Internal Audits are Crucial; The Stricter the Better
COVID-19 has taught the business community that it is essential to know your company’s vulnerabilities; this way you can mitigate your risk. An invaluable asset in this endeavor is the Internal Audit. And the best Internal Audit is your toughest critic. Since the audit is not customer facing, as a company you can be hard on yourself without airing your dirty laundry. The audit forces your organization to take a hard, honest look at the well-being and health of your security posture.
From a cyber-security perspective, the primary objective of the audit is to find the flaws before the hackers do. Otherwise it’s too late; game over. Your risk factors went up exponentially based upon the criticality of the risk being exposed.
While these audits can be done by employees within the organization, it’s best to engage someone outside the company, or at least outside the department being audited. This way there’s an objective view. Either way, your company must have someone competent to audit your internal security controls. Even internal departments can become so familiar with auditing their own areas, they don’t have that fresh eye of someone outside that scope. Therefore, outsourcing may be the best option.
The sign of a reputable vendor is one that finds several audit vulnerabilities against your network / information system. If no vulnerabilities are found, then it’s not a good audit, or it brings into question the caliber of work performed to evaluate your network comprehensively. Every network has vulnerabilities and flaws. There is no such thing as a risk-free network.
Some guidelines for services an Internal Audit can provide:
· Security controls from the audit should be tested annually or as deemed appropriate by the organization.
· Depending on the sensitivity of information being stored within the network, it would be in the organization’s best interest to hire an independent team to come in and do an ethical penetration test. The boundaries and scope of this test should be clearly defined and agreed upon before the procedure starts.
· Every exposed risk brings some level of criticality that the organization must be either willing to accept or choose to put a plan of action in place to remediate the risk.
o Highly sensitive information poses an extremely high risk to the organization. Businesses must ensure the vendor has in-depth knowledge of how to access those security controls adequately, so they properly test those controls.
It’s important that companies understand that value and act on those findings.
Additional value of Internal Audits is reflected by their being required for prestigious certifications, for example, ISO 27001. With respect to stakeholders, Internal Audits should be viewed as an investment rather than an expense. Treat the audit as a requirement even if it’s not. Spend time to do it right; be diligent; discuss with management budget for remediation. Take action. When you do, you are demonstrating to your organization and customers that security is important to your employees. They are also customers, stakeholders.
When you seriously take the time to look at your security posture, what you are demonstrating to your employees, clients, vendors and world is that we, as an organization, are not careless with what is most important to you: your data. That is all you’ve got. It ties you to every piece of your livelihood – your job, your friends, your credit card so you can buy groceries. When you can express that you are not careless with their information, that is something. That is why Internal Audits are crucial.