Download our free IT Security Audit Checklist.

Cybersecurity is a major concern for businesses, especially since hackers are getting smarter and bolder. To protect your company, a robust cybersecurity strategy is vital. However, you won’t be able to develop one without a comprehensive IT security audit.

Why are security audits important?

IT security audits are important because they uncover system flaws that leave your company vulnerable to cyberattacks. By identifying these flaws, you can make informed decisions about which security tools and strategies to implement.

Keep in mind that these audits are only effective if you conduct them at least every quarter. That’s because the cyberthreat landscape is constantly changing, and new vulnerabilities are discovered almost every month. Between July and September 2018, for example, 57% of data breaches in Australia was due to phishing, stolen passwords, and brute-force attacks.

You may also add more hardware, software, and users as your company grows over the course of a year, giving hackers more entry points into your systems. What’s more, failing to schedule regular security audits means you face a higher risk of data breaches and noncompliance with the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, often resulting in thousands of dollars in damages, lawsuits, and loss of brand reputation.

How do you audit your company’s security infrastructure?

Define the threats

The first thing you must do is list all the threats that could affect your IT infrastructure, data, customers, and users. Here’s a pre-made one to get you started:

Malware – includes computer viruses, worms, spyware, Trojan horses, and ransomware.
Denial of service – overwhelms your network with requests and commands, forcing it to go offline.
Account hijacking – caused by weak, easy-to-guess passwords.
Data leaks – due to unauthorised disclosure of information or lax access restrictions.
Social engineering – like phishing, smishing, and vishing.
Physical breach – where hackers infiltrate your office to attack your systems directly.

Evaluate security performance

Next, assess your company’s ability to defend against all the threats listed in the previous step. This involves putting your IT systems and users through a series of tests, such as:

Security framework review – identifies the security measures you currently have in place (firewalls and antivirus software) and which areas of your IT infrastructure they protect (devices, network, email, software, etc.).
Penetration testing – simulates attacks on your system to find vulnerabilities a would-be hacker could exploit.
Security awareness assessment – studies how employees respond to simulated phishing scams and strategically staged USB drives.
Password testing – checks whether users are setting long and unique passcodes with a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.

Assess the likelihood of threats

Take your list of threats and score them on a scale of 1–10 based on how likely they’ll occur. During your assessment, make sure you:

Use results from your tests – if employees failed the security awareness assessment, for instance, your business will fall victim to social engineering attacks.
Analyse previous breaches – hackers will likely use the same tactics if they’ve successfully attacked your business in the past.
Study industry-level trends – industries like healthcare are more susceptible to phishing scams and ransomware attacks, while others are weaker against denial-of-service attacks.
Stay up to date on cybersecurity news – hackers will use the newest threats more frequently.

Design a defence strategy

The final step is to develop a strategy to address your most probable threats. For example, if phishing scams are recurring threats, you need stronger email filtering solutions and more robust security awareness training. Or, if your business is weak against denial-of-service attacks, you should install intrusion prevention systems and monitor your networks 24/7.

The combination of security solutions will vary for each threat, and to make sure you implement the right ones, you need expert recommendations from seasoned IT consultants.

Empower IT Solutions understands how tedious and daunting audits can be, which is why we provide thorough, objective cybersecurity assessments and consulting services for large and small businesses across Australia. We also provide a broad array of security technologies to prevent costly breaches and keep your company’s name from appearing in the news for all the wrong reasons. Call us today to schedule an IT security audit.

Download our free IT Security Audit Checklist.

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