The Vital Checklist for Cybersecurity Audits: How To Prepare For a Cybersecurity Audit

By Ankit
February 9, 2022

With constant news of cyber-attacks, it’s never been more important to ensure your business is protected. It’s estimated that around 90% of companies who experienced a data breach were initially unaware — and many still are. An audit is not the only way to check this — but it’s certainly an efficient and cost-effective way to make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect your business from hackers and other malicious cyber attackers. 

Preparing for an audit is the best way to ensure you’re ready for whatever your cybersecurity regulator wants you to do. It also reduces the chances that you’ll miss anything important when the auditor turns up on your doorstep. An audit is a serious process, and it needs to be treated as such. This article looks at exactly how to prepare for a cybersecurity audit and what steps you can take before an auditor gets anywhere near your business.

What is a Cybersecurity Audit?

A cybersecurity audit is a process of evaluating the controls of an information system, which includes the system and its environment. A cybersecurity audit is an assessment conducted by an independent entity, a leading cybersecurity firm like Cytelligence, that evaluates the efficacy of the applicable controls related to the protection of an information system. These controls are expected to protect the system and the data that resides on the system. The purpose of a cybersecurity audit is to ensure that the information systems are secure and reliable. The goal is to ensure that the system is secure against cyberattacks by assessing the controls in place to protect the system and the data. The audit is conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the system’s security controls. An audit is not a penetration test or vulnerability assessment in which the auditor scans the system looking for vulnerabilities.

The audit is a review of an organization’s systems, policies, controls, and practices to identify cybersecurity risks. Once these risks have been identified, the auditor will determine the likelihood of an incident occurring and its impact on the organization. Organizations will also want to make sure that the auditor is from a reputable firm, has experience in cybersecurity, and has audited in your industry.


Plan for Your Audit

When you are planning for your next cybersecurity audit, keep in mind that some of the things you think are already good might not be from the auditor’s perspective. The auditor will be looking for different things, and you might end up confused. You need to have a plan to ensure that your staff will be ready to answer questions. You also need to plan for your audit by informing your staff on what to expect.

The first step to preparing for a cybersecurity audit is to plan for it. Before the auditors arrive, you’ll want to make sure your team has a clear understanding of what is being audited and whether they have the resources they need to meet the audit requirements successfully. You’ll need to decide what you are going to present to the auditors and what you can leave to them to discover. This can be a tricky process, as you want to show the auditors all of your controls, but you don’t want to show them things you don’t want them to know about, such as how you are addressing a specific risk.

Secure Your Devices, Computers, and Network Infrastructure

When you have a security audit, you’ll want to be prepared to show that you’ve taken the proper measures to protect your business from cyber-attacks. A good first step is to ensure that all employees practice good security by using strong passwords, not sharing passwords, and securely storing data. You’ll want to ensure that all of your computers, servers and other devices are up to date with the latest security patches and that your network infrastructure is protected from unauthorized access. You also need to monitor your network for signs of compromise and use anti-malware to protect your network from viruses, ransomware, and other forms of attack. If you use a cloud storage provider, make sure that you encrypt your data before it is uploaded to the cloud.

Understand Your Risks and Vulnerabilities in Detail

Cybersecurity risks are constantly evolving, which is why it’s important to be vigilant in assessing your organization’s cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity audits help identify security risks and vulnerabilities, which can be addressed by implementing a cybersecurity program. Your organization’s enterprise risk management program should include a process that identifies and prioritizes security risks, and your cybersecurity audit will help you determine which risks are relevant to your organization.

Review Your Policies and Procedures for Compliance with the Law and Best Practice Standards

The importance of having policies and procedures in place is often overlooked. If you’re not sure where to start, ensure you have a data protection policy. This should be made available to staff and anyone who uses your IT systems; you need to be able to demonstrate that you’re complying with the law.

Cybersecurity auditors may be working for internal compliance purposes or for a third party who is checking your compliance with a law or industry best practice. Either way, the auditor will need access to the necessary information and documentation to prove that you are following the appropriate policies and procedures for managing your cybersecurity risks.

Get Your Employees Prepared 

A cybersecurity audit is not just a one-time event–it’s a continuous process. If you want to stand out in the eyes of your auditors, you’ll want to make sure you’re always prepared for the next audit. When the auditor arrives, make sure your employees are ready to answer any questions they may have. An auditor will usually ask your employees a series of questions to test their knowledge of company data security policies and procedures, as well as their awareness of IT controls. The auditor may ask questions about data access and control, secure disposal of sensitive documents, physical security, etc. It may be helpful to have your employees take a mock audit exam before the auditor arrives.

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