According to the survey, 68% of business leaders feel that cybersecurity is complex today. The threat landscape is changing, with more challenges than a few years back.
By 2025, cybercrime cost is expected to rise to $10.5 trillion annually. What is the company’s strategic plan to keep the business going? Security audits have proved to be efficient in maintaining a better security posture.
Let’s learn together things to do while auditing the security of an enterprise platform.
Security Audits and Various Dimensions
A security audit constitutes a comprehensive evaluation of an organization’s information systems.
This evaluation typically gauges the security of your information system by comparing it against a checklist of best practices within the industry, established standards from external sources, and applicable federal regulations.
An all-encompassing security audit has various dimensions, including:
- The physical elements of your information system and the surrounding environment where the information system is situated.
- Applications and software, including the security updates that your system administrators have already applied.
- Network vulnerabilities encompass public and private access points and the configurations of firewalls.
- The human aspect examines how employees handle, share, and store susceptible information.
- The organization’s overarching security strategy includes security policies, organizational structures, and risk evaluations.
Why Does an Organisation Need a Security Audit?
A security audit serves as a guide to pinpoint the primary information security weaknesses within your organization while evaluating how well it aligns with its predefined criteria.
These audits are essential for organizations entrusted with sensitive and confidential data, aiding in formulating risk assessment plans and strategies for mitigation.
“Security audits are tools and methodology for maintaining an information security program that is both current and effective.”
Effective security audits, usually performed once a year, should offer your team an overview of your organization’s security posture. It provides sufficient details to kickstart remediation or enhancement efforts.
What are compliance audits?
Audits with a security focus sometimes act as formal compliance audits, often conducted by third-party audit teams to achieve certifications such as ISO 27001 or attain SOC 2 attestations.
Security audits are also a way to scrutinize the security policies of your organization.
Enhancing an organization’s readiness to counter security threats.
18 Things to Do While Auditing the Security of Enterprise Comprehensively
Security audits come in various forms, but they generally involve a comprehensive evaluation of your entire IT setup.
They include scrutiny of your operating systems, servers, digital communication tools, and applications to how data is stored and collected, along with the involvement of third-party service providers.
We have mentioned a comprehensive detail of steps that are included in security audits:
1. Define Objectives and Scope
It is essential first to outline the objectives of your audits. Although every audit aims to make security posture better, setting goals for strategic growth is necessary to consider.
These objectives include data protection, fortifying network defenses, and ensuring compliance. A well-defined scope specifies the precise elements of the platform to be audited, from applications and databases to network segments and third-party integrations.
The scope makes it easier for the auditors to focus on goals and efforts. They remain purpose-driven to achieve strategic security objectives, providing a more effective and efficient evaluation.
2. Documentation Review
The second step is to collect and review all the documents. This includes security policies, procedures, and various configurations.
By thoroughly reviewing these documents, you gain insight into the established security framework and how it aligns with industry best practices.
This step not only provides a baseline for evaluation but also helps in identifying any potential gaps or deviations from established security standards.
It’s a fundamental part of the audit that ensures that the policies designed will be better in the future.
3. Vulnerability Assessment
The systematic checking of the platform for known vulnerabilities is essential. To make this process efficient, automated scanning tools are employed to pinpoint potential weaknesses in the system.
These tools help quickly identify areas where the platform may be exposed to security threats, enabling timely remediation and enhanced security.
By addressing these vulnerabilities, your company becomes more resilient to potential threats and better equipped to protect sensitive data and operations.
4. Threat Modeling
As part of the security audit, it’s essential to create a threat model tailored to the enterprise platform. This involves designing a detailed plan that identifies threats to the forum and assesses their potential impact.
By doing so, we can proactively address vulnerabilities and design security measures to mitigate these threats effectively. This threat modeling process not only helps in enhancing the platform’s security but also ensures a strategic and risk-based approach to protect critical assets and data.
5. Penetration Testing
To keep the audit most fruitful, penetration testing can be introduced. This is most important for the security audits of technology companies.
It involves simulating realistic cyberattacks to evaluate the platform’s ability to withstand such threats. During this process, the aim is to actively exploit vulnerabilities and weaknesses within the forum to ascertain the extent of potential risks.
By doing so, we gain valuable insights into the platform’s security posture, allowing for targeted improvements and enhancements.
6. Configuration Review
Thoroughly review the configurations of all elements, including servers, firewalls, databases, and applications, to align them with established security best practices.
By assessing and potentially fine-tuning these settings, we ensure that each component of the enterprise platform is optimally configured for security, minimizing vulnerabilities and reducing the potential attack surface.
7. Access Control Assessment
Access control assessment is the most crucial aspect of security audits. This is because end-point access is one of the sources of installing vulnerabilities into enterprise systems.
The objective is to identify any unauthorized access or elevated privileges that may pose security risks. Many organizations have shifted to using enterprise VPNs for securing endpoint unauthorized access. To ensure this works for your system, rectify if the VPN is not connecting.
8. Network Security Assessment
The evaluation of various network security measures, including firewall rules, intrusion detection systems, CGNAT tests, and encryption protocols.
The primary goal is pinpointing potential areas where network security can be enhanced. By conducting this assessment, we ensure that the network is well-protected against potential threats and vulnerabilities.
9. Data Security Analysis
This includes a comprehensive examination of data storage, encryption, and the mechanisms used for data transfer.
The primary objective is to guarantee that sensitive data is robustly protected throughout its lifecycle.
By scrutinizing this, we ensure that data is stored securely, transmitted safely, and protected from unauthorized access or breaches.
10. Application Security Testing
Conducting application security testing, focusing on web and mobile applications integrated into the platform, is essential.
The aim is to thoroughly assess their security posture and identify potential vulnerabilities, including common issues like SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and cross-site request forgery (CSRF).
By scrutinizing these applications for security weaknesses, we ensure resilience against cyber threats and provide a secure environment for users.
11. Incident Response Evaluation
A thorough review to gauge the effectiveness of an incident response plan in addressing security incidents.
The goal is to verify that the platform is adequately prepared to handle and mitigate potential security breaches or crises.
The cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million. 51% of organizations plan to increase cybersecurity spending this year.
12. Compliance Audit
It is essential to meet the regulations and industry standards such as GDPR, HIPAA, and ISO.
Compliance audits, part of the security audit, involve a meticulous review to ensure that the enterprise platform aligns with the legal and regulatory requirements applicable to its operation.
13. User Awareness and Training
As part of the security audit, it is essential to evaluate the security awareness among platform users and employees.
The goal is to identify areas where security training and awareness programs may be necessary to enhance security posture.
By conducting this assessment, we ensure that end users and employees are well-informed, vigilant, and equipped to play an active role in safeguarding the enterprise platform against potential threats.
14. Third-Party Audit
It’s vital to scrutinize the security practices of third-party vendors or services integrated with the platform.
80% of surveyed organizations in 2022 experienced at least one data breach caused by a third party.
This involves a comprehensive examination to ascertain that the security measures employed by these external entities do not introduce vulnerabilities or risks to the platform.
The primary objective is to safeguard the integrity and confidentiality of data and operations, ensuring that third-party involvement does not compromise the platform’s security.
15. Documentation of Findings
Documenting all findings, vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and areas of concern identified during the evaluation is the key. These findings should be meticulously categorized and prioritized based on their severity and potential impact.
By documenting these results, we create a comprehensive record that provides a clear overview of the platform’s security status, enabling informed decision-making and efficient remediation.
16. Contingency Assessment
Assessing risk in case of any breach is very important. This helps to align the funds and budget accordingly so higher costs are avoided later.
This assessment considers careful consideration of both the potential impact and likelihood of various security issues.
17. Follow-up and Verification
Consistent follow-up and verification is the key to better audits. This confirms that the recommended security improvements have been successfully implemented within the platform.
Furthermore, it entails establishing a periodic re-audit schedule to verify the ongoing effectiveness of the remediation efforts.
By systematically following up and verifying the security enhancements, we maintain the platform’s resilience against evolving threats and ensure that security measures remain robust over time.
18. Continuous Improvement
As threats and industry standards evolve, it’s essential to adapt security practices accordingly. This adaptability ensures that the organization remains resilient against emerging security challenges.
By introducing a culture of continuous improvement, you can proactively identify and address vulnerabilities, enhance security measures, and stay in sync with evolving security best practices.
Security Is Not a One-Time Effort!
To stay secure, you need to realize that security is an ongoing commitment and not a one-time effort. Security audits give us a clear picture of where we stand.
The blog has outlined the significant areas that need constant scrutiny to stay secure.
With changing security challenges, enterprises have shifted to using baseline security methods, which include using reliable VPNs, managing passwords efficiently, updating softwares and devices, and training employees about data security.
Your enterprise security audits will benefit only if you comply with regulations and make security your habit. Let’s not forget that building a better cyberspace is not one person’s job.