Cyber security is the protection of systems, networks and data from attack. Cyber security audits examine the threats, vulnerabilities ad risks facing your organisation and address how to mitigate these risks. When assessing your cyber security there are three key areas to take into account: people, processes and technology. Thorough audits should be performed regularly not only to protect your organisation but also to comply with legislation regarding protection of personal data.
Within a cyber security audit it is necessary to assess the availability and strength of plans for when things go wrong. Your response policy must be tested to see how it performs under pressure. An effective crisis management plan helps to ensure business continuity in the midst of security breakdown and also to quickly mitigate repercussions. Some such repercussions are loss of reputation, legal action and damage to those whose data is affected. A crucial foundation of incident response is rapid detection. Automated detection tools should be in place to facilitate early discovery.
Users as the Biggest Security Risk
Users are more often than not the cause of cyber security breaches. Be this accidental, through lack of education, or deliberate, by a disgruntled employee. Despite there being little we can do about the latter, there is much to be done about lack of education and knowledge. Thorough cyber security education and regular refreshers helps to ensure your staff remain vigilant to any potential breaches e.g. phishing emails, malware attachments and suspicious activity. Cyber security training is the silver bullet of cyber security.
Cyber Security Evolution
Cyber security is a rapidly evolving field with criminals working relentlessly to overcome new technology safeguards and find innovative ways to infiltrate our systems. For this reason, a stagnant approach to cyber security is incredibly dangerous. You must make sure that you are keeping up-to-date with recent security advancements and not leaving your business vulnerable to attack. Frequent audits are vital in identifying and addressing new risks. Immediately updating software to the newest versions safeguards your systems, but this alone is nowhere near enough. Patches are a set of changes made to a computer program with the intention of updating, fixing or improving it. Some patches fix security vulnerabilities and are crucial in protecting your program from attackers. Some vulnerabilities discovered in audits can be addressed by patch usage.
Why are Cyber Security Audits Important?
Cyber security audits are essential in allowing you to identify vulnerabilities in your organisation before they are exploited. Were these vulnerabilities to be exploited by cyber criminals, you may find yourself the victim of cyber-crime. Individuals’ personal data is often unlawfully obtained in cyber security breaches. Not only can this have frightful effects on the individual affected, such as identity theft, but it can also damage your business.
Since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced on 25th May 2018, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has been able to issue fines up to €20 million or 4% of your annual turnover, whichever is greater, for a serious data breach. Some security breaches seek to disrupt your system’s processing, demanding you to pay before functions are restored. For example, they may encrypt files. This type of attack is called ransomware. In 2017 the NHS suffered a “WannaCry” ransomware attack in which files were corrupted. Employees received phishing emails that released the malware into their system. The attack had staff resorting to pen and paper and turning patients away. Thorough staff training to identify phishing scams could have prevented this harmful breach. In order to protect your business against this plethora of adverse effects, you must perform regular cyber security audits to identify any vulnerabilities.