How to Audit Your Cybersecurity Strategy

How to Audit Your Cybersecurity Strategy

Every business owner should hold cybersecurity as one of their top priorities. With a robust cybersecurity strategy, you can protect your business’s most sensitive information, ward off your biggest threats, and preserve your reputation simultaneously. But how can you be certain your cybersecurity strategy is working? Or that it’s sufficient to protect your interests?

One option is to perform a cybersecurity audit, which can help you identify any standing issues with your cybersecurity approach – and come up with a plan for correcting them.

Options for Your Security Audit

You have two primary options for executing your cybersecurity audit. First, you could conduct the audit completely internally. With the help of IT leaders and other personnel, you can devise a high-level strategy and execute it one step at a time. This is an inexpensive approach, but it also has a few big flaws; namely, your biases and proximity to these systems may preclude you from recognizing their biggest flaws.

For most organizations, it makes more sense to hire a partner to serve as an expert, overseeing the planning and execution of your audit. For example, if you use managed IT services in New York, your managed IT service provider may help you determine what type of audit you need, arrange the resources necessary to execute it, and even help you take action after you identify new vulnerabilities and risks.

How a Cybersecurity Audit Works

A cybersecurity audit is designed to review your security strategies from top to bottom, helping you understand your current levels of effectiveness, potential risks your organization may face, and possible strategies to implement to close any security gaps you discover.

Typically, a cybersecurity audit will focus on the following:

  • Data security strategies and practices. What current data security strategies and practices do you have in place? How consistently and effectively are you implementing them?
  • Software and hardware updates and performance. What types of hardware and software are you currently using within this organization? Are these all sufficiently updated? Are they performing optimally?
  • Regulatory and legal compliance status. Are you in full compliance with all laws and regulations that apply to your organization?
  • Employee knowledge and capabilities. Are your employees trained and educated on cybersecurity basics? Are they able to recognize social engineering scams, and do they adhere to best practices for security?
  • Threat and risk presence. What are the biggest risks and threats that face your organization? Are you adequately prepared for them?

You can achieve this with a combination of strategies, including:

  • High-level review. Together with your team members, auditors should gain a complete understanding of the technologies you use on a regular basis.
  • Vulnerability scanning. Vulnerability scanning allows you to automatically detect potential vulnerabilities.
  • Penetration testing. Penetration testing gives you an opportunity to truly test your defenses and monitoring systems; effectively, this means staging a fake attack.
  • Interviews. Some cybersecurity auditors also interview security personnel and other employees to get a feel for their level of knowledge and experience.

What Are the Benefits of a Cybersecurity Audit?

There are many benefits to gain from executing a cybersecurity audit, including:

  • Identify and eliminate (or mitigate) vulnerabilities. This is your chance to identify and minimize the risk posed by specific vulnerabilities within your organization.
  • Ensure regulatory compliance. It’s also an opportunity to ensure your regulatory compliance.
  • Evaluate employee training and ongoing efforts. Are your employees equipped to maintain your organization’s security?
  • Reduce potential expenses. An average data breach in the United States costs $9.44 million, and that number seems to keep growing. Cybersecurity audits cost money upfront, but because they prevent these massive losses, they usually save you money in the long run.

Other Important Tips for Your Cybersecurity Audit

If you want your cybersecurity audit to be even more effective, make sure you follow these tips:

  • Hire a partner you trust. There are many individuals and organizations out there willing to give you a full cybersecurity audit, but some are going to be more effective than others. Find a partner you can truly trust.
  • Choose the right scope. Sometimes, it makes sense to do a truly comprehensive audit, analyzing every technological element within your organization. Other times, you just need a simple tune up, giving your systems a once-over.
  • Plan to take action. Your cybersecurity audit isn’t valuable unless it’s actionable. Once you discover new risks, vulnerabilities, and potential improvements, it’s on you to act on them.
  • Schedule another audit in the future. Finally, be prepared to schedule another audit in the future. This isn’t a one-time review, as your technologies and practices are sure to evolve.

A full cybersecurity audit could be exactly what your organization needs to gain more confidence in your compliance and security. If you’ve never used one, schedule one as soon as possible.