Can Auditing Improve Your IT Security?

    Audits come in many shapes and sizes, and most can be leveraged to improve your IT security. Whether you’re involved in a technically focused audit for PCI compliance, or something more observational like an operational audit, there are ways you can swing the process to the benefit of your overall IT security posture. How? Read on and find out.

    Compliance focused audits are a great motivation to improve your IT security. They are also a great budget driver to purchase appropriate technical safeguards to meet compliance objectives, which should also raise the bar when it comes to your IT security posture.  While you’re looking through your systems to ensure that the right safeguards are in place, you have a great opportunity to look around and judge the state of your current IT security systems. General audits, like those that involve network mapping and inventorying, provide much of the same opportunities.

    It’s clear enough to see how compliance focused audits can benefit a business’s IT security; however, that raises a question:

    How can something as non-technical as an operational audit improve a business’s IT security?

    Operational audits are meant to look at a business as a whole and systematically review the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of operations. Many businesses underspend on security. As a result, their security processes can be a hindrance to their IT departments, and potentially on other departments as well. If it’s taking your IT department hours to respond to simple things like password reset requests because they’re constantly running around putting out fires caused by substandard security, that’s something an operational auditor should be able to notice. From there, they often provide one of two recommendations, both of which can greatly help to improve your IT security.

    Recommendation 1 - Dedicate more budget to IT security

    “Having the right tools in place can drive process efficiency, and make it easier to increase IT security effectiveness while reducing risk.”

    Increasing your IT security budget will allow you to invest in more effective security solutions, rather than the substandard software you may have previously had to work with. While security is a process and not a product, having the right tools in place can drive process efficiency, and make it easier to increase IT security effectiveness while reducing risk. This may include automating many of your IT security tasks through the introduction of a remote monitoring and management (RMM) system, or the deployment of a password management system to reduce the tedious tasks of changing, auditing, and monitoring credentials across your organization. Whatever you decide on, just ensure that you invest the time and do your homework; that way you will get the greatest possible return on your investments.

    Recommendation 2 - Get more out of your IT staff

    “Getting the most out of a smaller workforce by leveraging software to confirm their results while automating some of their workload is the best path to take.“

    Where it’s an option, human capital will trump technology.  Educated security practitioners can accomplish far more with their knowledge and experience than any piece of security software. Unfortunately, no matter how much expertise a person has, they are still only human. They can make mistakes, they have limitations and, above all else, they require a costly amount of resources to maintain. As such, getting the most out of a smaller workforce by leveraging software that confirms their results, while also automating many of their tasks, is the best path to take. In doing this you will be able to do more with the staff you have, while allowing those skilled staff members to focus on adding the most security value.

    Whether you wind up scrutinizing your current security practices, or scrutinizing the intern your operational auditor served up as a sacrifice, audits can greatly benefit your IT security as a whole. Audits aren’t the be-all end-all of the IT security story though. Regular audits are one of many things necessary to keep a business above the security poverty line.

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