One major issue with security breaches is that often, the victims aren’t even aware of the problem that led to the breach until it’s too late. It’s only via the process of investigating the breach and working backwards that IT teams identify vulnerabilities and security holes that should have been closed.

Because waiting until a problem occurs doesn’t make much sense, most businesses conduct network security audits on at least an annual basis to identify and mitigate potential security issues before they become costly problems. Even companies that use the best network solutions and place a top priority on security can still have issues that may present a risk, but even so security audits are the most dreaded time of year for many IT and security managers.

When done properly, audits involve experts from outside the organization poking around and questioning everything you do — and identifying places where you could be doing things better, including investing in a stronger cloud security solution. It’s this dislike of the auditing process that often leads companies to forgo it all together, or to conduct audits that don’t dig deep enough to really find problems that need fixing.

Even companies that engage in the audit process correctly can make mistakes, though. In fact, most companies make at least some of the most common mistakes. Correcting them can make a significant difference in your overall security — and make the audit process go more smoothly.

Not Doing the Audit At All

It sounds obvious, but the biggest mistake companies make when it comes to security audits is to not do them at all. Audits can be time-consuming and expensive, especially when they discover weaknesses that need correcting. However, annual audits are important because they help establish your security baseline, and ensure that you are using the most up-to-date and advanced protections possible.

In addition, experts note that several years of audits by different companies with similar results lend credibility to your security measures. If your results are suddenly much different, it’s time to investigate why. Therefore, despite the work that goes into an audit, it’s vitally important that it happen.

Not Considering All Scenarios

One of the marks of a successful audit is that it tests a wide variety of scenarios to discover security loopholes. Many companies, though, aren’t willing to consider unusual scenarios, or dismiss possibilities out of hand without considering that they could actually happen. The result is an incomplete audit that only tells part of the story. You might think, for example, that it would be impossible for a breach to stem from a contractor who worked in your business for a few days over six months ago, but that’s not true. You need to look at security from every potential angle, no matter how wild and crazy it might seem.

Not Involving the Right People

Some companies try to save time and money by conducting internal audits. While this is helpful in the sense that you can stay on top of projects and identify what needs to be done, it takes a fresh set of eyes to identify holes you may have missed and scenarios that you haven’t considered. Hiring an outside auditing team is necessary, then, but you have to hire the right firm.
Don’t hire someone just because they claim to be an “ethical hacker” or have a string of certifications. Look for a reputable, experienced firm that has work on security projects and knows how to implement and support IT networks and solutions. Get references. Hiring the right auditors will save a lot of time and headaches down the road, and improve your results.

Not Turning the Audit Results Into Actionable Ideas

All too often, security audits result in little more than a report that is presented during a meeting, and little else. In some companies, audit results don’t lead to anything more than a blame game, with management fixating on the security mistakes and who to blame for them, rather than turning to the experts to find solutions.

The fact is, IT security is always changing, and the solutions that worked even a year ago may be obsolete today. Instead of using the audit results as a very expensive paperweight, or as a means to identify who isn’t performing up-to-par, the audit should be the first step toward developing an actionable security plan, one that closes all of the loopholes and reduces the companies risk.

Some experts even suggest using the results of a security audit as a means of changing the company culture to one that is security focused. By sharing the lessons learned in the audit, you can show employees why they need to follow security directives, and make security “everyone’s job.” And that, perhaps more than anything, can help keep your organization safe from a breach.

This post provided by Pablo Villalobos