As a business owner, you understand the significance of data security. Repeated data breaches may result in fines or the dissolution of your organization, depending on the severity of the violation.

So you've already taken precautions to safeguard your network, such as demanding strong passwords and routinely changing them, as well as installing firewalls and security software to deter intruders. Yet, the only way to determine whether you need to take further precautions to protect your network architecture and the vast volumes of private and customer data it holds is with a network security audit.

Even if you believe your network is safe, there is no way to tell for sure until you do a complete audit. You and your company will benefit from performing a network security assessment as soon as feasible.

A network security audit is precisely what it sounds like

When you do a network security audit, you assess the complete data architecture to determine its safety. You may discover previously undisclosed vulnerabilities or weak points during the process, which your managed cyber security services partner can remedy when the thorough evaluation is concluded.

What does it entail? It will include suggestions that internal IT employees implement, the auditing business or an outsourced managed IT service provider. A follow-up audit may be performed to confirm that any discovered vulnerabilities have been resolved effectively.

Using your employees to get access to your network through a backdoor

Hackers may be located anywhere, and obtaining any data is a security violation. Thus, you must be aware of all possible methods for a hacker to access your system. Unwitting employees are a hacker's first point of contact.

Imagine an employee has installed unauthorized software in at least a few cases. This isn't always a bad thing. Others interpret it to indicate that malware will infiltrate your network in a variety of ways. They may be anything, and most regular employees have no means of knowing whether or not anything is unsafe. Hackers might then utilize their staff to wreak damage.

This can occur when a person opens an email or downloads a file that appears legitimate at first.

How simple is it to embed viruses on company laptops?

A cyber criminal is often conceived of as someone who gains access to a network through an unpatched backdoor. They may also enter through the front door, which is unfortunate. Unlike old-school spies, today's hackers have access to far more powerful tools than their forebears had, and they aren't hesitant to use them.

For instance, when new team members finish their onboarding and training, they must sign a code of conduct that governs their online behavior. If the computer is left alone for an extended time, it will begin to display warnings and slow to a crawl. If this happens, they will come to collect you. This, however, does not include their interactions with software.

The choice to set a whitelist or a blacklist of software is based on the values of your firm. A blacklist cannot account for everything that may go wrong on the internet. Whitelists, on the other hand, are useless for many people, particularly those whose occupations need extensive study.

There is no ideal answer to the challenge of governing what is published on a network everywhere. This is especially true when top personnel regularly require new software to help them execute tasks more efficiently. Hence why many companies opt to execute a network security audit performed by an experienced managed cyber security services vendor.

Even with the most stringent review systems in place, new software may pose a challenge. Even if a software package has been thoroughly tested for viruses and worms, there is no guarantee that it is ultimately virus and worm-free. People, regrettably, make mistakes, and they frequently do so at inopportune moments. Because hackers are aware of this, they use malware to acquire network access in various methods.

In addition, security breaches can occur for a variety of reasons, even when a work-related program is at fault. Employees, for example, will benefit from free video games by exploiting the company's security system. The issue is that many of these games are freeware, making them vulnerable to a range of malicious code attacks. The introduction of mobile devices into the workplace creates a lethal confluence of faults.

Why would you conduct a network security audit?

So far in 2020, the HIPAA Breach Reporting Tool has received over 100 reports, affecting millions of patients in doctors' offices and healthcare facilities around the country. Data breaches harm many people's lives and the reputations of the corporations and organizations involved. Following a security event, customers often distrust a company's capacity to secure their data, resulting in a tarnished reputation.

Is it possible to tell the difference between a network audit and a network assessment? Network audits, which track what is placed where, and network assessments, which serve a different goal, are the two types of networking evaluations.

When doing a network assessment, you're looking for problems or areas where your IT infrastructure may be enhanced. Bandwidth constraints, security problems, and resources used inefficiently or not at all are all addressed.

On the other hand, a network security audit assists organizations in addressing networking issues that have been causing problems with their networks, applications, and performance and introducing new hazards and security concerns into the system. Assessment reports provide specific recommendations for enhancing network performance, increasing network security, and lowering costs. The primary goals of security audit reports are to improve network performance, strengthen network security, and save expenses.

Is a network security audit always necessary?

When should a network audit be performed? An audit is a good idea for a multitude of reasons. It is usually scheduled to coincide with major economic or technological choices. The following are some of the reasons why a network audit may be beneficial to your company.

Inventories that are out of date and incomplete.
Have you and your team performed an audit recently? Mergers and acquisitions, new and present network application needs, budget projections and capital expenditures, and IT turnover, particularly in network infrastructure, are all variables that might vary over time.

Another option is to update or refresh your system.
Network administrators have a propensity to become involved in the network's day-to-day operations. It's what I call "keeping the lights on." Networks, on the other hand, must be regularly improved and replaced. When updating your networking equipment, this is critical. Conduct a network security audit as part of this approach to evaluate whether hardware and software should be replaced or improved.

The last thing an IT or network administrator wants to hear about is an extensive network outage, an inability to connect to the Internet, or latency difficulties affecting apps, customers, users, and partners. In this circumstance, it is the last choice for debugging the network in an emergency.

Meet regulatory and compliance requirements.
When beginning a network audit in various industries, such as banking and healthcare, regulatory and compliance requirements are crucial. HIPAA, SOC1, and other significant compliance standards such as FedRAMP, PCI, and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Internal and external auditors may use it to examine the organization's overall compliance.

Invariably, your network auditing approach should encompass the following critical areas: Unfortunately, some responsibilities will require actual labor. While specific tasks must be done by hand, others may be automated utilizing modern network auditing and analysis technologies.

Get help putting it all together.
To begin your network audit, create an inventory of your current network's components and assets. This data includes a list of all the devices connected to your network and running at each location. The physical and virtual network architecture of each area should be inspected.

It's also critical to know what managed cyber security services and companies are available in your region. Take note of the phone numbers, Internet service providers (ISPs), and network service providers you use at each location, as well as contract expiration dates and rates.

Detect when systems are no longer useful.
Check to discover if any of your gadgets or services are outmoded or reaching the end of their useful life after you've completed a thorough inventory of all of them in each location. Routers, switches, and firewalls are all included in this category. Software, licenses, versioning, and support are just a few examples of what might be included.

Defend your network the right way

Finally, network security is crucial in the auditing process. While some may fail to prioritize cyber security, others may make it the centerpiece of their whole project.

Do you need help with a network security audit? Please get in touch with SSI if you have any questions.