Cybersecurity Audit Services & Checklist

Audit - Blog

Cybersecurity audit services are essential to detecting and mitigating risks. Cyber threats manifest themselves in various forms, which involve non-human and human intervention. Small to medium sized businesses require frequent cybersecurity audits to identify vulnerable networks, computers, and software programs.

Typical cybersecurity audit services comprise an in-depth evaluation of operational procedures, intrusion tests, network components, and servers. The process is a hands-on technical examination of how a business’s systems operate and the implemented measures for managing its security.

An IT security audit assists enterprises to assess the protection levels implemented to mitigate risks affecting crucial assets and data. Furthermore, a cybersecurity audit service informs the development of new IT policies or customisation of existing ones to close existing gaps that may result in attacks.

Importance of a Cybersecurity Audit

The sophistication and frequency of data breaches and attacks targeting small and medium enterprises have risen steadily over the years. Maintaining strong cybersecurity is a massive challenge for small businesses due to various reasons.

Setting up a robust cyber defence to counter pervasive security threats is a prerequisite if small companies are to realise the industry-standard asset and data protection levels.

This calls for a proactive cybersecurity audit process. It is vital to appreciate that IT security audits are not a one-time process. Instead, enterprises should perform continuous audits since technological advances often change a company’s business model, creating new vulnerabilities in the information systems.

Conducting cybersecurity audits allows quick identification and remediation of risks and threats to ensure a robust cybersecurity posture.

What an Audit Should Cover

A successful cybersecurity audit should involve four main phases. These are assessing the current IT security state, identifying vulnerabilities and prioritising mitigation measures, describing the targeted IT security level, and evaluating progress towards achieving the desired cybersecurity protection.

In this regard, enterprises should use a cybersecurity audit template to prepare for an audit. A template or checklist helps businesses to align their cybersecurity approaches with industry-standard measures and controls.

A cybersecurity audit checklist should cut across the major cybersecurity domains. The domains include physical security, network security, cloud security, and technical security. 

1.  Physical security

Most businesses don’t consider physical security an integral part of overall IT security, yet maintaining physical security controls can alleviate numerous cybersecurity risks. A physical security audit checklist should consist of the following:

a.  Have you implemented policies to restrict unauthorised individuals from accessing electronic information or servers?

b.  Does your business have physical security controls, such as video monitoring, access control systems, or door locks?

c.   Does your business control access to offices via access badges, sign-in logs, reception desk, or similar?

d.  Do you provide authorised personnel to escort visitors in controlled areas?

e.  Is there sufficient physical security to protect systems and computers?

2.  Administrative security controls

Maintaining healthy administrative security controls can prevent attacks from insiders. Administrative security controls protect information and information systems from internal attacks. An administrative security control audit checklist can be categorised into personnel security, account management, and IT security policies.

2.1.            Personnel security

a.  Do employees wear ID badges bearing a clear photo to identify themselves within the business premises?

b.  Do you perform extensive background checks when hiring new employees or contractors?

2.2.            Account management

a.  Do you create unique user accounts and usernames for all system users?

b.  Have you documented all user accounts and their respective privileges?

c.  Do you have a policy for governing the use of admin accounts?

d.  Does your business have a policy for deactivating and removing admin or user accounts no longer in use?

e.  Do you provide remote users with unique credentials to access accounts remotely?

f. Do you use user needs and roles to restrict system access?

2.3.            IT security policies

a.  Have you created and implemented a robust password policy requiring users to maintain strong passwords?

b.  Do you have a multi-factor or two-factor authentication (2FA) policy?

c.  Is there a VPN (virtual private network) policy for remote users?

d.  Do you have a network segmentation policy to separate networks reserved for internal use and those for use by visitors?

e.  Do you maintain a training and awareness policy to educate system users regularly?

3.  Technical security controls

Adopting new technologies results in increased security vulnerabilities. Auditing the security controls used to protect various technologies can significantly boost your cybersecurity posture. A technical security control audit checklist can be categorised into infrastructure security, software security, cloud security, and cybersecurity.

3.1.            Infrastructure security

a.  Do you acquire your IT infrastructure and equipment from authorised vendors only?

b.  Do you download upgrades, patches, updates, and firmware from their original providers?

c.  Do you use devices with standardised operating systems in compliance with industry standards?

d.  Do all mobile devices and computers contain antivirus and antimalware protection?

e.  Do you maintain an updated inventory of all your hardware, including service tag, serial number, location, type, and name?

3.2.            Software security

a.  Does your admin maintain a whitelist of authorised applications permitted to be installed on mobile devices and computers?

b.  Do you utilise mobile device management (MDM) to protect your applications, operating systems, and applications?

c.  Have you enabled the auto-update option on all software programs, operating systems, and OS?

d.  Do you maintain a list of trusted sources for obtaining software?

e.  Do you maintain an inventory of installed software and their corresponding licenses?

f. Do you schedule antivirus scans to run at specific intervals?

3.3.            Cloud security

a.  Do you comply with the relevant data privacy and storage requirements when using cloud services?

b.  Do your SLAs with cloud providers contain clauses on disaster recovery, business continuity, and response time?

c.  Do you restrict access to cloud data to authorised users only?

d.  Have you implemented policies for dealing with cloud attacks and breaches?

3.4.            Cybersecurity

a.  Do you utilise a password manager to manage passwords?

b.  Do you have policies restring the use of unauthorised USB sticks and hard drives?

c.  Do you have a policy governing daily data backups?

d.  Have you implemented an acceptable use policy to govern the use of IT resources?

e.  Do you have a documented procedure for isolating systems with malware infections to contain an attack?

4.  Network security

The networks of small businesses are under constant attacks since they are mostly unable to adequately secure network components, such as firewalls, routers, and switches. A network security audit checklist can guide small businesses to perform a comprehensive audit.

a.  Have you implemented a firewall to secure internal networks from attacks?

b.  Is there an authorised individual responsible for configuring, documenting, and maintaining firewall rules?

c.  Do you protect devices connected to a network using Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) method?

d.  Do you use virtual or physical separation to isolate essential systems into various network segments depending on the required security?

e.  Have you configured your antivirus systems to scan web pages and files automatically to prevent malicious content from reaching the network?

Leading Players Providing Cybersecurity Audit Services

The following table describes the cybersecurity audit services and specialties of four leading players.

Accenture cybersecurity audit servicesIBM cybersecurity audit servicesSymantec cybersecurity audit servicesKPMG cybersecurity audit services
· Governance, risk, and compliance auditing, including security maturity assessment

·  Developing cybersecurity services and an implementation roadmap

·  Designing and reviewing IT security policies to align them with industry frameworks

· Third and fourth-party audits for supply chain assessments

· Disaster recovery and business continuity planning and testing
· Auditing physical security, including backups and workstations

· Auditing system values to review decisions, such as installing new applications

· Auditing individual and group profiles according to the created user accounts

·  Auditing access to critical resources based on user roles, jobs, and application programs

·  Auditing the entire system infrastructure
· Auditing physical and logical security controls

· Auditing and testing IT operations

·  Assessing information and information systems’ integrity (controls identification and process assessment)

·  Auditing the controls implemented in critical system platforms, IT infrastructure, and physical and network components that support business operations

· Reviewing IT organisation (structure and leadership)
·  Application penetration tests, security assessments, and source code review

· Auditing and analysing organisational security architecture, performing external and internal vulnerability tests, and analysing device security

·  Auditing the organisation and maturity of cybersecurity process from a people’s perspective

· Verifying system users vulnerable to attacks like phishing scams

·  Auditing the effectiveness of incident response and security monitoring

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