Does Your Current IT Provider Deliver as Expected?
Australian companies have become more exposed to online threats, especially phishing and malware. You might think that having a routine IT audit already protects your business from cyberattacks, but the way IT audit is done has a great effect on the results. Senior members and company executives’ perception of IT security policies also affect the efficiency of audits. You simply can’t expect low-level employees to follow protocols if leaders don’t comply with rules.
What Is an Audit Failure?
When conducting an IT audit, you can reduce the likelihood of errors, such as incorrect information, by reducing the scope. The chances of failure decrease when there are fewer elements involved in audits. If something’s done manually like disabling access for a departing employee, you need to have extra support for back-up systems that might fail during an audit. You can add an automated tool that will remove a person from company records, just in case a network administrator forgets to do it on the employee’s last day at work. The following scenarios can serve as your guide to avoid a poorly executed IT audit:
1. No or Outdated Policies
One of the biggest mistakes when conducting an IT audit is overlooking non-existent or old policies. At Dorks Delivered, we look for any inconsistencies of security procedures and then promptly suggest relevant updates when necessary and recommend solutions against potential threats. An IT audit report must not have any false information about your company policies. A hefty price for wrong or fraudulent data awaits offenders, especially when a government agency performs its own audit. Updated policies don’t just protect your business against online threats but also help maintain a smooth-running workflow. You can be in regulatory trouble when you still use an outdated IT audit procedure or security policy. If your annual turnover costs at least AUD 3 million, be aware of your responsibilities for reporting data breaches as per the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme.
2. No Vulnerability Scanning or Penetration Testing
IT auditors must always assume that your system is vulnerable even with an updated system. No matter how resilient your network is, it’s bound to fail at a certain point so make timely adjustments. You can prepare for this by conducting vulnerability scanning or penetration testing (PEN testing). You can choose between automated and manual tests or both for better results. Penetration testing as part of an IT audit can reveal several problems with your network architecture. Based on the result, you can fix possible entry points for hackers to stop them from circumventing preventive measures.
3. No Two-Factor Authentication for Remote Access
If you still don’t use two-factor authentication, it will be difficult to confirm who’s using your network. As more companies allow employees to work remotely, the risk of exposure to data breaches and other attacks also increases. A strong password helps, but a resourceful hacker can use techniques like social engineering to figure it out. Two-factor authentication prevents this scenario, and an IT audit should recommend the best type for your business. Codes sent to smartphones are the most common method of two-factor authentication, but you can also use token devices and smart cards as alternatives to mobile-initiated authentication.
4. No Dedicated Staff Responsible for Security
Many companies mistakenly believe that having a single IT resource is enough to take care of everything. On the contrary, IT professionals are like doctors. Each of them may have an overlap in knowledge and skills, but their expertise will vary based on their specific field of practice. For your network’s security, there should be at least one person or one team that focuses only on compliance and security tasks, and their role should be independent of other IT workers’. Getting a third-party IT audit is the best step to strengthening your network security.
5. No Disaster Recovery Plan or Business Continuity Plan
Does your IT provider offer solutions even before problems arise? Is there an updated and effective contingency plan to guarantee an uninterrupted business workflow? An IT audit becomes inefficient when you’re not prepared for the aftermath of an attack. If you haven’t encountered online threats so far, it isn’t an obvious sign of a resilient network. You may be using two-factor authentication for remote access, but do you have a back-up plan when criminals successfully bypass this line of defence? What will be your course of action once that happens? An IT audit report not only gives insights into your network security but also provides you with recommendations on how to prepare for an attack. It will help you test your disaster recovery plan or business continuity plan and keep it up to date.
6. No Centralised Log Management
Every IT audit should be documented properly. A modern, centralised log system should ideally have common features, such as collection, ingestion and aggregation. You can install collector agents on the operating system (OS) and other platforms, which will stream log files from any directory, whereas ingestion generally refers to the formatting and importing log files from servers and other external sources. Log aggregation will be truly and effectively centralised when it functions automatically and in real-time.
7. No Properly Managed Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
A well-maintained IPS monitors network traffic and stops criminals from introducing a malicious application or software. It functions as a supplementary service to a firewall. It alerts network administrators of supposed threats, blocks traffic from the identified source, resets the Internet connection and fixes malicious packets if the hacker already initiated the attack. Most online threats require an Internet connection, so skilled hackers need to have physical access to your computers and servers before they can perform advanced attacks. However, you need to focus more on preventing insider threats than intruders with unauthorised access to company premises. An IT audit can help you identify potential culprits for data breaches even when your system isn’t online.
8. No Data Loss Prevention (DLP) or Critical Data Control Plan
A third-party IT audit will evaluate your employees’ observance of DLP protocols. Data loss can happen either due to human error or intervention of employees with malicious intentions. The truth is your employees are a bigger threat than cybercriminals, so we always include checking data loss and data control plan at endpoints as well as in emails or critical applications.
9. No Patching
Are you still using Windows XP for your computers? You can’t apply a new patch to update an old OS without expecting disastrous results. An IT audit can help you determine how to manage and monitor patches or when it’s time to rollback patches in case things don’t happen as expected.
10. No Network Architecture and Data Flow Map
Network security audits often assess system architecture, but the quality of an IT audit becomes questionable when you don’t have a complete network diagram for hardware and software resources. At Dorks Delivered, we follow a compliance and security framework for audits to avoid oversights. The framework can have different functions such as identification, protection, detection, response and recovery measures.
The Negative Consequences of Non-Compliance
An IT audit is not making a big deal out of nothing or simply nit-picking on small matters. It helps you avoid non-compliance, which can be dangerous for your company. Some independent audits impose a greater level of authority like those from the Australian Cyber Security Centre or the Office of The Australian Information Commissioner. Both government agencies can disclose the outcome of their audits to the public. When your stakeholders, clients or business partners find out about your non-compliance with certain IT policy changes or recommendations, it can hurt your reputation. The negative impact becomes greater when the audit focused on your company’s network security after a cyberattack.
The Final Word
Even if you are satisfied with your current IT system, it won’t hurt to contact a IT consulting for an audit. You don’t need to spend a lot of time and money when sitting down with another expert. In fact, an IT audit can be done in the background without any interruptions on your usual processes. Want to know more? Call us today and let’s discuss how an IT audit works.