As hackers become more skilled at carrying out attacks, companies should also become more aware of their cybersecurity - this is done by doing awareness training. Attacks such as ransomware attacks and supply chain attacks hit businesses the hardest. This means that companies that are not aware of the blind spots in their cyber defenses are more likely to be affected by hacker attacks and data breaches.
Therefore, it's an important part of cybersecurity to perform audits to ensure that your cyber defenses are actually updated and closed to hackers.
What does a quality assurance of your cybersecurity include?
A cybersecurity audit is a lengthy and in-depth process. It looks at different security measures and what actions your company can take to improve cybersecurity even further.
If done properly, audits can reveal otherwise hidden flaws in cybersecurity. In other words, it will highlight gaps in systems, policies, procedures and cyber risk management.
Cybersecurity audits helps companies to:
- Identify and mitigate cyber risks.
- Meet internal and external compliance requirements.
- Comply with laws and regulations.
- Improve credibility with customers and partners.
How much you need to investigate and research depends very much on how often you do quality assurance. If it is something you do often, it will not be as time-consuming as if it is an infrequent assessment.
For example, if you only do audits once a year, it will obviously be more time-consuming and slow than if you do it on a monthly basis.
What quality assurance looks at in depth
In cybersecurity, you also need to look at both compliance with GDPR and personal data, but also the technical aspects in relation to system requirements and software.
In an in-depth cybersecurity audit, you e.g. look at:
- Data security procedures
- How software and hardware work
- Conformity with legal regulations and compliance
- Vulnerabilities that could affect systems
- How effective existing security policies are
- Whether there are internal and external cyber threats
A monthly cybersecurity audit of your business might not go in-depth with the entire list, but rather look at broad areas. These areas could be:
- Software updates
- Resource allocation and whether cybersecurity is getting enough attention
- Controlled attempts to break into company software
- Vulnerability scanning
- Network security
- Data security
How often should you undergo audits?
The more often you do cybersecurity audits, the better your cybersecurity will be. With each audit, you can either find holes in the systems that need to be patched or confirm that the system is secure.
Both are good to be made aware of - if you find flaws, you can fix them, and if there are no flaws, you can be reassured that you are doing well.
In addition, there are various factors that determine whether you should carry out cybersecurity audits:
- How your data is stored in internal systems
- The number and types of network endpoints
- The number and types of software and hardware
- The threat landscape
- Different industry and legal compliance requirements
Why you should do cybersecurity audits
Digital development has led to new software and technology, but also new cyber threats. Companies must therefore also be up to date on what threats they face. If the company does not carry out thorough cybersecurity audits, the risk of being hit by a cyberattack is even greater.
In addition to increasing the cyber threat to the company, they may also run the risk of not being up to date on the legal regulations governing cybersecurity. There are different legal standards that companies have to follow. If you don't follow them, there are not only legal consequences, but the company could suffer a data breach.
Data breaches involve customer data as well as company data - this is information that customers trust the company with. If you lose it or put it at risk, you are likely to lose the trust of your customers.
It's essentially the mishandling of sensitive data that can lead to fines, lawsuits or reputational damage.
By performing cybersecurity audits on a more frequent basis, you can address any gaps in the system. This allows you to implement new and updated measures in your company's cyber defense.
How to perform cybersecurity audits
There are essentially three steps you need to go through to perform audits of a company's cybersecurity:
Clarify the scope of the case
First of all, you need to identify which areas of cybersecurity you want to cover in the audit. Ideally, you should start by figuring out why you are doing the audit, who the stakeholders are, and how you will perform the audit?
Some of the points to look at are:
- The infrastructure of the IT systems (including hardware, network and software components).
- Processing of sensitive data.
- Processing and storage of physical data.
- Cybersecurity policies in the company.
- Compliance standards.
Identify the cyber threat
Once you have clarified the scope of the case, you can move on to investigate which cyber threats are impending or already have affected your business. This could for instance be:
- DDoS attacks
- Social engineering
- Stolen passwords
- Zero-Day attacks
One of the best things you can do to avoid these attacks is to constantly monitor the cyber threat. In connection with that, you should also keep an eye on your company's cyber defenses to know what weaknesses there might be.
Make a plan
Once you have clarified the scope and identified the cyber threat, you need to finalize a plan on how to respond to cyber attacks. A thorough response plan includes:
- Patching the security holes that hackers can get through.
- A business continuity plan that involves restoring files in the event of a crash.
- Documentation for prevention, detection, and tools to protect security systems.
- A communication plan that includes awareness training for employees.
A clear response plan also helps external security professionals to track down any breaches and let them know what has been done to mitigate or try to stop a cyber attack.
Caroline is a copywriter here at Moxso beside her education. She is doing her Master's in English and specializes in translation and the psychology of language. Both fields deal with communication between people and how to create a common understanding - these elements are incorporated into the copywriting work she does here at Moxso.