Cyber Security: How to Prepare for a Security Audit

No matter the size of your business, periodically performing security audits can protect your network from a damaging cyber security breach. Don’t wait until you’re the victim of a security breach… because, at that point, it’s already too late. A security audit not only helps companies keep critical data safe, but it will also detect loopholes in your network which may be accessible pathways for security breaches. Moreover, security audits are needed for reviewing and meeting compliance requirements for business networks set by the regulatory bodies.  

Security audits are managed either internally or externally. For internal audits, internal staff usually performs the audit. In comparison, a managed IT service provider that handles system upgrades performs external audits. 

Ways to Prepare for A Security Audit

In 2018, a report by KPMG stated that data privacy is one of the top 10 regulatory challenges for organizations. It also identified steps companies should take to improve their cyber security game, including how to properly prepare for and execute a security audit.

A security audit takes time and some prepping for it to run smoothly. Here are seven ways that you can prepare for your security audit.

1. Determine the reason for the audit

Before initiating a security audit, it’s critical to understand why you need it. There are a number of reasons businesses may want to run a security audit that go beyond “well, it’s probably time.” Here are the most common fundamental reasons why companies run security audits:

  • Compliance with the regulations. Security auditors review and ensure that you comply with all the necessary guidelines. Noncompliance issues can be quite costly to a business’ bottom line.
  • Identification of gaps. Security audits help you discover the gaps in your existing systems and allow you to remove vulnerabilities to improve your network’s cyber security. 
  • Policy Updates. With security audits, companies get a chance to evaluate the existing policies and update them according to the latest developments. 
  • Response to a breach. A security audit enables you to bounce back after a cyber security breach by providing valuable data on how to prevent such attacks in the future.

2. Notify internal and external stakeholders

The security auditors might need to get in touch with significant positions inside the company for a better outlook on the company policies and structure. So, informing internal and external stakeholders and partners about the audit is a crucial step. This helps everyone prepare in advance in case the auditor asks for documentation or other valuable data based on their findings. Therefore, before an audit, discuss with your auditors whom they might need to talk to during the process and make sure that all necessary  stakeholders are in the meeting with their business tools and files.

3. Take inventory (hardware/software)

A cyber security audit can be a hectic time for businesses, and interruptions caused by a lack in your system can prolong it even further. That’s the reason learning about your assets (both hardware and software) is so critical for a professional security audit. For a smooth audit, take an inventory of your technology-related and machine-based assets and make an effort to understand what your company owns. Once you have a clear idea of where you stand, you’ll be better prepared for the audit.

4. Get the audit checklist before the audit

Preparing saves time in every situation, and a security audit is no different. Ask your auditors about the documents and files they might need while running the audit and make a comprehensive checklist. This will help you stay focused during the audit and put vital information in one place, making it easier for audit professionals to complete their job. Completing the security audit checklist in advance of the audit itself saves time for both parties (your company and the auditor) and prevents unnecessary stress and chaos during the audit.

5. Review your policies

Make sure to document all the operation policies in one place so you can answer effectively during the audit. Having this in order prior to an audit gives businesses an excellent opportunity to review their current policies and make edits where needed. As a refresher, a company policy sets the rules and guidelines for employees and employers within an organization. 

Standard policies most companies have are:

  • Acceptable Use Policy
  • Internet Access Policy
  • Email and Communications Policy
  • Network Security Policy
  • Remote Access Policy, BYOD Policy
  • Encryption Policy 
  • Privacy Policy 

6. Perform a self-assessment

Before you give external cyber security auditors access to your essential files and documents it’s a best practice to perform a self-assessment of your firm. A self-assessment can be done using metrics and business growth rates — but, make sure to be honest, professional, and specific when running an assessment of your business or firm on your own. If done correctly, this internal audit of your company can help generate your own findings and solutions, which, later can be compared with the detailed, external security audit. 

7. Preschedule tests or deliverables

For a successful security audit, auditors need to test your business structures and policies, like risk assessment and penetration testing, and evaluate the company based on the results. Companies can benefit significantly by scheduling those tests before the audit begins and having the deliverables ready for the auditors in time for them to begin their assessment. This shows that your firm is serious (and honest) about running the cyber security audit. Testing or deliverables planned after the audit begins tend to reflect poorly on the company profile.

Preparing for a security audit can take time, but helps ensure a thorough audit that not only runs efficiently, but minimizes risks of security breaches.

Visual Edge IT, Inc. (VEIT) specializes in managed IT services and security, cloud computing, and print/copy solutions for businesses across the U.S. including remote office locations. We offer a full line of office technology and services including 24/7 remote monitoring and administration of networks, service desk, and data backup and restore to improve business processes across a variety of industries. Plus, Visual Edge IT™ represents the industry’s leading manufacturers of office technology allowing businesses to get equipment, supplies and service from a single source. Backed by more than 20-years of technology service and a national network of expert engineers, VEIT is uniquely positioned to support business technology needs. The company is headquartered in North Canton, OH, USA. Request your no-obligation assessment today and get a free dark web analysis.