Wed, Oct 7, 2020 •8 min read
In the IT industry, software engineers are always preparing themselves against security breaches and attacks. Such a scenario may result in data loss, downtime as business operations shut down, and - perhaps worst of all - massive damage to a company's reputation.
Security breaches and data leaks are serious risks no business can afford. They cause irreparable damages to financial resources, business competitiveness, and trustworthiness. According to the Information Systems Security Association, we saw a 63% increase in cyberattacks related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
How can you ensure that your IT infrastructure and applications offer optimal security against cybersecurity threats? Carrying out an IT security audit is an excellent measure. An increasing number of companies employ external agencies for carrying out IT security audits because they offer highly skilled professionals able to take an objective look at a company's security measures.
Why outsourcing a security audit is a good idea? Here are the key benefits of IT security audits.
An IT security audit delivers an in-depth assessment of the company's IT infrastructure, applications, and personnel roles. An audit can cover a vast range of areas - from resource planning and database management to network vulnerabilities and core areas of your business. Auditors often use specialized tools that scan the IT system in search from typical vulnerabilities. That's why it's such a great method for preventing cybercrime and dealing with security loopholes.
Typically, auditors carry out staff interviews, vulnerability scans, and testing that assesses the company's security blueprint. Moreover, cybersecurity experts also offer plenty of insights for building strategic solutions that improve overall security.
Data is one of the most important assets businesses have today. But it's also an asset that requires excellent security controls, whether it's your internal business data or the sensitive data of your customers.
IT security auditors can identify the type of data you have and see how it flows in and out of your organization. They will also check who has access to the data and why. All of the technologies and processes related to data that could cause data leaks are to be reviewed to ensure that no data is misused, stolen, or lost. If that happens, your business might get punished for noncompliance or even get into legal disputes with customers or other affected parties.
Moreover, the auditing team can also prepare the foundation for improvements or enforcement of new policies required in the area of data and database management.
IT systems are vast and complex. Most of the time, they include several components, such as software, hardware, data, and procedures.
An experienced IT security auditing team can identify any potential issues in your system in a number of ways. For example, the team checks whether your hardware and software tools are configured properly. Team members often retrace security incidents from the past that could have exposed your security's weak points. An on-site audit also consists of carrying out scans on operating systems, access controls, security applications, and network vulnerability.
All in all, a security audit offers a detailed assessment of your security measures – it's an excellent starting point for dealing with problematic areas and preventing potential vulnerabilities from becoming the source of attacks.
The auditing process usually begins with a pre-audit where the team gets relevant documentation about previously carried out audits, as well as copies of your current security policies and procedures.
The idea is to analyze and test your entire system, but also keep in mind the security policies and standards that are in force.
Throughout the process, the team will document everything they discovered regarding the security and effectiveness of your policies. You can be sure that by the time the audit is completed, you will get a clear assessment of whether your security measures are adequate and consistently implemented within your company.
For example, the auditing team might discover instances of unauthorized wireless networks that may pose risks that are beyond the levels acceptable to your organization.
Another benefit of an external IT security audit is that you finally get an objective look into the particular technologies you're using to see whether they address the level of security your business demands.
Depending on the sector in which you operate, these demands might be more or less strict. That's why it's critical for the auditing team to help you understand how to pick the right security tools for your organization. Auditors determine whether you need to use special software for each risk area or a centralized set of security solutions across the entire system.
Security experts will also provide you with advice on cost optimization, checking whether you're underspending or overspending on your security solutions. The idea is to allocate your security resources in areas that require it. For example, the team will try to look for a structure that matches your needs and can be used on multiple occasions.
After in an IT security audit, you can be sure that all of your resources are properly spent and that you're not going over budget for security measures that don't make a big difference.
A security audit allows identifying vulnerabilities on your network and devices. For example, auditors may take a closer look at user accounts, devices that are part of your network, passwords, as well as applications and programs that can access the network.
Perhaps some employees left your company, and their accounts still need to be closed so that they no longer have access to company data? Maybe there are some unknown devices like smartphones or tablets that have access to your network? Is your password policy good enough to ensure that all passwords are strong and changed at regular intervals? Is that policy implemented successfully? Are any applications in use potentially dangerous? The auditing team will give your answers to all of those questions.
At the end of a security audit, the team will deliver a detailed report covering all of the activities undertaken, as well as their results, insights, and recommendations for improvement. The report usually covers an overview of the security measures applied at your company, as well as the auditing team's verification of whether they match the desired security level or not.
We have delivered security audits to organizations looking to increase the security of their web applications, cloud computing accounts, application backends, and DevOps processes. We believe that proper security can only be achieved when an external company takes over the task of assessing the security measures implemented at a company.
Here are some example recommendations we delivered to a company that asked us to audit the question of general organization network access:
Use of the VPN - all the company resources should be available behind a VPN. This part of the implementation may be costly because of data transfer fees, so it's recommended only for organizations with appropriate resources. However, the security benefits of the VPN are significant and should be considered.
SAML provider for controlling access to a company's internal systems – using a SAML provider such as Microsoft Active Directory or Okta is a smart move. That way, the organization can control all of the access points in one place. When someone leaves the organization, there is no risk of overlooking to remove some access and risk compromising the company's security.
Password policy - passwords that aren’t changed on a regular basis can become significant attack vectors, so it’s essential to develop a policy that states how to create passwords and how often they need to be changed.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) - a security policy should require authentication with a password, as well as a code (sent via SMS or Google Authenticator).
Have in mind that a strong information security program provides a strategic roadmap for your system's safe and secure growth.
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