A cyber security audit is something your organisation should do regularly. For full effectiveness though, you can hire an external specialised cyber security company to do it for you. This is often a good idea as a third-party will have the objectivity required to perform a thorough and effective cyber security audit.
An effective cyber security audit will cover a wide range of aspects of cyber security to ensure that you have implemented the best possible practices and deterrents to safeguard your information. If you’ve chosen to perform an internal cyber security audit, here are some items you need to consider:
Key Points to Consider for a Cyber Security Audit
1. Frameworks & Guidelines
Have you implemented an official cyber security framework, or adopted your own set of guidelines for managing your cyber security risk? A framework gives you all the technical steps you need to take to cover your cyber security bases and takes away the guesswork of trying to figure out what protocols and steps you should implement.
2. Forthcoming and New Legislation
With recent legislation like the Notifiable Data Breach Scheme, or the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), it’s important to be aware of changes to existing information security laws and assess if your business is compliant with new regulations. It’s important to note, however, that legislation is often well-behind the curve on anything remotely technological, so consider doing more than being just compliant and plan ahead.
3. Cyber Incident Response Plan
Do you have a business continuity plan that includes a comprehensive cyber incident policy? Your business should have a clear plan of action in the case of any cyber incident that allows you to immediately go into crisis management mode. A response plan should include backup and disaster recovery protocols, and should absolutely be tested and updated frequently to ensure reliability.
4. Control Access
Consider in your cyber security audit that anti-virus software, frameworks and backup systems are all fine and handy, but you still very much need to manage and control access and privileges of users to sensitive information. Users should only have access to the privileges and information that they need to do their job. All access to sensitive information should require two-factor authentication! This is because at the end of the day, users are still the biggest risk factor in cyber security, and despite people’s best intentions, mistakes are still made. Restricting access as necessary minimises that risk.
5. Employee Education
Following on from access control, you need to consider if your employees are properly educated in the seriousness of cyber security and if they have the knowledge and tools to conduct themselves in a way that mitigates risk. Ensure your staff understand the implications of a data breach, and what basic protocols they should always follow (with regards to passwords, personal devices, information sharing, social media etc). Consider a reward-based system to encourage cyber-safe activity. If everyone feels that they can personally assist the cyber security of a business, and if they have an incentive to do so, you’ll have staff going out of their way for you to minimise risk.
There are many more items to consider when evaluating your business in a cyber security audit, but we feel that these components comprise the heart of cyber security in a business and work in conjunction with each other to form the best possible barrier to cyber incidents. Even if you choose to hire an external organisation to perform a cyber security audit on your business, it’s crucial for you to still assess and understand these aspects of the business so you are prepared to detect and identify any vulnerabilities in your system.
You can never truly over-prepare for a cyber incident, and if you consider an attack to be always forthcoming, you’ll always be watching your security perimeter, and keeping your business up-to-date with patches, software, hardware upgrades, employee training and more. Don’t groan at the thought of a cyber security audit, as if it’s a rental inspection by some power-tripping realtor, consider it an opportunity to ensure your business is a tightly-run ship and challenge yourself to reduce your cyber risk to a ridiculously small percentage. It will serve as the best deterrent possible to any attackers eyeing off your business.