We have recently witnessed a growing number of cyber-crimes prevailing in industries worldwide. While most regulatory and governing bodies are stepping up to prevent such incidents, it is yet evident that no business or industry can be 100% immune to the evolving threat landscape. That said, it is imperative for a business to be proactive in addressing any such potential threats and attacks and have an effective cybersecurity strategy in place. This is exactly when and where an IT security audit can be helpful. A good amount of threats can be deterred by establishing a strong defense system against cyber-crime. This can be achieved with an effective evaluation process such as Information Security Audits that helps determine threats, establish security controls and further enhance the overall security of the business Infrastructure and business operations. Covering more on this particular aspect in detail we have shared 10 reasons why Information Security Audit is important for businesses. But before that let us first understand the meaning of Information security audit to understand its benefits better.
What is Information Security Audit?
Information Security Audit is an evaluation process that assesses an organization’s established security practices. It is a process that determines the effectiveness of the defense systems established against any threats. The Information Security Audit typically includes vulnerability scans, penetration testing, network assessments, and much more that help determines vulnerabilities and security loopholes in the IT systems. The audit is a combination of administrative, physical hardware, software application, and network assessment. This way, the evaluation process can help a company/organization gain an understanding of its current security posture.
Popular Information Security Audit Standards
Addressing the growing need for strong IT security standards governing bodies and regulators from around the world have established a robust Information Security Standard which is a mandate in their region. While some of them apply broadly to the entire IT industry, many Information Security Audit standards that are developed are industry-specific. So here is a list of some very popular Information Security Audit Standards in the industry.
ISO Compliance: The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides guidelines for organizations that ensure the security, reliability, availability of IT infrastructure. The ISO/IEC 27001 which is known for its Information Security Management system requirements is a very popular and widely accepted international standard for Information Security.
HIPAA Security Rule: The HIPAA Compliance comprising of the Security Rules specify requirements pertaining to the methods or techniques an organization is expected to adopt to protect patients’ Personal Health Information (PHI) or (ePHI).
PCI DSS Compliance: PCI DSS compliance standard applies to organizations dealing with the payment card data of the customer. This standard is designed to ensure the protection of payment card data involving online payment transactions.
Importance of Information Security Audit
An Information Security Audit is an evaluation process that helps identify vulnerabilities and security risks in an organization’s IT Infrastructure. Risk exposure does not just impact the security of systems and Infrastructure but also affects the overall business operation. Information Security is not just about IT security, but also Information/Data security. So, here is why we strongly believe that Information Security Audit is essential for every organization and should be a regular practice adopted by businesses to stay secure and compliant.
1. Determines the Current Security Posture
Information Security Audit clearly helps the organization determine its current security status. The audit results organizations will know whether or not their security defense is effective against threats. With this, the organization can gain a better understanding of their internal and external IT practices and system. Audit reports comprise a detailed list of findings, highlighting weak areas and certain proposed solutions. The report will further guide businesses to improve their security policies, procedures, controls, and practices.
2. Determines the need for Change in Policies and Standards
The information Audit process helps discover weak areas and loopholes in security systems and controls. It highlights the effectiveness of the organization’s IT security system. The reports generated from the audit findings will suggest whether or not the security policies, procedures, and control in place are adequate for securing the organization. Proposed solutions and feedback will guide organizations in making the necessary changes in the security system, standards and policies.
3. Protect IT System & Infrastructure against Attacks
Information Security Audit is a way for organizations to evaluate their security systems and identify flaws in them. The assessment helps in identifying vulnerabilities and discovering any potential entry points and security flaws that hackers may compromise to gain access into systems and networks. This way the audit helps keep a regular check on the effectiveness of security measures that in turn keeps valuable data safe.
4. Evaluates the Security of Data Flow
Not only does the Information Security Audit keep a check on the security of systems and networks, but also ensures the security of business-critical data. Data is today an essential asset of any organization. Given the value that it holds, securing data is today every organization’s top priority. That said, the Information Security Audit determines the data flow throughout the organization. Further, the results or findings obtained from the report help organizations lay the groundwork for any improvement or enforcement of security in the network. This helps establish strong security measures against attacks and data breaches.
5. Verifies Compliance
As mentioned earlier, most regulatory and governing bodies from around the world have established strong security measures, requirements, and standards for businesses to adhere to, for protection against prevailing cybersecurity threats. Organizations are expected to ensure compliance with various standards and provide evidence for the same. So, this is when the Information Security Audit plays a key role in helping organizations stay compliant. Conducting regular audits will help the organization determine whether or not they have adequate measures implemented to achieve compliance against various security standards and certifications. The audit gives the organization a direction towards implementing measures and achieving compliance. The Information Security Audit verifies whether the organization is compliant with standards and industry best practices set by the top regulatory bodies globally.
6. Keeps Security Measures Updated
Regular Security Audits will determine whether the current measures are in place and adequate to secure against the various security threats. The audit gives a realistic picture of how effective the security measures are and whether they can withstand the evolving threat landscape. This way it keeps the security measures of the organizations advanced and updated.
7. Formulate New Security Policies & Procedures
Depending on the outcome of the Information Security Audit businesses can work on areas of improvement to fix the gap in systems. With that, they can formulate a new security policy and procedure to address the evolving threat landscape. The audit works as a guide for organizations to develop strategies to implement security controls and related policies and procedures to ensure enforcement. Overall, it helps the organization make an informed decision about upgrading its security measures.
8. Effectiveness of Security Training & Awareness
Information Security Audit highlights flaws in systems, processes, and people. So, with that, it highlights the effectiveness of the regular security training and awareness programs conducted by the organization. This gives a reality check to organizations on their efforts towards conducting regular security training and whether or not they need to improve the program in any way.
9. Incident Response Management
Information Security Audits will determine the effectiveness of an organization’s Incident Response Management. It highlights the flaw in the process and prepares the organization for an unforeseen situation. The Audit reports will also highlight whether or not the current Incident Response is effective and whether organizations are prepared for an emergency like a cyber-security breach.
10. Compliment Infrastructure with IT Security
For any given organization, their IT Infrastructure and technology should match the level of security that they implement. So, an IT audit can help organizations understand the right security tools for their business. The audit helps determine whether the business needs centralized security solutions or specific software to address different risks and threats. The Information Security Audit performed by a security expert gives a detailed finding of the audit with weak areas that need to be addressed and proposed solutions for mitigating the risk and protecting the overall business.
Information Security Audits ensure an in-depth audit of an organization’s infrastructure and its security postures. It helps determine the risk exposure, detects vulnerabilities, and security flaws that may impact the security of the organization. Overall, the Information Security Audit facilitates Risk Management, Risk governance, Business Continuity & Incident Management, Third-party Risk Management, and Compliance to Industry best Standards and Regulations set by the global governing bodies and regulators of the industry.