The Scope Of A Cyber Security Audit

Cyber security is not about IT security, or technical resilience, it is mainly about Data and Information Security. Unfortunately, most companies are breached due to a false sense of security, or misguided assurances from their IT Manager or IT Provider that their company is protected from cyber-risk because of their firewall, advanced software or hardware solutions.

A false sense of security is still prevalent and is one of the the major reasons why cybercriminals are so successful in their attacks. They know that most companies have probably spent money on basic cybersecurity, so they simply target your company’s weakest link, your people, processes and procedures.

As part of the GDPR process in the Britian, every company is legally required to have a nominated Data Protection Officer present within the business who would be responsible for knowing what data is flowing out and it what is flowing in. Whoever that person is, whether you or someone else within the business, they should undertake a Cyber Audit.

As incidents continue to proliferate across the globe, it’s becoming clear that cyber risks will never be completely eliminated. Businesses today are increasingly interconnected and dependent on digital business processes. This amplifies the impact of cyber-attacks on every area of operations.

Protecting the business and exploiting the opportunities that the digital way of working brings is fundamental to the future of companies. Cybersecurity is now a persistent business risk. It is no longer an issue that concerns only information technology; the financial, operational and reputational impacts have made this a C-suite and boardroom priority.

The first step to a secure network is to discover existing vulnerabilities and find the best solutions for dealing with them. A cyber security audit focuses on cyber security standards, guidelines and procedures, as well as the implementation of these controls.

Companies sometimes question the usefulness of an internal cybersecurity audit, and the question of, “aren’t standard risk assessments enough to formulate a security strategy to protect a company’s digital assets?” is often asked.

In reality, though, standard risk assessments aren’t especially useful when it comes to establishing a wide-ranging, in-depth security plan for your business. Cyber self-audits are crucial for your business, as they allow you to set your own parameters and a specific set of goals. Self-audits give you the opportunity to:

  • Establish a Set of Security Standards – The results of your self-audit will provide the opportunity to decide what your security standards are and how they should be rolled out across the business.
  • To Help Enforce Regulations and Best Practice – Audits ensure all regulations and practices, both your own internal audit security standards and any compulsory external legislation are followed to the letter.
  • To Determine the State of Your Security – A thorough audit will show you how your current security protocols are working in a way that a risk assessment couldn’t. Along with what’s missing, it will also take into account how current processes are performing, along with why and how they could and should be improved.

Overall, self-auditing is a brilliantly useful tool when you need to understand whether your cybersecurity is working as it should, or you’re preparing for an external audit in the near future.

PWC says that these are the fundamentals that need to be in place:

  • An understanding of what your critical information is, where it is stored, and who has access to it.
  • An understanding of your threat landscape (‘opportunistic’ and ‘directed’) so your defences are aligned to threats and your business context.
  • A fit-for-purpose governance framework, executive accountability and security culture to embed security into your business and behaviours.
  • Operational resilience to withstand inevitable attacks and incidents and minimise the business impacts through the right mechanisms to identify, respond and recover.
  • A defined strategy that informs and drives security investment and regulatory compliance, with clear return on investment (RoI) to balance security around your most critical assets against the risks and threats to these assets.

Up to 30% of people have no idea whether they’ve been hacked and their data remains unprotected, by ensuring you complete an audit at least once a quarter, you can keep abreast of any updated tech on the market that could further protect your business.

How to Conduct a Cyber Security Audit

There a numerous way to collect the required data you need, such as user action monitoring, access management and employee tracking software, which allows you to access all of the data in one centralised zone.
But, what are the steps you first need to consider when performing a thorough audit?

Internal vs External Audit

When you’ve decided to perform an audit, you need to determine whether you’re happy to use your own resources or contact an external professional.

External auditors are consummate professionals. They use a wide-ranging selection of cybersecurity software, such as vulnerability detectors and they’re able to bring a tremendous amount of knowledge to the table in order to find gaps and security flaws in your systems.

The biggest drawback, however, is the fact that they often don’t come cheap, and finding a professional with the necessary qualifications and expertise can often be complicated.

In addition to this, the success of your audit will depend heavily on the lines of communication between yourself and the auditor. If an auditor cannot get access to your data in good time, the audit will take longer than necessary, which bloats costs and produces inaccurate results.

This makes external audits something of a luxury, rather than an ongoing option. They are an excellent option to undertake once a year, should you have the resources to invest in it.

Internal audits, on the other hand, are far easier to manage, and as already mentioned, they can offer you an opportunity to gather data and set your own benchmarks.

Below is a list of frequent threats that you should be considering during this step:

  • Careless Employees – Your employees need to be your first line of defence; any weak link in this chain is enough to undermine the whole process. How well trained are your employees? Are they trained to notice suspicious activity and follow security protocols to the letter?
  • Phishing Attacks – Breach perpetrators are regularly using phishing attacks to get hold of sensitive information.
  • Weak Passwords –Weak or stolen passwords are the most common method used by hackers to gain access to networks.
  • Insider Threats – No one wants to think about the idea that someone on the inside of their business would do anything to hurt their business either maliciously or accidentally, but unfortunately it is possible, and it does happen.
  • DDoS Breaches –  A distributed denial of service attack does exactly what it says on the tin. Multiple systems flood a target (usually a web server) to overload it and render it useless.
  • Employee Devices – Do your employees connect their smartphones to the Wi-Fi or use their own USB stick? If so, you need to take these into account as it substantially weakens your security position.
  • Malware – This encompasses several threats, such as worms, Trojan horses, spyware and the persistent and increasingly prevalent ransomware.
  • Physical Theft or Natural Disaster – While neither of these things is especially likely, the consequences of not being prepared could cost your organisation a massive sum of money.

However, it’s often the case that internal auditors will often lack the experience of a professional and therefore would need some help to begin the process.  Cyber Security Intelligence can help you make the right decisions.

For advice and to get connected to the right source of  assistance, Contact Us.

ISACA:       Cara Technology UK:       HackerMoon:        TechShire:       PWC:       Cyber Audit Team:

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