Everyone wants to keep their IT in tip-top form. Your business technology aids in both profitability and efficiency. You do not want to be messing with downtime. You also want to avoid violating any industry norms or standards.
But how can a company assess its IT fitness?
This is where IT security assessments, audits, and penetration testing come in.
To begin with, realize that IT audits and security assessments are not the same thing. Both are critical to your company's risk management practices. Nonetheless, they have unique objectives.
The IT audit will determine if your business is on par with current regulations or guidelines. The audit is almost always conducted by a third party well versed in your industry's best practices. The auditor will check your processes, data procedures, control systems, and policies. In addition, they will check all of these against standards established by government regulation or industry association standards.
Some industries need an external audit for certification. An example would be merchants that require the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard certification. In this example, auditors would provide a Report on Compliance (ROC) detailing how the cardholder's data is protected.
IT auditors should have deep knowledge and understanding of the guidelines and standards. They will dig down into the details of your IT environment and identify any shortcomings. Then, the auditors will provide recommendations on how to improve these shortcomings.
However, failing to maintain regulatory standards during an audit can lead to compliance challenges. This is why security assessments are also a good idea.
The Importance of Security Assessments
The security assessment can be performed internally or with the assistance of an IT consultant. Of course, if there are standards or regulations, there will be overlap with the audit. The security assessment analyzes what you are doing well and what you could be doing better.
This needs to be viewed as a proactive step and preventative measure to identify and correct any flaws. In addition, consistent security assessments serve as benchmarks and help prepare for a rigorous IT audit.
Any significant business change should be followed by a high-level security evaluation. It can aid in determining whether or not new risk factors have emerged.
Vulnerability & Penetration Testing
You'll almost certainly hear about vulnerability assessments and penetration testing as well. These are two more security services for SMBs that are frequently misunderstood. They, like the two previously discussed (audits and assessments), have differences.
A vulnerability assessment is a component of a security assessment; however, a vulnerability scan is automated, whereas a security assessment includes components that require manual inquiry.
A vulnerability assessment searches the company network for security flaws. The best results will tell you which vulnerabilities are the most critical.
This is taken to the next level with penetration testing. This testing is performed by professionals who have prior experience overcoming security barriers. This testing aims to exploit the vulnerability assessment's flaws. This allows your company to identify areas where it is genuinely vulnerable to unwanted network access.
The vulnerability assessment is often performed more frequently. In comparison, the more in-depth penetration testing is more likely to be an annual event. The advantage of penetration testing is that you will also receive a report with recommended remediations.
Want to get a head start? Grab a copy of The Devil You Know: Insider Threats to Business Cyber Security. It gets you started by sharing essential information you need to detect and prevent insider threats.
Would you like to discuss ITSM processes and IT policies to improve your IT service operations and security? Feel free to reach out, and we can do a Rhino Walk-N-Talk to start finding solutions.
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