You might think you’re protected, but that’s not always the case. When it comes to cyber security, it only takes one small chink in your digital armour to inflict a potentially terminal attack.
That’s where a cyber security audit comes in. In this article, we’ll explain the ins and outs of cyber security audits and how they can help highlight weaknesses in your IT defences.
What is a cyber security audit?
A cyber security audit is an independent and unbiased review of a business’s cyber defences, including an appraisal of software and hardware, systems and policies. An audit is designed to understand a business’s ability to defend against and withstand attacks or breaches.
What is involved in a cyber security audit?
Cyber security audits involve a range of tests and analyses to understand weaknesses and potential issues in a business’s lines of defence against cyber crime and attacks. The audit is undertaken by experts who are able to understand and identify vulnerabilities within a business’s IT infrastructure. The audit will also review policies and procedures, systems in place to protect data and sensitive information, as well as network security and system security.
What are the different types of security audits?
A cyber security audit can involve several pieces of analysis. These are often split into their own individual tests and assessments. The main types of security audit are:
- Risk assessments — which help to identify risks and threats that your business may be susceptible to
- Vulnerability assessments — which examines the security processes and systems your business has in place to reveal vulnerabilities that could be exploited
- Penetration testing — where a hacking attack is simulated to see how your defences stand up; this is sometimes known as a red team exercise
- Compliance audits — which help organisations and businesses working in certain industries (such as finance or healthcare) adhere to stringent policies
Why is a cyber security audit important for your business?
There are several ways that a cyber security audit can help your business. Without regular testing of your systems, you can leave your data and networks vulnerable to attack, which can be disastrous and sometimes can spell the end for small businesses.
Here are some reasons why auditing is important.
Identifying weaknesses before they become exposed
Often, businesses only become aware of a vulnerability in their defences when it’s too late — after a breach has occurred.
A regular and reliable audit process can help to identify these weaknesses before they are exploited by cyber criminals, enabling you to take proactive corrective action to put proper protection in place.
Guarding your data
Every business needs to store and process information. Adequate cyber security helps to keep this data protected, but every day data is moved, added and new types of data created, sometimes stored in new locations and devices. This means that previously adequate security systems can quickly become ineffective. Regular testing of your systems ensures you don’t lose sight of how effectively your data (and that of your customers, clients and partners) is being protected.
Preventing financial upheaval
A cyber security breach can be incredibly costly for businesses. Loss of data can prevent a business operating for a period (or permanently) leading to a potentially significant loss of revenue. Depending on the nature of the breach, it may also result in the need for compensation payments. Meanwhile, data breaches caused by lapses in compliance can result in heavy fines as part of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Act.
For small and medium businesses, loss of revenue, reputation and/or financial penalties stemming from poor cyber security can spell disaster. Constant monitoring and upkeep of systems, and identification of weaknesses, is therefore essential. Even if you have a data breach, proving you took steps to prevent it could reduce or remove the potential legal implications.
Avoiding reputational damage
Alongside the financial and data protection issues, there’s also a trust consideration associated. Good cyber security can effectively also be considered a reputation management activity; without it, can potential customers and clients trust that you have the right systems in place? Will clients and customers trust you if their data has been exposed during a breach? Will details of a breach be leaked to the press?
A security audit can give you the ability to build trust with current and potential customers by assuring them that their data is as safe as it can be.
How often should you run a security audit?
As an absolute minimum, you should have your cyber defences and systems audited at least once a year. However, many businesses that understand the threats posed by cyber crime choose to have a more frequent audit done — perhaps quarterly.
The thing to remember is that criminals are constantly finding new ways to adapt and attack. From more innovative phishing scams to complex malware and viruses, there’s always something new to defend against. That’s why it’s so important to keep on top of your defences and ensure they’re up to date and up to the job.
Having a managed IT service provider in place can help to keep a close eye on things.
Let the experts assess your cyber defences
When was the last time your business’s cyber defences were tested and appraised? It may well be time to let the experts take an impartial look and help you to identify weaknesses in your setup.
At The PC Support Group, our expert technicians have years of experience in auditing cyber security systems, as well as an encyclopaedic knowledge of the latest and most robust lines of defence that can help you to be better prepared for an attack. We can help to protect your business, keep your assets safe and ensure you are complying with statutory regulations and quality accreditations.
Don't wait til it’s too late — get in touch today on 03300 886 116 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can help you.
If you’re looking to broaden your own knowledge (or that of your team) on all things cyber security, download our free ebook today: