Guide To Performing A Basic IT Security Audit
Technology is a business necessity in the modern corporate world. A large amounts of information are stored electronically,
processed digitally and transmitted over IT networks which means that critical business processes heavily depend on the optimum performance of the technologies used.
Ensuring that the company’s IT infrastructure is protected from external
and internal threats is one of the most critical performance criteria. Security threats such as data breach, data loss,etc..
and system failure can be also cause a critical harm and disastrous consequences that can potentially affect client relationships, employee productivity and company finances.
Most small and medium businesses often disregard IT security audits thinking that they are not in danger of Cyber attacks.
However, SMB’s are actually becoming a primary target due to the supposition that they do not have a highly developed IT infrastructure to respond to these attacks, making it easier for hackers to penetrate their systems.
In order to reduce these risks, annual audits can be commissioned through specialist IT security firms.
However, the success of internal simple audits on a regular basis can also greatly support SMBs.besides, only through regular audits will companies be able to correctly measure if their IT systems are effective and up to date.
A simple guide on how to perform a basic IT security audit for a small to medium business.
Identify Business Assets
Determining the different properties that an organization holds and
owns is the first step in performing an audit. This makes it easier to map out the scope of the audit and ensure that nothing is condoned.
Create a checklist of what the business owns
All valuable assets of the company requiring protection should be identified by the IT auditor or the individual performing the audit. Examples of items to be included in the master list are:
- Hardware and Equipment including but not limited to computers, laptops, servers, hard drives, modems, printers, phone systems, mobile devices, etc.
- Software, online tools, and apps including email servers, cloud storage, data management systems, financial accounting systems, payment gateways, websites, social media accounts, etc.
- Files and data storage systems including company finance details, customer databases, product information, confidential documents, intellectual property, etc.
- Existing IT Security Software and Procedures
Prioritise assets based on importance
The next move should be to prioritize the assets based on how important they are to the company once the master list is established.
One of the requirements for determining what should be at the top of the list is to take into consideration how great an impact the organization could encounter if these assets are impacted by an issue.
Schedule the audit
The audit should be arranged accordingly, based on the priority list. In the event of access and activities having to be disrupted, managers and personnel should be aware of the expected dates.
Customers and clients who use such assets, such as websites or applications, should also be notified in advance of any downtime.
If, for example, a corporation owns a publishing website that relies on user-generated content that is automatically uploaded to its servers,
In order to warn prospective users that they will not be able to upload any content for a certain time span, a notice should be placed on the web.
Recognise Risks and Threats
After creating a list of assets and defining the scope of the analysis, the IT auditor should identify the possible risks and threats that the organization will face.
These risks and threats are the variables against which the audit should be checked in order to ensure that security measures are well enforced.
These risks and threats can include:
These risks and threats can include:
- Hardware and equipment failure
- PC viruses, malware, phishing, ransomware and hacking attacks
- Natural disasters such as fire, flood, and earthquake
- Theft of physical property or equipment
- Data Loss
- Unauthorised access
Identify Audit Techniques
Before performing the on-site evaluation, the IT auditor should set audit techniques that will be utilised to do the review. These techniques can include:
- Technical examinations including physical performance testing, monitoring and scanning through software
- Visual inspection of location, placement, and physical condition of the hardware
- Observation and analysis of assets in relation to threats and risks
- Questionnaires and in-person interviews to determine compliance to security protocols, password practises, and access control to data and accounts
Identify Audit Techniques
This is when the actual audit takes place. All Previous measures should be prepared by the IT auditor to carry out an accurate analysis of the properties. It is also essential to determine, if any, current security protocols during this time span.
An example of an evaluation scheme is below:
- Highly Secure, no further actions needed
- IT Security Deficiency Identified, actions implemented
- IT Security Deficiency Identified, with recommended actions for further implementation
While the audit is ongoing, the IT auditor should use his preferred evaluation scheme to note down the results of the tests, Both steps taken before the audit, as well as any more action needs to be taken after the audit.
There are times when quick resolutions should be executed instantly, such as reinstalling obsolete antivirus software or restricting access controls.
However, there are also options that can be more time-consuming, such as
data backup, or may require the procurement of new assets to be introduced. Diligently noting his results would make it easier for him
to recall these information while drawing up a post-audit report.
This is the next
step in the process.
Report and Recommendations
The final yet most critical component of the IT security audit is the preparation of the audit report. This will contain the specifics of the assessments as well as the suggested action plans to be taken. This study would conclude what needs to be addressed, revised and updated in order to meet industry safety requirements.
The IT auditor should write down the security gaps he found in the production
of the report, with probable cause and specific suggestions about how to fix the problem.
If not immediately rectified, it should also show
the possible impacts that the issue would further produce.
For example, if a company suffers from repeated hardware failures such as printers or photocopiers always shutting down, this problem should be specified as the issue in its recommendation report.
Unanticipated electrical spikes or out-of-date equipment that is not compatible with the current office network may be possible triggers. He should then list the business implications, such as loss of productivity and project delays, caused by this IT problem.
Finally, he should review and determine an actionable suggestion such as the use of remote diagnostics as an immediate method of troubleshooting to reduce long downtime times or even completely buy new equipment.
Any corporation, large or small, is vulnerable to dangerous threats and cyber attacks that can cripple business operations. The survival of SMBs will rely on how quickly they can adjust to the new world that is continuously changing the face of business.
Getting a security-first mindset through the results of daily audits is a smart way to set up a safe IT environment and keep SMB prepared and ready to face up to the challenges.
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