictions on when the auditing can take place. You don’t want an auditor to crash your system with a test during the busiest time of the business day.
Ensure your auditors conform to your privacy policies. For example, if your business houses sensitive customer data, ensure the auditor follows appropriate protocols to protect that information.
Clearly communicate policies with your auditors, including how and when you want the auditing process to occur. Once you are prepared for the audit, it’s time to let them do their job.
Review the Report
After the auditing is complete, you will be presented with a final report on the health of your network infrastructure and the effectiveness of your cyber security strategy plan. This analysis will highlight the strengths of your system and delineate the deficiencies of your security.
It should include findings, testing methods, and active steps you can take to mitigate any issues. Your IT staff should review the assessment, findings, and recommendations before you make any changes.
The report should include a summary of any perceived or probable security weaknesses and remedies to fix them. This includes:
- Sources of potential threats
- Probability of attack
- Impact of exposure
- Potential legal liability
- Risk of service interruption
- Recommend actions to fix issues
Protect Your Network
Knowing how to audit your cyber security infrastructure is only half the battle. You should conduct regular audits to ensure your network is healthy and protected from attacks, hacks, and other threats. Security protocols that are effective today may not be tomorrow. Ensure your system is an asset and not a vulnerability through regular audits of your cyber security infrastructure.