A financial audit helps highlight poor practices, loopholes, and discrepancies in an organization’s financial dealing. Similarly, a cybersecurity audit lets companies find their digital vulnerabilities and deal with online threats. A cybersecurity audit entails a detailed inspection and review of its IT infrastructure.
Cybersecurity audits don’t follow a particular preset pattern. Seasoned security experts come up with customized cybersecurity audits while keeping in mind the unique nature of the businesses they assess. For instance, a bank’s cybersecurity audit will be different from the audit of an e-commerce store. Nonetheless, a holistic cybersecurity audit consists of the following components.
Components of Cybersecurity Audit
These six elements are considered essential in a cybersecurity audit.
1. Assessment of Breach Response and Remediation Action Plan
Every organization with substantial digital and IT infrastructure needs to have a breach response and remediation action plan in place. These plans ensure that the organization can respond to cyber attacks while incurring minimal damage and downtime. Cybersecurity audit specialists review those breach response and remediation plans in light of the latest cyber threats.
After reviewing the plans, they make recommendations regarding improvements and updates if the breach and remediation plans don’t meet the contemporary standards.
2. Assessment of Cyber Resilience
Cyber resilience is an extension of breach response and remediation. It is an evolving concept that tells how an organization can continue to operate and deliver intended outcomes despite facing and undergoing cyber attacks. Cybersecurity audit also reviews this ability of a business.
3. Assessment of Staff Training and Awareness
Most cyber attacks happen and succeed due to human errors. Therefore, an organization must keep its employees trained and updated on using the organization’s IT infrastructure without putting it into jeopardy. Cyber audit specialists also see if the staff training protocols address the latest threat prevention requirements.
4. Configuration and Compliance Checks
Cybersecurity auditing also checks how the organization configures all the hardware and software components of its IT infrastructure. Moreover, if an organization has to meet certain industry-standard cyber compliance measures, a cybersecurity audit can tell if it is fulfilling these requirements.
5. Data Back-up Review
Data has become a valuable virtual commodity, which is why most cyber attacks aim to steal it. As per statistics, 3,800 large-scale organization-level cyber attacks in 2019 were data breaches. Data backups take the edge off such attacks. Cybersecurity audit inspects how an organization maintains its backups and if they can hold out a cyber attack.
6. Malware Detection Test
Organizations use purpose-built firewalls and antivirus software applications for malware detection. Cybersecurity auditing tests how well the detection regiment of an organization works for the latest malware codes lingering in cyberspace.
Is Cybersecurity Audit All that Important?
It is an important question to answer when you consider cyber auditing of your business’s IT infrastructure. However, many organizations don’t have the right answer to this question for various reasons. More organizations consider their hardware and software systems secure until a cyber attack hits them. Moreover, it is a general assumption that cybersecurity is just the IT department’s responsibility and not all workers.
When an organization dispels these two misconceptions, it can understand that a cybersecurity baseline can’t be formed without an audit.
When Is the Right Time to Have a Cybersecurity Audit Done?
Once you realize and acknowledge the importance of cybersecurity, you need to determine when is the right time to get it done. Usually, cybersecurity specialists run two types of audits: routine and special.
An organization has to run routine audits to remain on top of its cybersecurity. Routine cybersecurity audits usually consist of automated assessment of checklists by the organization’s in-house IT specialists. SMEs that don’t have in-house IT departments can hire third-party cybersecurity specialists. These routine audits can be monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, and annually. Mostly, the gap between two routine audits depends on the CTO or IT manager’s discretion and the nature of the organization.
For instance, the online banking division of a big bank may need monthly cybersecurity audits. On the other hand, an annual routine audit will be sufficient for a college’s IT network. However, an organization should have its IT infrastructure audited at least once a year irrespective of its business nature.
Special cybersecurity audits are usually conducted when an organization has undergone an adverse cyber event (data breach, ransomware attack, etc.) or any other development. They are also conducted to focus on a particular element/component of the digital infrastructure. Usually, in-house IT teams and external cybersecurity specialists team up and carry out special audits.
Instances When Special Audits Are Done
- Digital transformation within the company and implementation of new systems
- Addition or change to digital and cyber compliance directives
- Significant upscaling of the business
- Business merger or acquisition
- Security incidents and breaches
Is It Necessary to Outsource Cybersecurity Audits?
No, it is not necessary to outsource cybersecurity audits. If you have an in-house IT team, it can manage audits on its own. But practically speaking, IT teams already have too much on their plate. They usually don’t have the time to run complex, in-depth assessments of each IT infrastructure element. In this context, it is always better to hire third-party cybersecurity specialists who have ample auditing experience for various businesses and organizations.
Also, when running a small-to-medium scale enterprise with a fluid IT team, you don’t have any other option but to assign the task to someone who can inspect your digital infrastructure and make the right recommendations for setting up security benchmarks.
Microsys can prove to be a great 3rd-party partner for managing the cybersecurity audits of your organization. Our experts have years of experience in running cybersecurity audits for small and medium-scale enterprises across various industries. We can fully help you with IT-related audits if you have an understaffed IT team or no team at all.