Audit in Network Security: Audit’s Role in Cybersecurity
No matter how big or small your business is, there will always be cybersecurity gaps.
With hackers becoming increasingly sophisticated, relying solely on reactive security measures is no longer sufficient. You need to find how you can protect your business from the ever-increasing skills of hackers. And you need to do it now.
The best way you can protect your business is to start an audit in network security.
In this blog, we’ll explore the definition and significance of network security audits on how they fortify your cybersecurity defences and ensure your organization stays one step ahead.
Understanding Network Security Audits
A network security audit is a systematic examination and evaluation of an organization’s network infrastructure, systems, and practices to identify vulnerabilities, assess compliance with security policies and regulations, and ensure the effectiveness of security controls.
The reason why you need to use them in your business is to proactively identify weaknesses, risks, and gaps in the network security posture. This will allow organizations to make informed decisions regarding improvements and necessary actions.
Audits in network security provide valuable insights into the overall security status and help organizations maintain a robust cybersecurity framework.
Audit in Network Security Objectives
The objectives of a network security audit follow several key areas:
- Identify and Assess: Audits aim to identify and assess any potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses in network infrastructure (including hardware, software, and configurations).
- Evaluate Compliance: Audits aim to evaluate compliance with internal security policies and external rules and regulations. They ensure that the organisation meets industry standards and legal requirements.
- Monitor and Detect: Audits play a vital role in monitoring and detecting any potential cybersecurity breaches to allow IT to respond and mitigate a breach.
- Evaluate Effectiveness: Audits play a vital role in evaluating the effectiveness of implementing security controls and measures and can determine their efficiency whilst identifying areas for improvement.
The typical audits you can perform to reach these objectives are:
- Vulnerability assessments: where you identify and evaluate vulnerabilities in a network infrastructure, applications, or systems to determine potential points which could be exploitated by malicious actors.
- Penetration testing: simulate real-world attacks to assess the security of your network by attempting to exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access. It helps you identify potential weaknesses before malicious actors get to them.
- Configuration audits: reviewing and assessing the configuration settings of network devices, servers, and software to ensure they align with security best practices and comply with established standards. It helps identify any misconfigurations or insecure settings in your business that can compromise network security.
- Policy compliance audits: evaluate whether your organization’s security policies and procedures are being followed effectively.
- Security control audits: assess the effectiveness and adequacy of implemented security controls, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, access controls, and encryption mechanisms.
But how do these objectives and different types of audits actually protect your business’s overall cybersecurity?
The Audits Role in Cybersecurity
To keep your business protected from cybercrime, there is a lot you need to do, and an audit is just one of them.
But an audit can be one of the most important things you can do after you think you have your cybersecurity all figured out. There are a few reasons why:
Identify Vulnerabilities and Weaknesses
An audit in network security is used to identify the areas that are exposed and weak. The audit is there to pick out the areas which could potentially be victimised by a malicious actor in the hopes of breaching your business.
With an audit, you can identify these vulnerabilities and weaknesses, and patch them before anybody malicious comes along.
The type of audit you would perform for this is likely a vulnerability assessment or a penetration test.
When it comes to your cybersecurity, you have so many different rules and regulations you need to follow. So many, in fact, that there could be something you are missing.
Audits are there to make sure that you are following all the compliance regulations you are supposed to, and they will tell you if you are missing any.
That way, you can address the mistake in your compliance before you are faced with huge fines (for example, you could get up to a £4,000 fine for not registering to the ICO).
Monitoring for Breaches
Your cybersecurity is at risk because of malicious actors breaching your business and accessing the personal information your business holds.
When you use an audit to monitor for breaches, you are mitigating the risk of the breach by shutting it down before anybody malicious can have made an impact. Monitoring for breaches makes sure that you are able to keep on top of your cybersecurity and reduce the risk of malicious actors stealing personal data.
Evaluating security controls
As an SME, I’m going to bet that you have many cybersecurity solutions in place to protect your business.
An email spam filter, a firewall, endpoint protection (for example, SentinelOne), or malware antivirus protection. Do you have all of these to protect your business? Typically, these solutions can give you a comprehensive cybersecurity defence – but an audit can evaluate if you’ve done enough.
These solutions may be good, but they may not be good enough to make sure your business is kept secure enough. An audit can evaluate all of your security controls and show you where you need to implement increased security.
Overall, the role of audits in cybersecurity is that they are there to double-check that you are doing all you can for your cybersecurity. Your cybersecurity has to be well-made to be effective and protect you and your customers’ information.
An audit just makes sure the work you are doing to protect your cybersecurity is good enough to be effective.
But what are the benefits of doing this?
Benefits of Audit in Network Security
Enhanced risk management:
Risk management is one of the most important aspects of cybersecurity nowadays, and network security audits provide businesses with a proactive approach to risk management.
By identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses in your network infrastructure, you can implement the appropriate controls and safeguards to mitigate any potential risks your business has.
Audits help prioritize security investments and allocate resources effectively. When you manage the risk to your business effectively, you reduce the likelihood of security incidents and their associated financial & reputational damages.
By addressing risks through regular audits, you will be able to maintain a stronger security posture and stay one step ahead of potential threats.
If you are not compliant with all the rules and regulations that you are governed by, then you can face heavy fines and reprimands. By completing an audit, you can discover your shortfalls and improve your compliance.
Through audits, you can identify any gaps or deviations from required security policies and procedures, and take corrective actions to meet the necessary compliance standards. This ensures that your business adheres to legal obligations, avoids penalties, and maintains a solid reputation as a trustworthy entity.
Strengthened incident response:
Quick and effective incident response is critical in minimizing the impact of security breaches as it can mitigate any potential damages to your business.
Network security audits strengthen incident response by identifying areas of improvement and implementing proactive measures. If you assess your incident response plans, you can ensure they are well-prepared to handle security incidents effectively, including detection, containment, eradication, and recovery processes.
Increased cybersecurity posture:
One of the primary benefits of network security audits is the overall enhancement of an organization’s cybersecurity posture.
Audits provide businesses with a comprehensive view of their security controls, vulnerabilities, and compliance status. By addressing identified weaknesses and implementing recommended improvements, businesses can significantly strengthen their security infrastructure.
Overall, by providing your business with an audit in network security, your business can gain real-time insights into your cybersecurity and how it can be improved.
Once you’ve used the cybersecurity audits to gauge and enhance your cybersecurity measures, your cybersecurity will be better off!
But what are the best practices for you to do this?
Best Practices for Network Security Audits
If you follow the best practices for creating an audit in network security, you can ensure all the benefits of a cybersecurity audit come to your business.
Find The Most Qualified Auditors:
When conducting network security audits, it is crucial to engage qualified and experienced auditors with the necessary cybersecurity and network infrastructure expertise.
Look for auditors with relevant certifications and a track record of successful audits.
Qualified auditors will bring a fresh perspective and unbiased assessment of your network security posture, ensuring thorough evaluations and accurate findings. Their expertise will help uncover vulnerabilities and provide valuable insights and recommendations for improvement.
Setting clear objectives and scope:
Before conducting a network security audit, it is essential to establish clear objectives and define the scope of the audit.
Identify what specific areas or components of the network infrastructure will be evaluated and what goals you aim to achieve through the audit.
Clear objectives and a defined scope provide focus and ensure that the audit covers critical aspects of your network security. This helps auditors allocate resources efficiently and enables the organization to measure the success of the audit against predefined benchmarks.
Updating security policies:
Regularly updating and reviewing security policies is a fundamental best practice for network security. Security policies should align with industry best practices, regulatory requirements, and the evolving threat landscape.
During the audit, evaluate the effectiveness of existing security policies and identify any gaps or areas for improvement. Update policies to address emerging threats and ensure they are communicated effectively to employees.
By maintaining up-to-date security policies, you establish a solid foundation for your network security framework and reduce the risk of security incidents.
Implementing continuous monitoring:
Network security is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and assessment.
Implement tools and systems that enable real-time network activity monitoring, threat detection, and incident response. Continuous monitoring allows you to identify and respond to security events promptly, reducing the potential impact of attacks.
Regularly assess the effectiveness of your security controls and monitoring mechanisms to ensure they provide the desired protection level.
By implementing continuous monitoring practices, you can detect and address potential vulnerabilities and threats proactively, improving your overall network security posture.
The audit’s role in cybersecurity is a crucial one: it helps you be prepared. Do you have any gaps in your cybersecurity? Are you not adhering to the correct cybersecurity policies and procedures that could harm you if you have a cybersecurity breach?
An audit in network security can prepare your cybersecurity to be the best it can be. It can notify you of any gaps/ holes in your cybersecurity so that you can patch them to reduce the chances of a cybersecurity breach. It can also let you know if you are following all the cybersecurity policies and procedures you need to – which also protects your business.
If you need any help with auditing your business or your network security posture, contact us here today.
Learn More About Audit In Network Security
Here at Jera, we are currently running a 30-minute course on the audit’s role in cybersecurity.
To learn more about this course and how it can benefit you, contact us today.
Alternatively, sign up to our courses now at Jera. We provide a wide-range of cybersecurity courses that you can use to educate and train your employees on the risks of cybersecurity.
Protect your business through teaching.