Every business leader has heard of an audit but not everyone may be familiar with cybersecurity audits. Like other types of auditing, a cybersecurity audit looks at how secure your business data is from both a digital and physical standpoint. It also examines everything from IT to staff and ongoing training.
Cybersecurity audits can be a huge undertaking, especially if one has never been conducted before. ORAM Corporate Advisors has compiled a list of everything you need to know about cybersecurity audits and how they benefit your business.
What Is a Cybersecurity Audit?
A cybersecurity audit is an all-inclusive look at your organization’s security policies, procedures, technology, staff, training, and much more. The purpose is to create a checklist your company can use to validate its security policies and procedures while shoring up holes in its data security. Through regular cybersecurity audits, businesses can assess whether they have the proper security mechanisms in place, both digital and physical while ensuring compliance with applicable regulations.
All organizations that collect, process, and maintain information from personally identifiable information (PII) to payment information, should undergo an annual cybersecurity audit to ensure they have the best protection in place. Cybersecurity audits should be conducted across all organizations regardless of the number of offices or employees they have.
IT and Security Teams
Cybersecurity audits will also take into account the IT infrastructure and who is responsible for both IT and security within your organization. Is it someone within your company or is it a third-party vendor such as ORAM?
When conducting a cybersecurity audit, it’s necessary to also look at the size of your IT and security team(s). For example, if one person manages it all in a smaller business setting, the audit will be conducted differently than if you have thousands of employees. This is because each employee with access is another vector for a potential attack. This is also true if you have business partners or work with other organizations that have access to your data or if you utilize third-party vendors for outside services who may have not only digital access to your business information but physical access.
During a cybersecurity audit, the professionals at ORAM also look at the location of data centers such as on-site servers (physical), cloud services (virtual), and even storage areas like closets and file cabinets where hard copies of information are stored. We determine how accessible your data is and make recommendations to best protect your business information both physically and digitally.
Another consideration is mobile devices used by employees for work. When it comes to such devices, we ask many questions to determine not only the security of data but accessibility to proprietary information. For example, are employees or contractors provided laptops, cellular phones, tablets, etc.? If so, who has access to them and what access do each of those devices provide?
As for mobile devices, we also look at what confidential data is on them. We investigate if the information on those devices is backed up and if it synchs with data stored elsewhere. Does the company have access to the information on those devices? What personal devices, bring your own device (BYOD), are employees and contractors permitted to use when accessing company data? What security is used on each device to prevent a breach and secure data? When on your physical premises, are users allowed to connect remotely using a virtual private network (VPN) or other methods such as a remote desktop protocol (RDP)?
Taking a Look at Tech
During a cybersecurity audit, ORAM will look at the technology your company employs. We look at a variety of programs including, but not limited to, the following:
- Office 365
- SharePoint On-Premises
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Google Docs
- Financial/Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
By looking at these programs, we can identify anything that’s out of date or needs patches or upgrades due to vulnerabilities. We can recommend actions that will allow updates to occur regularly to improve data security. This also allows us to provide recommendations for better programs to assist your business. Some may even be more cost-effective than what you currently have in place.
Budgeting and Prioritizing
Through a cybersecurity audit, you can identify what your business really needs in a prioritized fashion. This means you can properly budget for your IT and cybersecurity needs in the coming year. If you don’t know where security weaknesses exist, how can they be properly addressed to shore up data security?
Additionally, a cybersecurity audit can help identify whether your staffing meets your existing and immediate future needs for IT and security. At ORAM, we recommend every business conduct an annual cybersecurity audit to address changes to technology and cybersecurity methods to meet the demands of the ever-changing threat environment.
Many industries from healthcare to manufacturing are required to meet certain cybersecurity criteria in order to remain compliant with government regulations. For example, all Department of Defense (DoD) and National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) contractors are required to meet the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation (DFAR). Without regulation compliance, contractors could lose existing and future government contracts, be fined, or be levied with criminal charges should top-secret data be disclosed, accidentally or otherwise.
By conducting a regular cybersecurity assessment, businesses can move toward, achieve, and sustain regulatory compliance. Other regulations where a cybersecurity audit can assist with compliance include, but are not limited to, the:
- California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018
- GLBA (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act)
- NYDFS Cybersecurity Regulations
- PCI DSS
- Single Audit Compliance
- SOC 1/SSAE 18 (f.k.a SSAE 16)
- SOC 2
- SOX (Sarbanes Oxley Act)
In addition to technology, a cybersecurity audit examines IT security controls. Our auditors determine if your organization is employing two-factor authentication, an effective antivirus program, daily data backup, and what firewalls are in place. We also look at whether you have cyber insurance in place and if it’s enough to cover any issues with a breach or data loss.
When you conduct a cybersecurity audit, your formal incident response plan, written information security plan (WISP), formal IT security policies and procedures, and your intrusion prevention system are examined as part of your organization’s complete cybersecurity plan. Furthermore, hard disc encryption for laptops, password requirements, and patching practices (both automated OS patching on personal computers and quarterly OS patching for your servers) are examined. Spam filtering solutions, vulnerability assessments, and penetration testing are also taken into consideration as is whether your company provides ongoing security training to every employee.
Finally, one of the last components a cybersecurity audit examines is the history of attacks or cyber incidents that have impacted your company over the last five years. The third-party conducting your cybersecurity assessment will look at the losses and impacts of:
- Ransomware Attacks
- Data Loss Due to Phishing Email
- Outage Due to Denial of Service (DDoS Attacks)
- Loss of Laptops/USBs with Data
- Other Security Incidents (Digital or Physical)
For more information about cybersecurity audits or to schedule one for your organization, contact ORAM Corporate Advisors online or call (617) 933-5060. We offer a free initial consultation and a no-obligation quote.