The cybersecurity world is constantly changing. Attacks are becoming more frequent, more sophisticated and have worse outcomes.
Because of this, cybersecurity auditing has become a practice that every business should be doing regularly to ensure that cybersecurity vulnerabilities are identified before there's an attack that can be harmful or financially devastating.
Here, we'll answer the following questions:
- What Is a Cybersecurity Audit?
- How Often Should Agencies Audit Their Cybersecurity?
- What Are Steps For Securing My Business?
We'll also include some great tips for a cybersecurity audit!
Let's get started.
What Is A Cybersecurity Audit?
A cybersecurity audit is a cybersecurity review that identifies cybersecurity vulnerabilities within an organization or business. It looks for cybersecurity weaknesses, compliance problems, and out-of-date software so that it can be addressed before being exploited.
An organization might have cybersecurity auditing done by an internal cybersecurity team or cybersecurity firm or through a PCI DSS Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ).
How Often Should Agencies Audit Their Cybersecurity?
Per cybersecurity guidelines, cybersecurity audits should be done on at least an annual basis for any business that processes credit cards. Smaller businesses might want to audit their cybersecurity more often than annually, though not as often as monthly. It depends upon the cybersecurity requirements and regulations that the business must follow.
What Are Steps For Securing My Business?
There are nine cybersecurity auditing steps that we recommend for any business. Consider this security audit checklist to help you with your computer security auditing.
1. Define your Cybersecurity Audit
There are three cybersecurity audits that typically get defined - Security Vulnerability Scan, Network Penetration Test, and Wireless Penetration Test. These cybersecurity reviews can be done by cybersecurity professionals or using tools that are available online. The only difference is the level of expertise required to do so.
2. Determine the Assets that You’ll Be Focusing On
To audit your cybersecurity, you need to find out what assets are the most important ones to your business. Assets that should be focused on as part of cybersecurity auditing include:
- financial records
- employee records
- customer data
- patient data
3. List Out Potential Threats
For every cybersecurity audit, you should make a list of potential cybersecurity threats. This will allow you to create methods for mitigating those risks and training employees on cybersecurity awareness. Some cybersecurity threats to consider are:
- disgruntled employees
- malware & viruses
- natural disasters
4. Assess the Current Level of Security Performance
After making a cybersecurity threat list, it's necessary to have your cybersecurity auditors assess the performance in mitigating those threats. This will provide an objective cybersecurity audit that will allow you to identify your business's security strengths and weaknesses.
5. Set Up Configuration Scans
After identifying your assets and threats, set up configuration scans to check all of the devices on your network. These include computers, phones, servers, and more. This cybersecurity audit step is particularly important for smaller businesses that may have a limited security staff with limited time to focus on cybersecurity. Configure scans to run when network devices are not in use during business hours.
6. Perform an Internal Vulnerability Scan
Perform an internal vulnerability scan to find vulnerabilities that might be present in your business. This cybersecurity audit step can identify potential system and application vulnerabilities, which might allow hackers to gain access to your business.
7. Run Some Phishing Tests
Phishing is a popular social engineering tactic that hackers use to gain access to confidential information. The most common way they do this is via email with a malicious link or attachment. To help protect your business, use an anti-phishing tool that will alert you if a phishing email gets sent to your employees.
To run phishing tests, send sample phishing emails to your staff and see how many of your employees click on the links or open attachments, which can put your business at risk for a data breach.
Regardless of the result, it's worth it to invest time into educating your employees on the dangers of phishing.
8. Monitor Your Firewall’s Logs
The firewall is the first line of defence for your business, so it's important to monitor its logs. This cybersecurity audit step will allow you to see how many times a hacker has tried to breach your network, so you can implement proper security measures.
If you find that there are a significant number of breach attempts on your network, it may be time to upgrade your cybersecurity suite to be sure you're getting the best protection possible.
9. Prioritize Risk Responses
Once you have completed your cybersecurity audit, it's time to prioritize the risk responses. This will ensure that critical assets are immediately secured in case of an attack, without putting too much strain on the business.
For example, if a natural disaster threat is one of your top risk responses, you may want to allocate more money and time towards storing your data offsite. That way, you're prepared if your business is ever affected by a natural disaster.
Once your cybersecurity audit is complete, there are many benefits to keeping up with it periodically throughout the year.
For example, you should conduct a cybersecurity audit every year to ensure compliance with regulations for your business. Additionally, you may want to update your cybersecurity audit when there are major changes to the threats that your business is subject to. This helps ensure that your business is always protected against the most current threats out there.
Though it will take some time, conducting a cybersecurity audit is well worth the investment to protect your business.
Additional Tips For Your Cybersecurity Audit
As you're going through each step of your cybersecurity audit, keep these additional tips in mind.
- Have a dedicated security team that is responsible for implementing the steps from your cybersecurity audit.
- Prioritize which threats you're going to focus on because threats will continue to evolve and become more complex.
- Try to make sure your cybersecurity audit is as accurate as possible by using data that is up-to-date.
- Keep your cybersecurity audit results in a safe, easy-to-access spot so that you can utilize them going forward.
- Test your cybersecurity audit processes regularly to make sure they are effective. This will help you quickly pinpoint problems in the system.
- Know that cybersecurity is an ongoing process and that you should continually focus on updates and improvements.
The more time you spend conducting a comprehensive audit of your business's cybersecurity measures, the better off you'll be in case of a data breach.
After conducting your own cybersecurity audit, you may want to hire a third-party cybersecurity service to help you identify problems and recommend solutions.
Cybersecurity can be complicated, so it's wise to reach out for expert help before you run into issues with your business's data.