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In today’s digital world, it’s no surprise that cyberattacks are becoming more frequent and intense. Enterprises worldwide are trying to defend themselves against attacks such as ransomware, phishing, distributed denial of service and more.
In this challenging cybersecurity landscape, now is the time for companies to prioritize security audits. What are cybersecurity audits and how often should they be to remain safe in the threatening IT world?
Cybersecurity audits and their importance
A cybersecurity audit establishes a set of criteria organizations can use to check the preventive cybersecurity measures they have in place to ensure they’re defending themselves against ongoing threats.
Because cybersecurity risks and threats are growing more sophisticated and frequent in nature, organizations must plan and conduct cybersecurity audits regularly. In doing so, they will have continuous protection from external and internal threats.
How often companies should perform security audits
There’s no official schedule companies must follow for their cybersecurity audits, but in general, it’s recommended that they perform audits at least once a year. However, the IT landscape is changing so quickly that more audits often amount to better protection for an organization.
Businesses working with sensitive information — such as personally identifiable information — should consider conducting cybersecurity audits twice a year, if not more frequently. However, keep in mind that your company may need more time or resources to perform quarterly or monthly audits. The goal is to balance the number of audits you perform and the amount you spend on the audits themselves.
There are many types of audits out there. For example, a blended audit that combines remote and in-person auditing tasks can be helpful for global organizations with remote workers. But two types of audits — routine and event-based — are important to know.
You should certainly conduct routine audits annually or semi-annually, and event-based audits should be done when any major events happen within your IT infrastructure. For example, suppose you add servers to your network or transition to a new project management software. In that case, these “events” require you to perform another audit, as the changes could impact your cybersecurity posture.
4 Benefits of performing audits
The primary purpose of a security audit is to find weaknesses in your cybersecurity program so you can fix them before cybercriminals exploit them. It can also help companies maintain compliance with changing regulatory requirements. Here are some of the primary benefits you can reap by performing regular security audits.
1. Limits downtime
Extended downtime can cost your business a lot of money. According to Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, 40% of organizations surveyed say hourly downtime can cost them between one and five million dollars, excluding legal fees, penalties or fines.
Downtime can occur due to poor IT management or something more serious like a cybersecurity incident. Auditing is the first step companies must take to identify weaknesses that could eventually lead to downtime.
2. Reduces the chance of a cyberattack
As stated above, the main goal of a security audit is to identify vulnerabilities in your cybersecurity program. However, this is only helpful if you and your IT team develop solutions to patch these vulnerabilities and weaknesses. In doing so, you’re improving your overall cybersecurity posture and increasing your level of protection against potential cyber risks, such as malware or phishing attacks, ransomware, and business email compromise — to name a few.
3. Helps maintain client trust
Customers and clients want to know the companies they do business with prioritize physical and cybersecurity. This gives them peace of mind that their sensitive data is not at risk of being exposed, stolen or even sold on the dark web.
Maintaining client trust should be an important objective for any company offering products or services. It can help build your customer base, enhance customer loyalty, and even improve brand recognition.
4. Supports compliance efforts
Security audits are beneficial for businesses looking to take their compliance efforts up a notch. Various data privacy and protection laws are emerging to try and protect consumers and their sensitive information.
For example, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation can impact your company, especially if it has customers or does business with other organizations in the EU. It can be challenging to keep up with changing regulatory requirements. However, conducting a security audit can help IT teams ensure they’re helping their companies comply with all these rules to avoid fees or penalties.
Protect your business with regular security audits
The cybersecurity landscape is evolving rapidly, with more threats emerging and attacks becoming more sophisticated than ever before. It’s come to the point where hackers leverage advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence to launch automated attacks on enterprises. It’s critical for your business to perform regular security audits to ensure you’re protecting your assets and data. Consider performing audits on a semi-annual basis to offer the best defense against ongoing cybersecurity threats.