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How a Security Audit Can Help Your Small Business

How a Security Audit Can Help Your Small Business

If you think that only large corporations suffer from cyberattacks, think twice. Cybercriminals often prefer the path of least resistance, which makes SMEs the perfect target. Only last year 1.4 m British SMEs fell victim to security incidents.

Knowing this, a holistic security approach becomes a must to ensure protection of your business and your customers, and since the threat landscape is continuously evolving, regular audits of your chosen security strategy are just as important. To do this, you can engage your in-house team or hire an outside IT consulting company to leverage its expertise and bring a new perspective to your strategy to protect your business.

These scheduled health checks will help you find security loopholes and vulnerabilities before cybercriminals can damage your business. Here are some additional tips to help you start completing successful security audits.

IT Infrastructure and Systems Audit

A well-planned security audit starts with evaluation of your underlying IT infrastructure which includes software, hardware, and all systems that underpin your business operations. A comprehensive assessment of these IT assets will provide you with a list of faulty modules, if any, and software that needs to be upgraded. While examining your IT assets from a security perspective, you can also gauge the efficiency of different IT resources and understand what can be optimized in order to decrease downtime.

Network Security Assessment

Data breaches keep grabbing headlines with over 4 billion records breached this year alone, and while large corporations have the resources to fight the consequences, 60% of small businesses go out of business within six months after a cyberattack. To gain access to your sensitive information, cybercriminals exploit network vulnerabilities like outdated firewalls, weak security credentials, misconfigured ports, rogue devices, and other weaknesses.

By running a regular network security audit, you can detect security flaws before intruders have the chance to leverage those against you. External vulnerability assessments ensure your network perimeter — your first line of defense — is protected against malicious cyberattacks, but since not all threats originate from the outside, internal vulnerability scanning is necessary to guarantee that corporate privileges are not misused.

Data Privacy and Compliance Audit

With user data becoming the lifeblood of business, numerous standards and regulations are emerging to protect personal information. GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and other directives put pressure on companies to protect user data as the average cost of a citation for non-compliance was estimated $30,651.

Timely data privacy audits can reveal any compliance issues before they result in hefty fines by mapping data flows and analyzing how personal information is collected, stored, transmitted, used, and disposed of.

Employee-owned mobile devices can also contribute to data security and privacy risks as sensitive corporate data may be leaked or shared through unauthorized channels. A data compliance audit also covers enterprise BYOD policies and provides recommendations on a suitable mobile device management (MDM) system if not already used by the company.

Disaster Recovery Plan Audit

No one can avoid unforeseen events but if your business is unprepared, then you are at risk to suffer the most from surprising circumstances. In fact, 73% SMBs fail to prioritize disaster readiness as stated in a research by IT Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council.

A comprehensive security audit not only reveals whether you have a proper disaster recovery plan in place but if it is up-to-date and includes all critical IT layers of your key business applications. A DRP audit covers regular backup processes, emergency response actions, data recovery procedures, as well as effective communication channels. An expert auditor will also review the established procedures for employee education since for any DRP to be effective, it is imperative to regularly train staff to act quickly and efficiently under different scenarios.

With Security, Ignorance Is Never Bliss

As cyberattacks are becoming more widespread and increasingly sophisticated, professional security audits help SMEs significantly improve their security posture. By regularly assessing your internal systems, processes, and procedures, you can better protect your business against the threats of the digital world.

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by Olga Ezzheva // Olga Ezzheva is a technical writer at Oxagile, a provider of software engineering and IT consulting services for SMEs and Fortune 500 companies alike. You can reach Olga at [email protected] or connect via LinkedIn.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.