Cybersecurity audits explained – plus 3 tips for doing one

January 18, 2022
Cybersecurity Audit

Cybercrime has grown into one of the prevalent methods of fraud and malice of modern times. Your business needs more than phishing awareness or the latest antivirus program to make sure your company’s devices and network are secure. A cybersecurity audit (also known as cybersecurity assessment) is necessary to provide you with a blueprint for your security strategy.

Let’s take a look at numbers from just a couple of years ago, in 2020.

  • 5.6 billion malware attacks;
  • 62% increase in detected malware variants;
  • 600% growth of cybercrime at large;
  • 54% of ransomware infections were caused by phishing.
  • 55% of attacks are attributed to attempts of data exfiltration

In 2021 ransomware attacks brought companies over $6 trillion of loss.

If you don’t put a top priority on cybersecurity IT services, you position your organization at risk of attack.

You probably already have some protection methods in place to defend your SMB against cybercrime. However, you need to be certain that what you have is enough: you also need to know measures you have in place are sufficient. That’s where cybersecurity audits and assessments take an important place.

Let’s take a look at cybersecurity assessments or audits and what they are about.

WHAT IS A CYBERSECURITY AUDIT?

Think of an audit as a comprehensive examination of every cybersecurity strategy you’ve put in place. You have two goals with the audit:

  • Identify any gaps in your system so you can fill them.
  • Create an in-depth report that you can use to demonstrate your readiness to defend against cyber threats.

The terms “assessment” and “audit” have been interchanged frequently in various publications. Here it is explained as a 3-phase process:

  1. Assessment Phase  begins with an exam of the existing systems. This involves checking your company’s computers, servers, software, and databases. You’ll also review how you assign access rights and examine any hardware or software you currently have in place to defend against attacks. The assessment phase will likely highlight some security gaps that you need to act upon.
  2. Assignment Phase starts after the assessment is concluded. You designate appropriate solutions to the issues identified – possibly involving internal staff to the task of implementing those solutions. However, you may also find that you need to bring external IT security specialists on board to help with implementation
  3. Audit Phase takes place after you’ve implemented your proposed solution and is intended as a final check of your new system before you release it back into the company. This audit will primarily focus on ensuring that all installations, upgrades, and patches operate as expected.

Now that you understand what a cybersecurity assessment or audit means, please pay attention to these crucial points for running a cybersecurity program for your organization.

THE TOP 3 TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL CYBERSECURITY AUDIT

Now that you understand the phases of a cybersecurity audit, you need to know how to run an audit effectively such that it provides the information you need. After all, a poorly conducted audit may miss crucial security gaps, leaving your systems vulnerable to attack.

These three tips will help you conduct an effective cybersecurity audit in your company.

1. Monitor the age of existing security systems

There is no such thing as a permanent security solution.

Cyberthreats keep growing, evolving, and escalating their presence constantly. Individual hackers and Dark Web community as a collective are continually create new tactics to breach existing security protocols, and bypass the fresh new updates. Any solution that you already have in place an expiration date, and so will every new one. At some point, every solution becomes obsolete and ineffective, and you must stay on track of the patches, updates, and overall aging schedule of current cybersecurity solutions  your business has or will acquire.

Make sure to run updates the manufacturer or developer releases an update: they are meant not only for agility of the solution, but also for security upgrades. Do not wait for the maker of the product to reach End-of-Life (EOL) and stop supporting or securing the software your business is using. Upgrade or make the change before the expiration date.

2.  Identify your weak spots

As you perform your SMB’s cybersecurity audit, keep asking yourself: what is my most vulnerable asset that needs to be protected from significant threats?

For example, if you have data containing customer information, including their personal, financial, and otherwise sensitive details, data privacy is critical. And so you must prioritize addressing password strength, minimize phishing attacks, implement protection against malware, and have a strong data use policy for your employees: internal compromise – could be a sabotage by a disgruntle employee or a case of BYOD instance with a human error factor (a very common threat).  Provisions must be made to manage access levels and usage rights for all employees, to limit access to specific date only to authorized persons.

Understanding the potential threats and how they may affect your business in short and long term, should be your focus while implementing any security solution.

3.  Educate and train your workforce

When you know the status of your solutions, aware of the threats and have plans to respond to a cyber-incident, you still have to make sure your employees know it affects their work day, and what they need to do.

If you are experiencing an emergency, such as a data breach, and your staff is not sure how to deal with it right away, thinking of the cybersecurity audit is already too late.

You can even direct them to established protocols of Data Backup, Recovery, and Continuity Services, but critical time may be lost while they are trying to deal with figuring out their next step they have not been aware of before.

To avoid this scenario, you must educate every one of your employees on cybersecurity threats prevention and response.

Educate your employees on what to look out for and how to respond: a cyber incident response plan should incorporate the following details:

  • The types of vulnerabilities your SMB has;
  • How to recognize and look out for cyberthreats;
  • Where the employee can get additional information about cyberthreats and their prevention
  • What is the chain of contact for the employee that identified a threat
  • What is the expected timeline for the rectification
  • What are the rules and policies your company has about accessing data stored on secure servers;
  • What are the rules and policies for using external and personal devices (BYOD) for any purpose while accessing your business systems and network resources, including cloud-based solutions.

Remember, cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of your IT department or a Managed IT Services provider company. It’s an ongoing operation – “it takes a village” –  everybody within an organization must be continuously educated on threats and practice cybersecurity hygiene.

Your best defense against future attacks is a complex of IT security solutions, and your educated and vigilant employees.

Security Assessments and Audits Improve Security

Evaluate your security protocols, identify existing and potential issues and ensure that your SMB is in sync and up-to-the-minute on  protection against cyber threats. Otherwise your business takes the risk of of not being able to protect itself against constantly growing attacks.

However, your security measures should be assessed and addressed on a regular basis. They require timely updates and re-examination to ensure their viability. If they no longer work for purposes you’ve implemented them for, more vulnerabilities will be up for an exploit by cyberthreats, and can negatively affect your organization.

And improved cybersecurity keeps your business environment stable and boosts confidence among your employees and our customers .

Consider a cybersecurity audit for your SMB. If you are not sure about doing it efficiently correctly by yourself, we can help. Let’s have a quick, 15-minute, no-obligation talk about your business cybersecurity needs, and learn how we can improve your state of IT, guaranteed!

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Call us now at
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IT Support NJ - Reputable highly rated Small Business IT services and tech support company in New Jersey - powersolution industry awards
IT support NJ - Reputable highly rated Small Business IT services and tech support company in New Jersey - powersolution IT industry awards
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