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The Importance of Conducting IT and Network Security Audits

Indeed, your business website is an asset, but it can also become your most significant vulnerability. That implies that your effort to promote your business online and generate traffic can go up in flames if you do not guard against IT security threats. The problem with network security risks is that there may be underlying issues you remain unaware of until you suffer damage. Identifying the improvements you need to make, as well as what is not working within your network infrastructure, is possible when you conduct a network security audit. That way, you can address issues proactively. And enhance productivity within your enterprise.

Additionally, the statistics regarding these risks are a cause of concern. And you cannot afford to overlook the importance of protecting your company’s network infrastructure. That is because such things as data breaches can have far-reaching effects on any organization. The bottom line here is that securing your office data and improving your IT processes is a challenge if you lack an overview of your IT infrastructure.

What is an IT Security Audit?

Testing and assessing your firm’s network security posture on various occasions is critical. A network security audit refers to a technical assessment of an entity’s IT infrastructure. Including applications, operating systems, among other things. Today, most organizations use digital platforms to collect and store data.

As such, prioritizing continuous reassessment of existing security systems to curb third-party attacks and future data breaches is not an option in this case. 

Types of IT Security Audits

Portfolio Assessment 

Establishing whether your current security procedures and processes are sufficient for the prevailing business climate and requirements is paramount. You also need to check whether your employees are adhering to these processes and procedures. That is achievable through portfolio assessment. This refers to the scheduled security audits you conduct annually, bi-annually, or after a defined period.

One-Time Assessment

Sometimes, auditing for special or ad-hoc situations or triggers in your operations may be necessary. And that is what a one-time assessment is all about. For instance, introducing new software within your enterprise will demand a battery of audits and tests beforehand. That allows you to identify the new risks you are introducing into your establishment.

Tollgate Assessment 

If you want to know whether you should introduce a new procedure or process into your environment or not, you need to conduct a tollgate assessment. It is a security audit that avails a binary outcome. The focus here is identifying aspects that may inhibit your progress, which goes beyond determining underlying risks.

IT Security Audit Focus Areas

Your network auditing process should include;

Network Security

It is worth mentioning that network security plays a significant role in the auditing process. As much as that is the case, some clients create detailed project scopes regarding cybersecurity, while others opt to touch on the same briefly.

Inventory Creation

Building an inventory of your existing network is the first thing you should do when commencing a network audit. That suggests that you need to prepare a record of all devices running on your network at every location. That should include both virtual and physical network infrastructure. Identifying the services and service providers at each location is also an essential part of the inventory creation procedure.

That entails identifying the network providers, telecom carriers, and ISPs you are using at each location and the rates, expiration, and pricing of each contract.

Network Architecture

Network engineers and architects have an opportunity to create network diagrams during the network architecture auditing process. Some of the tools these experts can use, in this case, include LANFlow, SolarWinds, Edraw Max, Intermapper, and Lucidchart, or they can also opt for Microsoft Visio.

The purpose of network diagrams is to define the different relationships and connections between devices and locations within a network. They act as a visual representation of your network infrastructure.

Identification of Obsolescence

Once you create a comprehensive inventory of your devices and services at every location, the next thing is identifying if there are devices that are obsolete, outdated, or nearing end-of-life. That includes such hardware like firewalls, routers, and switches. Support, software, versioning, and licenses can also be part of this network audit.

Businessman checking virtual digital data and performing a network security audit for his company,

The Importance of Conducting IT Security Audits

A standard network security audit begins with identifying risks, and the assessment of the design of controls follows after that. The final step is testing the effectiveness of these controls by auditors. Note that competent auditors can add value at every stage of the audit process, which will depend on the depth and quality of a technical audit. 

Here are some of the reasons why conducting a network security audit is paramount.

Enhances Security Governance

The board of directors and executives within your company bear the responsibility of ensuring adherence to IT governance. That focuses on the processes, leadership, and organizational structures that ensure that your firm’s IT sustains and extends the objectives and strategies you have in place. Also, improving the IT governance of your enterprise is possible through in-depth network penetration testing.

Mitigates Risk

Assessment and identification of IT risks are part and parcel of an IT audit’s planning and execution. The risks that IT audits address relate to the availability of information technology processes and infrastructure, IT reliability, integrity, efficiency, confidentiality, and effectiveness. So, if you want insight into the path you should take to transfer risk through insurance, you should assess underlying IT risks.

Ultimately, you can embrace a particular risk as part of your operating environment, or you can reduce its impact by implementing necessary controls. 

Facilitates Communication

Opening channels of communication between your business and technology management is possible through IT auditing. That is the case since IT auditors observe and test in reality and in practice occurrences. Eventually, this process yields valuable details in oral presentations or written reports. That means that senior management will receive direct feedback regarding the functioning of their enterprise.

Strengthens Controls and Improves Security

You can only assess and identify controls after an assessment of your IT security risks. If you discover that existing controls are poor or ineffective, you can strengthen and/or redesign them. Some of the frameworks that auditors use, in this case, are the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Tread way Commission (COSO) framework and COBIT. By doing so, auditors get assurance on;

  • Compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
  • Efficiency and effectiveness of operations.
  • Reliability of financial reporting.

Ensures Compliance with Regulations

There are specific requirements for information security, focusing on various regulations at the state and central levels. An IT auditor assesses risks, implements controls, and ensures that your organization meets all network security regulations.

The Risks of Failing to Conduct IT Security Audits

Failure to protect your company’s network results in exposure to several threats that can cost your business a fortune. Taking proactive action by adopting the necessary measures is the solution in this case. Conducting a network security audit allows you to identify issues requiring your attention so you can act before a situation escalates. So, what happens if you fail to conduct a network security audit? Below are details on what you can expect when that is the case.

You Remain in the Dark

Knowledge of what is happening within your network infrastructure promotes business continuity. You also need to appreciate that the sophistication of network security risks increases as technology evolves. So, allowing network security to fall through the cracks implies that you will only discover a problem when it is too late. Failing to conduct a network security audit causes you to remain in the dark, which, in turn, bears a negative impact on your operations.

It Exposes Your Company to Computer Viruses

The devastating network security risks of computer viruses should give you sufficient reasons for investing in network security audits. Beyond deleting valuable data and corrupting files, viruses can affect your daily activities. Computer viruses can also wipe the data off your entire hard drive. 

For that reason, you should consider advising your workers against clicking or opening links and emails from sources they do not know, in addition to conducting network security audits. 

Employee Security Breaches May Go Unnoticed

You may have trustworthy employees within your firm, but do not forget that they can pose a threat to your network security in one way or another. That may be due to a lack of education regarding best security practices, which leaves your enterprise vulnerable to online attacks. Capturing employee security breaches and taking prompt action may be challenging if you do not conduct a network security audit.

It May Lead to Exploitation of Software Vulnerabilities

In most cases, one may opt to click out of a security update immediately once it pops up on a busy day at the office. When that happens, such an individual will probably not remember to revisit the prompt and take the appropriate action later on when available. Failing to update your software regularly is a security risk for your organization.

The reason is that outdated software can slow your entire network and even crash your site, which means that losing customers will be inevitable.

Leaves Your Entity Prone to Hackers

Understand that network security risks are not only in your office computers since hackers are the other threat you should beware of. Such attackers can target your company from anywhere and gain free rein once they break into your systems. As a result, hackers may expose your trade secrets for your competitors and the world to see. They can also access privileged information and steal files from your firm. Since hackers can hit your network anytime, you cannot afford to overlook network security audits’ importance.

Conclusion

Identifying valuable assets within your firm, exposing underlying threats, and prompt implementation of adequate safeguards will be possible once you conduct a network security audit. Otherwise, you stand to lose a lot if you fail to make this procedure part of your priorities. You can get a free no-obligation consultation by visiting this link. If you want more information on IT/network security audits, contact us today!

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