An IT security audit is the most effective tool for companies to detect their main vulnerabilities and risks and take the necessary steps to eliminate them or at least minimise their consequences.

In this article, we will outline the keys to conducting an effective IT security audit.

What is an IT security audit and what is it for?

An IT security audit is a process of analysis and assessment of the IT security status of a company, business or organisation, where the following aspects are carefully analysed, among others:

  • The procedures, measures and security policy defined by the company and the extent to which it is or is not complied with.

  • Vulnerability, risks and areas for improvement.

  • Measures necessary to deal with the IT security problems detected, in order to optimise the system both now and in the future.

The usefulness of an IT audit is undeniable, as it allows us to anticipate risks and provide the means to avoid them or minimise their consequences in potentially vulnerable areas, serious losses being possible, if the necessary measures are not taken.

A computer attack can lead to problems ranging from the loss of credibility and confidence among a company’s customers, partners or suppliers to termination of the organisation’s activity. There is also the risk of receiving very heavy fines for not complying with the Organic Law on Data Protection and Guarantee of Digital Rights.

The stages of an IT audit

An audit can be performed by the company’s own employees, or entrusted to external auditors, specialised professionals who will issue a detailed report and take appropriate measures based on an objective analysis.

There is no single type of IT audit or way of carrying it out. However, the following stages are common to the vast majority of audits:

  • Analysis of the initial situation. A study is made of the current situation of the company in matters that may affect its IT security: hardware and software used, antivirus programs available, company security measures and policies, training and awareness raising among employees regarding IT security issues, level of compliance with the Data Protection Act, etc.

  • Definition of audit objectives and planning. Once the initial situation of the company is known, objectives can be defined and, based on these, the entire audit can be planned, taking into account the human and technical resources that will be necessary, the time needed to complete it, etc.

  • Report on defects and risks and the solutions needed. After the two previous stages, we will have a detailed list of the vulnerabilities and risks detected. Detailed solutions are then proposed for each of the defects: measures to be taken, the investment required, resources needed, schedule for completion, etc.

  • Implementation of the measures needed. The last stage in the audit should be the implementation of all the measures needed to address the security defects and reduce risks: changes or updates of hardware, software and antivirus programs, network security measures, implementation of the latest requirements in data protection and digital security, employee training, etc.

Factors to be analysed in an IT audit

While the above stages are being completed, the following factors, at least, will be reviewed and assessed in a company IT audit:

    • The company’s IT security procedures and policies.

    • Security analysis of equipment (hardware and software) and networks.

    • Cybersecurity protocols. 

    • Verification of compliance with current legislation on data protection and cybersecurity.

    • IT security awareness and training among employees.

The best strategy a company can adopt with regard to cybersecurity is to take all possible measures to prevent the risk or danger from materialising and, if a cyber-attack or an IT incident should occur, to have sufficient insurance cover to pay compensation to third parties or enable the company itself to face financial losses, lost production or other issues.

In this regard, it is highly advisable to take out a comprehensive IT security policy that includes audits, prevention and protection measures and, if necessary, compensation to avoid or minimise the consequences of cyber-crime and other IT crises.

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