To succeed in today’s competitive global marketplace, businesses must take information security seriously. Lost or compromised data, extensive downtime and a damaged reputation are just some of the short-term effects of a cyberattack. Performing regular IT security audits are your best bet in securing your sensitive data and future-proofing your business.
Information technology audits ensure your network is compliant and your data safe from cybersecurity threats. IT security audits can make the difference between a safe, successful company and one brought down by a data security breach.
Today we’ll go over how an IT audit works, the benefits of the IT audit process and four types of IT audits to help keep your company safe.
What is an IT Security Audit?
An IT security audit is a review of your business’s IT infrastructure, including its systems, management, applications, data use and other processes. An information technology audit evaluates the overall operation and safety of your network. It identifies potential vulnerabilities and suggests improvements for greater efficiency and improved cybersecurity.
The purpose of the IT audit process is to determine if your IT infrastructure properly secures your business’s assets while ensuring data integrity and aligning with your organization’s goals. An IT security audit examines your physical security, financial investment, cybersecurity training, regulatory compliance and more. It keeps your company ahead of external (and internal) threats, data breaches and other cyberattacks that can put your business at risk.
Benefits of an IT Audit Process
As your organization invests in more advanced technology, you must make information security a higher priority. IT audit planning can ensure proper network safety, risk management and data integrity across your systems, giving you protection and peace of mind.
Here are five benefits of performing an IT security audit:
1. Verifying Security Training Effectiveness
Is your IT staff adequately trained to manage established security measures? To fully assess your organization’s IT security risk, a certified information systems auditor uses various tests and server modifications to evaluate your current processes.
This process summarizes how effective your cybersecurity standards are. Internal audits can also give you insight into whether your cybersecurity training has effectively improved your network and information safety.
2. Discovering Hardware and Software Gaps and Overlaps
Shadow IT (also called rogue or stealth IT) is a common occurrence for businesses. Shadow IT refers to using any device, application or technology without the approval or knowledge of your IT department. This can include hardware, software, cloud applications and web services.
An information technology audit report can identify redundancies and gaps in your IT security. For example, your company uses Zoom as its video conferencing software, but an employee downloads Skype to join a meeting with a third-party contractor. Although these applications are usually harmless, features like file sharing, storage and collaboration could put your company’s sensitive data at risk.
3. Reducing Expenses
Because the IT audit process is so comprehensive, it can help you discover precisely which services you need and which ones you can eliminate to save money. An IT audit can also help you identify outdated systems and tools so you can upgrade to more efficient options.
4. Ensuring IT Compliance
An IT audit can also inform you about your company’s adherence to IT compliance regulations, like GDPR, HIPAA and PCI-DSS. Audit reports generated after your evaluation can show you any areas that need better compliance adherence so you can avoid costly legal issues and fines.
5. Checking for Proper Tool Use
Performing an IT audit can help you determine if you’re investing in the right system for your business. It evaluates if your system functions efficiently and meets your company’s business objectives. If there’s something wrong with your system, the IT auditor can recommend changes to improve your overall information security.
4 Types of IT Security Audits
If you want to perform a more specific IT security audit, below are four common types of security evaluations:
1. Vulnerability Tests
A vulnerability is a weakness or loophole in your system’s design, security controls, implementation or internal controls that can result in attacks on your system or network.
Vulnerability tests evaluate security risks in software systems to minimize threat potential and reduce the risk of hackers gaining unauthorized access to your systems.
2. Penetration Tests
Penetration tests attempt to breach your existing security by simulating various methods of cyberattacks and social engineering experiments. An experienced tester can try to create disruptive conditions like sending an email with malware or attempt to convince an employee to make unauthorized system changes.
These methods help identify weak links in antivirus software and training.
3. Risk Assessments
Risk assessments identify, estimate, and prioritize risk to assets, operations, and individuals that result from using information systems. Once appropriate risk levels are identified, stakeholders can determine what investments they are willing to make to reduce or eliminate those risks.
Investments can include financial expenditures for expanded infrastructure, increased training efforts or outsourced support expertise.
4. Compliance Audits
Every business has compliance measures they must follow to remain in business legally.
Compliance audits assess whether your business adheres to those required standards. These audits usually show pass/fail results when measurements are tested against your actual business practices.
IT Audit Checklist
There is no “one size fits all” IT security audit. The IT needs of your business are unique, so your IT audits should be also. Here is a checklist of what your IT audit process might include:
Documenting your current security policies and procedures
Evaluating if your IT staff have performed established security policies and procedures
Analyzing security patches and software updates
Identifying any vulnerabilities in your existing firewall
Implementing encryption best practices
Checking who has access to sensitive data and where this data is stored
Determining if file activity and data auditing is insufficient or nonexistent
Updating and testing disaster recovery plans and incident response plans
Verifying the security of all of your wireless networks
Conducting a scan to identify every network access point
Partner With SugarShot: IT Security Audit Professionals
A successful IT audit will give you the information you need to ensure that your IT infrastructure is well protected against threats and compliant with industry regulations.
At SugarShot, we help businesses make sense of their technology with a holistic IT audit. Instead of just resolving short-term technology problems, we take a deep dive into your systems to identify potential vulnerabilities and design a clear technology roadmap to get you where you want to go.
Contact us today to learn more about how our IT security experts can help you improve your IT infrastructure with a comprehensive IT audit.