Businesses often view data security audit as a stressful and intrusive process. Auditor walks
around distracting everybody and meddling in regular company operations. The usefulness of
conducting audits is also something up for a debate: aren’t regular risk assessment enough to
form security strategy and keep your data protected.
Planning, execution, analysis, reporting and follow-up are the basic elements of a network
security audit checklist. However, coordination among IT teams is also important.
Many organizations are at least reviewing system logs and occasionally monitoring network
traffic. That level of information is helpful but does not tell the whole story. If you want to gauge
the current condition of your network security, you must perform an in-depth network security
audit - also known as a vulnerability and penetration test or security assessment.
When deciding to do a self-audit you can either do it internally with your own resources or
contract an external auditor. In addition, the choice between the two is not as cut and dry as
one would think.
External auditors are great at what they do. They use a set of cyber security auditing software,
such as vulnerability scanners and bring their own vast experience to the table in order to
examine your security and find holes in it. However, the big drawback to them is that they are
not cheap, and finding the person with the necessary qualification and experience among the
sea of offers can be very hard.
In this context, network security audits are not audits of formal IT controls at the OS, application
and database levels. Instead, they are exercises in uncovering the security vulnerabilities on
your network with the hopes of resolving them before the bad people exploit them. It is
important not to confuse the various security testing terms.
Security audits are not one-time projects but a living document. The advances in technology and
changes in your business model create vulnerabilities in your information technology systems.
These advances and changes are dynamic. Therefore, to be effective your IT security also has to
evolve continuously. We will explain how to use this checklist for a successful IT security audit
towards the end of this blog.
For now, here are the steps for a successful IT Security Audit:
- Assess your current IT security state
- Identify vulnerabilities and prioritize improvement opportunities
- Describe the target state for your IT security
- Access your progress towards your desired IT security state