When was the last time you took a close look at your business’ cyber security?
If you’re here, there’s a good chance that you’ve just realised that it’s been a while, and now you’re looking to quickly put together an IT audit to keep your data secure (it’s okay – it happens to lots of people!).
Every business is different; yours will require its own unique approach to cyber protection. There’s a lot to consider, so let’s get stuck in!
What is an IT audit?
An IT audit is a thorough check of all of your IT systems, both physical assets and your data. IT audits are becoming increasingly important as businesses continue to digitise, so getting it right is key.
A good IT audit will:
- Identify all software and hardware that is vulnerable.
- Evaluate all systems that are designed to secure company data (to make sure they’re doing their job).
- Determine key risks and implement methods to minimise said risks.
- Ensure IT laws, policies and standards are adhered to.
- Reduce IT inefficiencies (an audit often has the positive side effect of making your systems more efficient – nice!).
Internal vs external audit
When choosing whether to complete your audit yourself (internal), or to enlist the help of a cyber security business (external), it’s important to ask two questions before you start:
- Have I got the time to carry out this audit?
- Do I have the expertise to thoroughly check all of my IT systems?
Audits are time consuming, and can be costly if mistakes are made. If you have the time, resources and expertise required, then an internal audit is the way to go (although we do recommend the occasional external audit – it’s always good to get a second opinion).
External audits are a fantastic way to remove the stress from the situation – you can guarantee that your systems have been given a thumbs up from a qualified expert.
If you’re worried at all about carrying out the audit, we highly recommend getting in touch with our team at Nebula IT. We do this day in, day out. It’s our job to ensure you’re secure without any of the hassle and stress that can come with an IT audit.
Set your goals
Do you know what you’re looking to achieve?
At its core, an IT audit is designed to assess your internal controls, ensuring that they’re performing optimally and are actively working to minimise any risk to the business.
You’ll want to identify any notable issues. Ask your teams if there are any glaring problems, note any pain points and check whether your existing cyber security controls are doing what they’re supposed to.
Your audit should identify your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses, while providing insights into what you can do to improve. Set your goals based around your day-to-day processes and key areas of vulnerability.
What are the cyber security risks to your business?
There’s a big list of possible threats to your business. Some will be more relevant to you than others, so it’s important to isolate the biggest threats and make them a priority.
Malware, hacking & phishing
If you’ve got data (you do), then a hacker wants it. It’s as simple as that.
Malware, phishing, ransomware and other hacking methods are all ways of accessing the valuable data that your organisation stores.
A deep understanding of modern cyberattack methods is important for everyone in your organisation. The better educated your team is, the more likely that signs of cyberattack are spotted and dealt with swiftly and effectively. Couple this with specialist cyber security software, and you’ll establish a strong barrier that protects your business from malicious attacks.
Denial of service (DoS) attacks
A DoS attack does exactly what it says on the tin – it denies access to services, systems and devices, meaning that legitimate users (your team) can no longer access computers etc.
Denial of service attacks are often accompanied by a ransom that attackers will expect you to pay in order to regain access to your systems.
While rare, natural disasters, fires and other disastrous events can happen, and can cause serious harm.
It’s incredibly important to have a thorough disaster recovery plan in place, as extended periods of downtime can prove to be very costly to a business.
Want to learn more about disaster recovery and business continuity planning? Click here!
This is where education really shines. Roughly 85% of data breaches have a ‘human aspect’, meaning that most data breaches are caused by staff accidentally leaking data, or letting an attacker in through phishing scams and other common methods.
Your IT audit should identify areas where staff awareness and understanding can be improved. This is, by far, the most important aspect of your audit.
Use what you’ve learned – build your security measures!
Once you’ve finished the research stage, and you’ve isolated your IT vulnerabilities, it’s time to put a plan in place.
- Arrange training sessions – Educate every member of your team on how to spot cyberattacks, and what key vulnerabilities to keep an eye out for. If everyone’s looking out for your cyber security, the whole process becomes a lot easier.
- Update antivirus and firewalls – This one might seem a little obvious, but making sure your antivirus and firewall are fully up to date is crucial.
- UPDATES! Update your devices, update your security, update everything within two weeks of the update being released. Updates are designed to actively combat new cyber threats. By not installing them immediately, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
- Install anti-spam – An advanced anti-spam filter stops phishing emails from ever reaching the inbox. If it never makes it, there’s no threat!
- Adjust user privileges – Not everyone needs to be an administrator. Make sure that accounts only have access to data that they actually require. This can mitigate risk substantially.
- Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) – MFA is a superb way of stopping many attackers in their tracks by adding an extra layer of security protocol.
- Backup data regularly – Backups are a little monotonous, and hopefully you’ll never need them, but they’re essential to have just in case. Cloud solutions make backing your data up significantly easier! Not backing up your data is like driving without insurance; if something goes wrong, you’re in trouble.
Your security measures should include all decision makers, stakeholders and key team members. It’s important to lay out costs and to understand how your IT audit will affect the business.
One important note: do not skimp on cyber security. Yes, it can seem expensive, there’s no point in sugar coating it, but the cost of a data breach, and the subsequent repair costs far outweigh the costs of security.
It’s easy to cut costs, we’ve seen many businesses do it, but it’s really not worth it, trust us.
Test, test and test some more
Cyberattacks constantly change, so your cyber security needs to keep up. If you don’t adjust your cyber security regularly, then you’re asking for trouble.
Once you’ve adjusted your methods, perform another IT audit a few months down the line. How have your security measures been performing, and how confident do your people feel about tackling cyber security issues?
Choose a reliable IT partner
There’s no reason to perform your IT audit alone. A reliable IT partner will secure your organisation, take the stress away and prevent costly data breaches.
At Nebula IT, we believe that technology should accelerate growth, not hamper it. We work closely with our clients to build cyber security systems that are fully tailored to their unique needs.
Should you need any support with your IT audit, or if you’ve got any questions about our processes, get in touch with us today. Our specialists are on hand to help in any way possible.