What is an IT Security Audit?
Every complex system requires no less complex security measures. Typically, measures, which keep your in-app or website data safe, apply to the general cybersecurity of your company. In our previous article, we discussed the most common security threats for web and mobile apps, and how to mitigate them. We described separate security measures for each type of threat, but over the years of digital development, numerous methods of overall security checking were invented or figured out. An IT security audit is one of them.
IT Security Audit is a comprehensive examination of the IT infrastructure of your company as a whole. The main objective of the security audit is to find and eliminate all vulnerabilities and loopholes within the software, network devices, and applications. The main difference is that a security audit implies checking physical components of the system, access to essential parts of the network, etc.
Benefits of IT Security Audit
The most dangerous threats are those you are not aware of. Security audit allows revealing the underlying security risks. Such a procedure allows for evaluating your security procedures and protocols. An audit can help define the minimal requirements of cybersecurity for your business, mitigate the risks, found during the audit, and analyze, whether you deploy not enough or unnecessarily too many resources on security.
No less important issue is to find the compromise configuration of security measures to meet your needs and all the necessary requirements of the regulatory authorities due to the standards of your country and the countries, where your customers are located.
In addition, security audits can help determine if your team, employees, or contractors are aware of all basic security procedures to keep your system running safely daily.
How often you should conduct the security audit
The regularity of security checking depends on the industry, your company works in, and the complexity of your system. If you are a fintech company, for example, dealing with money transfer and confidential data, you likely will need regular audits. For a medium e-commerce startup the one-per-update audit will be enough, but a huge corporation with numerous departments, perhaps, will have a constantly working cybersecurity department.
On average, medium-sized companies conduct the security audit once or twice a year under the condition of stable operation without any drastic changes. Surely, in case of implementing some new product, application, or platform, such things as express security checking should be included in the pre-launch agenda. Also, security audits could be conducted separately for certain departments or parts of your system (e.g., storage with the most sensitive data).
Basically, every time you have your system upgraded, some additional soft or hardware deployed, data migrated or laws and regulations changed, your company should automatically set up time and resources for an IT security audit. Usually, the full procedure can take 1-5 days, so embedding the security procedure won’t take too much time before the project start or product launch. The cost of the procedure also depends on the complexity of the system you’re auditing. On average, one-time checking could cost from $1000 to $20000. The range is wide because the final price always depends on numerous factors – the types, the number of tests, the size of the audited system, etc. Also, you need to keep in mind various indirect costs of such an event, for example, the time your employees spend helping to arrange the audit. It could seem like a huge spend, but from the long-term perspective, each audit session will save you way more money by preventing critical errors and breaks-in.
Types and methodologies
IT security audit procedure can be conducted in various ways, depending on the goal you need to achieve, the scale of checking (one department/application or the whole company’s infrastructure), and the methodology you will choose. We will take a look at the common categorization of security audits:
Origin-based – who conducts the audit:
- Internal – security audit is being conducted with the resources and specialists of the company itself.
- External – audit, conducted by the hired agency or freelance specialists. Could be “second-party” – when the audit is run by the supplier of the IT services, which was involved in the development of the system; and “third-party” – when the audit is conducted by independent, unbiased specialists.
Approach-based – a type of audit with different initial conditions:
- Black Box Audit – the auditor uses only publicly available information about the organization/system and conducts tests “blindly”.
- White Box Audit – the opposite of black – when the auditor knows every detail about the system: source code, what the employees have access to, and implemented security protocols.
- Grey Box Audit – mixed type, when the auditor has partial info.
Methodology-based – what the auditor checks:
- Penetration Tests – the auditor tries to break into the system and disrupt the process.
- Compliance Audits – auditor checks specific parameters to find out if they meet the security standards.
- Risk Assessments – auditor checks the most critical parts of the system with the most valuable and confidential data. These parts, which most likely, can become a target for intruders.
- Vulnerability Tests – checking the most common weak spots and loopholes. It’s often risky to rely on such tests only, because usually “common vulnerabilities” list isn’t complete.
- Due Diligence Questionnaires – checking if the system meets all the company’s requirements and established internal security standards.
A full-fledged IT Security Audit is a huge thing. It’s a big standardized procedure, as the full vehicle inspection, it’s pricey, it consumes a tangible period, and has objective evaluation criteria. But all these expenses will pay you back, either you found a lot of loopholes and fix them, or everything is alright. Anyway, you will get valuable information, that could preserve your company from hackers’ attacks, serious intrusions into work processes, and IP stealing. Also, let’s not forget, that regular reviews could find less severe, but no less important flaws – under- and overspending on security measures.
As a result, a security audit will save you money, eventually. Because typically, those flaws in the system that are usually found during a security audit, in the long run, could cost your company much more money than you spent on the audit. The most common findings during the security audit are:
- Inefficient network architecture
- Poor or inefficient data segmentation and categorization
- Unsecured wireless networks
- Lack of vulnerability scanning
- Lack of access control and activity monitoring
- Outdated hard and/or software
- Lack of security training for employees
- Inadequate management of third-party risk
This isn’t the end of the list. It’s way longer because often, non-tech companies neglect proper security checking. Maybe because they don’t have enough information about how it should be arranged, maybe because it’s expensive. But each flaw we listed above could lead to a security breach, through which the intruders could get inside your system.
Furthermore, in the case of the external security audit, it shakes up the employees, forces them to call to mind all the security procedures, established in your company, and check the abidance of those rules.
At Code Harbor, we accept orders for conducting the security audit. If after this article you decided, that you need one, visit the homepage of our website, set up a call, and let’s discuss it!