A security audit is a way for your business to test if the security measures you take are working as effectively as they should. Since there are various types of security audits, such as cybersecurity, you may need to employ more than one to decide if you need to make any changes to your security plan.
What Is an IT Security Audit?
Manual and automated assessments are typically what make up an IT security audit. Manual assessments involve an IT security auditor interviewing employees and reviewing access controls and physical access to hardware. Typically the IT security auditor will also perform a vulnerability scan. It’s critical to have a manual assessment at least once per year.
Automated assessments are also an essential part of an IT security audit. Your system will generate software monitoring reports and any changes to file and server settings. Tracking your security risk profile over time will allow you to complete assessments with more ease.
How often you should perform these assessments depends on what kind of business you run. For example, if your business stores and keeps track of a lot of sensitive data, you would want to perform these assessments more frequently. In some cases, regulatory requirements will affect how often you need an IT security audit.
Types of Security Audits
While there are many kinds of security audits, they can generally be classified into one of two categories, which have different procedures:
- Internal audits: An internal audit involves an organization conducting its own audit to test and validate security systems, procedures and policy compliance.
- External audits: An external audit involves hiring an external organization to make sure your business follows government regulations and industry standards. A company’s supplier can perform a second-party external audit. Independent auditing groups perform third-party external audits.
Under internal and external audits, there are three different types of assessments.
Your business would typically perform a one-time assessment when something changes in your security system. For example, if you’ve decided to implement a new software platform, you may run an audit to make sure you understand any risks this new platform might bring to your business.
Tollgate assessments ultimately have binary outcomes, meaning the results are either go or no-go. Your business might perform these assessments before introducing a new procedure or process to determine whether you can integrate it into your existing systems. Tollgate assessments are less about gauging specific potential risks and more about looking for roadblocks.
Portfolio assessments are generally performed more regularly than one-time assessments or tollgate assessments. These assessments ensure your business follows your security procedures and verify that these procedures still work for your organization’s needs. Consider scheduling a portfolio assessment once or twice a year.
What’s Covered in a Security Audit?
An audit looks at each of your security systems to determine if they are at risk for vulnerabilities. A security audit generally checks your company’s systems in the following areas:
- Software systems
- Data retention policies
- Information processing
- Insufficient password complexity
- Change management procedures
- Incident response plans updated and tested
- Non-existent or inadequate file activity auditing
- Non-existent or inadequate review of auditing data
- Correct security software and security configurations
- Overly permissive or inconsistent ACLs on folders
- Only compliant software installed on systems
- Disaster recovery plans updated and tested
- Architecture management capabilities
- Sensitive data stored and protected
- Security controls and encryption
- Telecommunication controls
- Network vulnerabilities
- Systems development
Let’s take a look at what assessing some of these areas might entail:
- Telecommunication controls: An audit may look at whether your telecommunication controls are working for clients and servers and the network that connects them.
- Encryption: An auditor examines your company’s data encryption processes to make sure you have controls in place to manage them.
- Software systems: An audit looks at your software systems to determine if they are working properly and providing accurate information. An audit also verifies that your business has controls in place to prevent unauthorized users from getting access to sensitive information.
- Architecture management capabilities: The audit will check to make sure you have policies and procedures in place to create a controlled environment for information processing.
- Systems development: Any systems you have under development must adhere to set standards and meet any security objectives you’ve set for your business.
- Security controls: The effectiveness of your security controls is essential, which is why audits will typically look at the procedures you’ve put in place to protect your information. For example, an auditor might check whether your business has administrative control over its mobile devices.
- Network vulnerabilities: A security audit will check how information travels between two points within your systems, network availability and access points.
What Is the Importance of Security Audits for Businesses?
Audits are important because there are always new vulnerabilities and regulations for specific industries in cybersecurity. Audits also come with many benefits, including:
- Getting your security strategy verified
- Getting your security training efforts verified
- Reducing costs by shutting down useless hardware or software
- Uncovering vulnerabilities from new technology or processes
- Proving your business is compliant with regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
What’s the Process for Security Audits?
Before you go forward with a security audit, consider doing the following:
- Agree about what the end goals for your security audit are and get sign-offs from everyone involved.
- List all programs, software and devices that will be a part of the audit.
- Consider industry and geographic standards, such as HIPAA, CCPA and GDPR.
- Decide if you want to conduct an internal or external audit.
Also, make sure you avoid the following when you conduct your security audit:
- Avoid spur of the moment assessments.
- Don’t question your results if you’ve followed through with the process of your security audit in full.
- Beware of unproductive uses of time when it comes to conducting your security audit.
- Focus on uncovering any risks or vulnerabilities in your security system.
Preparing the Audit
It’s time to prepare your audit. Make sure you have your list of objectives handy and mark what items on your list are top priorities. Align your priorities with the tasks your auditor will take during your security audit. Not every item on your list will require the same amount of effort.
Think about your objectives and consider what tools and methodologies you’ll need to meet them. You can even create a questionnaire that pinpoints what data you’ll need for your audit.
Conduct the Security Audit
Your next step is to conduct the actual audit. During your audit, make sure you have all of the required forms you’ll need, and keep detailed notes. You want all of the data you collect from the audit to be accurate. You can also use past audits and your auditing team to help you figure out which data points you need to pursue and which ones you can leave alone. Ensure any new information that hasn’t been a part of past audits is at the top of your priority list.
After you review the data that comes from your security audit, let everyone involved know the results. Create a list of things you’ll do to address any potential security risks uncovered and update your security system with any changes you need to make.
Here is a quick summary of the steps involved in a security audit:
- Conduct the audit and identify threats: List potential threats related to each area of your security system. Threats can include the loss of data, equipment or records through natural disasters, malware or unauthorized users.
- Evaluate security and risks: Assess the risk of each threat actually happening and what your business can do to defend against it.
- Determine the needed controls: Identify what security measures you must implement or improve to minimize risks.
What Should a Business Consider Before Starting a Security Audit?
Before starting a security audit, consider the following benefits of one:
1. Justify Security Expenditures
The portion of a security audit that looks at risk assessment can help justify any financial expenditures you may need to make to protect your business. If you have investors, you might need to show that you’re spending money on top-notch security for good reasons.
2. Pinpoint Risks
Knowing that your security system is at risk isn’t enough to begin the steps to improve it. Security audits help determine exactly what areas of your security system need to be updated to ensure proper safeguarding. Pinpointing these risks will then help justify different investments in security.
3. Streamline IT Department Productivity
By determining what specific areas your security system needs work in, you can help your IT department figure out what they need to do long-term to monitor risks and threats to your system. That way, they’ll spend more time keeping threats at bay instead of dealing with breaches to your system.
4. Breakdown Barriers Between Departments
Security audits bring your management team and your IT department together to collaborate. Management helps create objectives for your security system, while your IT department puts procedures and policies into place to reach those objectives.
This collaboration can help bring all departments involved in a security audit together and create the common goal of protecting your business.
5. Establish a Basis for Self-Review
The IT department isn’t the only one responsible for the smooth workings of your security system. Other groups, such as your management team, also play a role. A good security audit engages everyone involved with the security audit appropriately and ensures everyone takes the proper amount of responsibility for your company’s sensitive data.
A security audit may help you establish what each department involved needs to do going forward to keep your security system up to date and running. You may discover what each team needs to do with an informal, internal self-review for each department rather than a formal, third-party audit.
6. Share Information Across Departments
Security audits make it easier to share information across departments. Easier access to information may help make departments aware of what other departments are doing, which can help each department fine-tune how they work to assist other departments.
Sharing information across departments after a security audit also gives team members who may not have insight into your security system crucial information and allows them to share some of the responsibility of keeping your business secure.
How Orchard Can Help You Prepare for a Security Audit
You may have several cybersecurity services protecting your Apple devices and Mac computers. At Orchard, we can help you manage your security services with ease. First, we’ll monitor all of the devices on your network. Then, we’ll identify any risks within your network, which may include suspicious activity or security threats.
Consultations are a great way to find out what technology you need to support your security system. Our consultations do just that and give you guidance on identifying ongoing threats or risks your business might face. We can help your team make sure everyone involved in your security system has the right resources to monitor and update it.
We can also monitor any risks or threats that may come with new software patches to ensure you have the proper tools and protections to combat any risks and threats.
Protecting your server data can often mean using the cloud, and Orchard can also help you there. Even if you face a virus or security breach, we can help you use a backup to restore your network quickly.
Any device you use on your company’s network can be compromised, so our process is to come into your business and secure each one of your devices by helping you with prevention, detection, response and recovery.
Contact Orchard for More Information
At Orchard, we can help you scale your Apple investment more quickly. Whether you’re a corporate IT department, a start-up or a service provider, we’re here for you. If you’re interested in using Apple products as part of your business model, our Apple mobile device management solutions can help you do so with ease.
To learn more about our services and how we can help your business, give us a call at (212) 502-4708 or use our online contact form.