The degree to which your network architecture and data are safeguarded from outside attacks and threats from within depends on the strength of your cyber security infrastructure. As the number and sophistication of attacks grows each year, it becomes all the more important to defend against and mitigate them effectively. Developing a cyber security audit checklist will give you a way to quantify your resources and learn about your vulnerabilities so that you can map out solutions.
Planning Against Breaches
In the modern security milieu, your best strategy is to keep two steps ahead of threat actors whenever possible. Your first task is to take an honest look at the big picture, including all of your hardware, software, website practices and protocols. To the best of your ability, answer the following questions:
- What data and other sensitive information would be impacted by a breach?
- In what ways would an attack affect the operations of your business, including your customers and vendors, finances and the reputation of your brand?
- What industry-related compliance requirements must you follow, and how do you plan to do so?
- Have you created an IT security audit checklist in the past? Did you ever use it in a formal risk assessment? If so, which areas were covered and which were omitted?
- Do you share information with external entities and in what ways? Do you have weaknesses in your site or network as a result?
- Do you have security incident response and business recovery plans in place specifying who gets notified and when in the event of an attack as well as what procedures will go into effect?
- What is your cybersecurity budget?
Once your IT and management teams review these important questions, you can move on to focus on the various types of dangers that you must protect your systems against.
As you create your cybersecurity assessment checklist, you need to remember what types of menaces that these technologies, solutions and practices are meant to guard against. The ones we tend to hear about most come from outside sources, including cyber criminals who are motivated by greed, nation states with patriotic intentions, spies looking to commit espionage and steal your trade secrets and bad actors hoping to access your systems via phishing schemes and other methods that use email and file attachments laden with malware.
In addition to these threats that come from outside, your security team must work to keep your systems safe from internal attack. Whether deliberate or not, the following scenarios can harm your enterprise:
- Disgruntled employees with access to sensitive data and whose behaviors often take longer to detect because of their privileged status;
- Workers who have left the organization but whose credentials were never revoked or terminated;
- Poor password management leading to vulnerabilities;
- Users downloading malicious code from websites;
- Installing unauthorized applications on a computer or smartphone;
- Using unauthorized networks or tools.
In many ways, it is more difficult to secure your organization against breaches that result from staff’s sins of omission or commission. That is why a multi-layered cybersecurity landscape is one of the most necessary solutions in which your business should invest. Using various human and automated tools and techniques, your security system can check accesses, review patterns and logs and mount defenses against any perceived threat it detects.
Your Cybersecurity Audit Checklist And Budgeting
It is no secret that cybersecurity is not cheap. However, having it in place and communicating that fact to every client, vendor, customer and investor will go a long way toward giving you the credibility you need. After all, you do not want to merely be in operation today; proving your company’s long-term stability in the eyes of stakeholders is essential.
To that end, the following is a general list of the top security-related items you will need to purchase:
- Attack detection and prevention software and hardware defenses;
- Monitoring and controlling network and product access;
- Incident response team;
- Cloud security providers;
- Compliance and audit consultants.
In the event of a breach, your business will experience several effects:
- Possible interruption of services and loss of productivity;
- Regulatory penalties;
- The cost of marketing and advertising to re-establish sales and boost reputation;
- Cost of notifying customers;
- Legal fees;
- Cost of hiring new staff and training existing personnel on new security strategies.
Think of your cybersecurity checklist as an assessment tool that allows you to understand your current resources and deficits. Armed with this knowledge, you will be better able to connect with the remediative tools and strategies that can help you to protect your valuable web and data assets.