What is Cyber Security Audit? Why/How is it Important for your Business

What is Cyber Security Audit? Why/How is it Important for your Business. Cyber security has become a pressing issue across global organizations, making it necessary to have robust auditing strategies to help companies and provide assurance to the board of directors and senior management.

A cyber security audit is simply an evaluation of controls and systems in place to ensure the smooth functioning of cyber security activities. The goal is to evaluate current policies, procedures and technologies at an extensive level. It determines if all the applicable parameters of regulations and standards are being met efficiently and effectively. Before we understand the intricacies of the cyber security audit, let us know what cyber security is.

Let’s start with What is Cyber Security Audit? Why/How is it Important for your Business.

What is Cyber Security?

Th term Cyber security has been used as a broad term by the media to describe the process of protecting online assets, especially crucial data, from any form of cybercrime. But what is the true cyber security meaning for those with proper knowledge or experience in the digital industry?

In simple terms, cyber security is the field of information that helps enterprises and businesses defend their machines, devices and services from electronic attacks by hackers, spammers and cybercriminals. The defence mechanism is for protection against ransomware attacks, identity thefts, phishing schemes, data breaches and financial losses.

Some cyber security components are meant to work before the cybercrime occurs. But most focus on determining the best way to defend the assets (including computers, smartphones, networks, and databases) from attacks.

Hence, cyber security discusses technologies, practices and processes. They are designed to shield programs, networks, devices and data from damage, attack, or unauthorized access. Cyber security is also popular as information technology security.

What is Cyber Security Audit?

An independent and systematic evaluation of a company’s cyber security policies comprises a cyber security audit. Through an audit, you ensure that the proper security procedures, policies, and controls are working effectively and all are in place.

Every organization would have several cyber security policies in place. The idea of a cyber security audit is to provide you with a checklist to validate your controls and check if the security policies are working as per your expectations.

Through cyber security audits, you help your organization avoid cyber threats. The audit identifies and examines your security to reveal any vulnerabilities or weaknesses a possible bad actor could exploit.

Why is Cyber Security Audit Necessary?

What are the common issues a company might fall into with cyber security safety? Is a presumption that the security are managed and maintained through standard risk assessments.

This can cause significant company issues. So cyber security assessment is crucial for determining why and how you use certain technology within your business.

Cyber Security Parameters

A cyber security audit allows you to create parameters and goals which give you a chance to:

  • Follow the Rules, Regulations and Standards – When you audit your cyber security policies, you will know if your cyber security solutions are adhering to all the standards laid down by the organization or not. Additionally, you will also know about adherence to obligatory external regulations.
  • Set Security Standards – Your cyber security audit will enable you to understand your security principles and how they will be used and communicated to everyone within the organization.
  • Plug Gaps – Audit always highlights the gaps in processes. On the same lines, a cyber security audit will pinpoint any issues in your security solutions. You can rectify the gaps by identifying how your existing solutions are performing and improving your current system.

Cyber security audits are useful if you want to understand if your present cyber infrastructure is working efficiently or if you are preparing for a professional external audit. As reported by idtheftcenter.org, quarter one of 2022 saw a 14% increase in data breaches compared to quarter one of 2021. This has happened for three consecutive years when breaches have increased compared to the last year.

Ensure you undertake a full scale cyber security audit at fixed intervals every year. That way you can stay in line with all the latest cyber security technologies and help yourself by preventing any cybercrime.

What does a Cyber Security Audit Cover?

By now, you know that cyber security audit focuses on security guidelines, policies and standards. Additionally, it ensures that all security controls are enhanced, and all statutory regulations are met.

Specifically, a cyber security audit evaluates:

  • Operational security (a review of procedures, policies, and security controls)
  • Data security ( a review of network access control, encryption use and data security during storage and transmission)
  • System security (reviewing patching processes, role based access, hardening processes, managing privileged accounts, etc.)

A cyber security audit is a 360 degree in depth analysis of an organization’s complete security posture. It differs from a cyber security assessment which provides a snapshot of an organization’s security habits.

How is Cyber Security Audit Beneficial?

A cyber security audit is not about passing a compliance test. There are certain benefits that most businesses don’t consider when deciding the time for an audit. It would help if you did cyber audits at regular intervals. Besides saving money lost and reducing downtime in the event of a cyber attack, there are some extra benefits you can look forward to.

Ensure your data is protected

Several organizations make the mistake of assuming that their proprietary data is safe. By auditing your encryption use, network access control, transmissions and other highly sensitive activities, you ensure that the mechanisms used to protect against data breaches are doing their task. If you have never been a victim of cyber fraud, it does not mean you can guarantee risk free business forever. Systematic audits are the only way to ensure everything is in place.

View operational activity from a different perspective

While you are auditing your business for cyber security, you are also getting a glimpse of how the business is running. An in depth analysis of your infrastructure gives you a complete picture of the business’s security and ways to optimize the operations. An external audit gives you an even more unbiased perspective and an honest opinion about what could be improved.

Identify gaps in your cyber protection

When evaluating the best cyber security solution for your business, you need to consider the specific issues that require protection. Bringing such issues to the surface helps cover the coverage gaps and customizes an approach that best serves your needs.

Stay ahead of regulations

Regulations will forever stay. Data will drive our industries, and protecting that data will always be the primary objective. The more you wait to look at your cyber security systems, the more you will fall behind on the policies that safeguard your business, not just your security threats. Compliance penalties can make you pay hefty fines that cut your bottom line.

Use recommendations to improve

An external audit will always allow you to get an expert and fresh eye on the business’s entirety. The unbiased scrutiny, coupled with your willingness to consider objective analysis, takes the weight off the intricacies of your cyber security needs. An expert auditor does this for you and gives compliant recommendations that protect your business from specific threats and helps you improve.

How Often Do You Need Cyber Security Audits?

How often you perform cyber security audits depends on what security framework or compliance your business follows.

FISMA, for instance, requires federal agencies to have audits twice a year. All companies working with federal agencies must comply with FISMA. Failure to comply with cyber security assessment laws can result in penalties and fines.

There are compliance regulations that require annual audits. Some require no audits at all. The frequency of your cyber security audits depends on the type of data your company works with, your industry, the legal guidelines you must follow, etc.

Having said that, even if your company is not required to perform an audit, most security experts recommend at least an annual audit to ensure your controls are functioning as per guidelines.

Cyber Security Audit Checklist

Your cyber security audit checklist will depend on your industry, compliance framework, and size. Hence, every organization will have a different audit checklist.

What are the basic guidelines that every audit should include?

  • Inventory and control of software and hardware assets.
  • Continuous vulnerability management.
  • Secure configuration for software and hardware on laptops, mobile devices, servers, and workstations.
  • Controlled use of administrative privileges.
  • Email and web browser protection.
  • Monitoring, maintenance and analysis of audit logs.
  • Malware defences.
  • Limitation and control of protocols, network ports and servers.

The above checklist is not exhaustive but a beginner guide to ensuring basic security controls that are effective. If you have yet to have these cyber security controls in place, then you need not worry. Cyber security is a marathon and not a sprint.

How To Perform a Detailed Cyber Security Audit: External vs Internal

There are many ways to collate data for cyber security audits. However, you will first have to decide if you want to do an external or an internal audit.

External Audit

In the case of external auditors, they can bring a wide range of experience and knowledge to the table. That enables to identify security breaches and flaws in your cyber security system.

Having said that, external auditors can be pricey, and identifying them with the requisite qualification and experience is by no means an easy task.

The success of your cyber security audit will depend on how well you can communicate with your auditor. If your auditor is not given proper access to data that he requires immediately, your audit will take longer to complete. Which, in turn, would increase the cost and could produce incorrect results.

All these factors make external audits more of a luxury than a necessity. It is why large corporations consider external cyber security audits an ongoing expense.

Internal Audit

On the contrary, internal cyber security audits are a much more realistic option for medium and small enterprises. You are already aware of the company guidelines and processes. So then you can collect the data you need without interrupting the working patterns It is something that external cyber security auditors do not have an advantage about.

Thank you for reading What is Cyber Security Audit? – and Why/How is it Important for your Business. We shall conclude. 

What is Cyber Security Audit? Why/How is it Important for your Business Conclusion

This article provides you with all the know how on why a cyber security audit is necessary and how to conduct it. However, you should keep in mind that internal reviews are an ongoing process and not a one time activity.

Your first audit will set the standard for all future audits. This way, you can measure what worked for your company’s cyber security protection and where improvement is needed.

By regularly updating your processes and investing in the latest technology, you can develop a culture that drives home the impact of cyber security and highlights the dangers of not implementing appropriate cyber security audits.

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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