In today’s digital environment, security threats are numerous and constantly evolving. As a result, organizations that want to protect sensitive data need robust security practices and policies.
Security audits are an essential part of regulatory requirements in many industries. In addition, a security audit is an excellent way for businesses to identify vulnerabilities and security threats.
Every organization with digital assets should conduct security audits. A data breach can have devastating effects on your business and brand reputation.
This post will explain everything your organization needs to know about security audits. We will explain what a security audit is, the different types of security audits, what a full security audit typically covers, and why security audits are essential.
What Is an IT Security Audit?
An IT security audit is a thorough examination and evaluation of an organization’s information system. Typically, a security audit measures the subject information system against an established set of security policies, external regulations, and best practices.
A thorough IT security audit will scrutinize not only the software, hardware, and physical environment of an information system but also user practices and data handling processes.
Security audits are often used to ensure compliance with important data security regulatory policies like HIPAA or the California Security Breach Information Act.
Organizations don’t solely rely on security audits to alleviate security concerns. In tandem with an IT security audit, businesses will also run vulnerability assessments and penetration tests.
Companies that want to ensure data security should create an IT security audit plan that is easy to repeat and update as security controls, and security risks evolve.
The Different Types of Security Audits
There are two types of IT security audits, internal and external. It is essential to understand each type of audit, so your business can optimize the audit process and plan for future audits.
Internal security audits are conducted within your organization by an audit team. Generally, organizations will use an internal audit team to validate business operations and systems for policy and procedure compliance.
An external audit is conducted by security teams outside of your organization. Typically, external security audits are performed to ensure that your organization’s network, security controls, and IT infrastructure conform to government regulations or industry standards.
There are two types of external security audits, second and third-party. Second-party security audits are conducted by a partner or supplier of the company being audited. Third-party security audits are conducted by independent auditors with no affiliation to the company.
What Does a Full Security Audit Cover?
During an IT security audit, every system an organization uses should be examined and tested for vulnerabilities. The key areas that will be examined during routine audits include the following:
- Security controls
- Software systems
- Network vulnerabilities
- Physical components
One of the most critical facets of an IT security audit is the security policies and controls your organization has in place. The biggest threat to sensitive data is user mismanagement.
The security audit will look at user permissions, check how user access to data is handled, review established security procedures, and gauge how well security policies have been implemented.
Before penetration testing the entire network and looking for new vulnerabilities in the code, a security audit should review the policies and procedures already in place.
A security audit of software systems ensures that the proper security measures are in place and that the software is functioning correctly and delivering accurate information.
A critical component of this stage of the security audit is ensuring user access controls are functioning correctly. Unauthorized access to data can lead to significant issues for your organization.
In addition, while software systems are being audited, the software development process will be reviewed to ensure vulnerabilities are not being introduced in the code, data processing functions will be checked, and computer systems will be analyzed.
Auditors look for potential vulnerabilities in system network components that attackers could exploit. For example, data traveling between two points are particularly vulnerable to attacks.
A security audit will review network traffic, such as emails, messages, files, and other communications. Network access points and availability are also facets that will be closely analyzed in a security audit.
During this portion of the audit, auditors will use penetration testing to mimic real-world attacks and think like an attacker.
Finally, a security audit includes the physical hardware and the environment that houses the information system. Issues in the environment or with the hardware can cause vulnerabilities, and it is vital to find them before they can be exploited.
A comprehensive security audit should review all hardware being used and thoroughly understand the organization’s IT environment to ensure it is secure.
The Importance of Security Audits
The value of security should be obvious. You can’t ensure your organization adequately protects its systems and data without robust security audits. From an IT security perspective, the importance of security audits is simple to understand.
However, security audits are valuable for other reasons too. For example, security audits establish an operational baseline that can also be used to compare future security audits. Therefore, setting a standard and working toward maintaining it is crucial.
Security audits are necessary because they show organizations if their security training and policies are adequate. Human error is one of the most common ways attackers get into and exploit an IT system.
Therefore, security training should be a priority for every organization to ensure that employees are armed with the information they need to make intelligent decisions and secure the data they can access. In addition, security audits will show your business how successful its efforts have been.
Security audits are also valuable because they help organizations identify unnecessary resources. Organizations can use this information to reduce costs and reinvest idle resources more actively and efficiently.
Security audits are critical to the success of any organization. A security breach can have untold consequences for your business and reputation. So be proactive and use security audits to stay ahead of threats.
To learn more about security audits, contact a skilled development and testing partner like Koombea.