Hacking, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, Electronic World

Explaining Cybersecurity Audits (And the Three Tips for Running One)

You need more than the latest antivirus software to ensure your company’s network is secure. A cybersecurity audit helps you create a complete picture of your security strategy.

Cybercrime has grown into one of the epidemics of modern times. 

In 2018 alone, we saw 812.67 million instances of malware infection. Meanwhile, 2020 brought with it a 600% increase in cybercrime. And estimates state that ransomware attacks will cost companies over $6 trillion per year by 2021.

If you don’t prioritize cybersecurity, you place yourself and your company at risk of attack.

Now, it’s likely that you already have some strategies in place to combat hackers and other malicious cyber forces. However, you also need to feel sure that the measures you have in place are sufficient.

That’s where cybersecurity audits become important.

In this article, we examine what cybersecurity audits are and share some crucial tips for running one in your company.

What is a Cybersecurity Audit?

Think of an audit as a comprehensive examination of every cybersecurity strategy you’ve put in place. You have two goals with the audit:

  • Identify any gaps in your system so you can fill them.
  • Create an in-depth report that you can use to demonstrate your readiness to defend against cyber threats.

A typical audit contains three phases:

  1. Assessment
  2. Assignment
  3. Audit

In the assessment phase, you examine the existing system. 

This involves checking your company’s computers, servers, software, and databases. You’ll also review how you assign access rights and examine any hardware or software you currently have in place to defend against attacks.

The assessment phase will likely highlight some security gaps that you need to act upon. And once that’s done, you move into the assignment. 

Here, you assign appropriate solutions to the issues identified. This may also involve assigning internal professionals to the task of implementing those solutions. However, you may also find that you need to bring external contractors on board to help with implementation.

Finally, you conclude with an audit. 

This takes place after you’ve implemented your proposed solution and is intended as a final check of your new system before you release it back into the company. This audit will primarily focus on ensuring that all installations, upgrades, and patches operate as expected.

The Three Tips for a Successful Cybersecurity Audit

Now that you understand the phases of a cybersecurity audit, you need to know how to run an audit effectively such that it provides the information you need. After all, a poorly conducted audit may miss crucial security gaps, leaving your systems vulnerable to attack.

These three tips will help you conduct an effective cybersecurity audit in your company.

Tip #1 – Always Check for the Age of Existing Security Systems

There is no such thing as an evergreen security solution.

Cyber threats evolve constantly, with hackers and the like continually coming up with new ways to breach existing security protocols. Any system you’ve already implemented has an expiration date. Eventually, it will become ineffective against the new wave of cyber threats.

This means you always need to check the age of your company’s existing cybersecurity solutions.

Make sure to update your company’s systems whenever the manufacturer releases an update. But if the manufacturer no longer supports the software you’re using, this is a sign that you need to make a change.

Tip #2 – Identify Your Threats

As you conduct your company’s cybersecurity audit, continuously ask yourself where you’re likely to experience the most significant threat.

For example, when auditing a system that contains a lot of customer information, data privacy is a crucial concern. In this situation, threats arise from weak passwords, phishing attacks, and malware. 

More threats can come internally, be they from malicious employees or through the mistaken provision of access rights to employees who shouldn’t be able to see specific data.

And sometimes, employees can leak data unknowingly.

For example, allowing employees to connect their own devices to your company network creates risk because you have no control over the security of those external devices.

The point is that you need to understand the potential threats you face before you can focus on implementing any solutions.

Tip #3 – Consider How You Will Educate Employees

You’ve identified the threats and have created plans to respond.

However, those plans mean little if employees do not know how to implement them. 

If you face an emergency, such as a data breach, and your employees don’t know how to respond, the cybersecurity audit is essentially useless.

To avoid this situation, you need to educate your employees on what to look out for and how to respond to cybersecurity threats. This often involves the creation of a plan that incorporates the following details:

  • The various threat types you’ve identified and how to look out for them
  • Where the employee can go to access additional information about a threat
  • Who the employee should contact if they identify a threat
  • How long it should take to rectify the threat
  • Any rules you have in place about using external devices or accessing data stored on secure servers.

Remember, cybersecurity is not the IT department’s domain alone. It’s an ongoing concern that everybody within an organization must remain vigilant of. 

By educating employees about the threats present, and how to respond to them, you create a more robust defense against future attacks.

Audits Improve Security

Cybersecurity audits offer you a chance to evaluate your security protocols. 

They help you to identify issues and ensure that you’re up-to-date in regards to the latest cybersecurity threats. And without them, a business runs the risk of using outdated software to protect itself against ever-evolving attacks.

The need to stay up-to-date highlights the importance of cybersecurity audits.

However, your security solutions are not one-and-done. They require regular updating and re-examination to ensure they’re still fit for the purposes you’re using them for. As soon as they’re not, there will be vulnerabilities to your business that others can exploit.

Audits improve cybersecurity.

And improved cybersecurity means you and your customers can feel more confident.

If you’d like to conduct a cybersecurity audit but you’re unsure about whether you have the skills required to do so correctly, we can help. We’d love to have a quick 15-minute no-obligation chat to discuss your existing systems and how we may be able to help you to improve them.

Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.


How Xero Improved Productivity with a Digital Communication Tool (And Five More Technologies You Can Use to Boost Office Productivity)

Higher office productivity leads to faster project completion and happier customers. With these technological solutions, you empower your people to work more efficiently.

When a company scales to the point where it has millions of customers spread over 180 countries, effective internal communication is a priority. It’s an even bigger concern when that company helps small businesses to stay on top of their finances.

That is the challenge that Xero faced.

The company, which has over 3,000 employees around the world, discovered that its internal communication systems weren’t scaling well as the company grew. For years, they’d used an internal email system to enable employees to communicate. However, they discovered that that system was breaking down, resulting in customer requests and queries getting lost.

How could Xero solve the problem?

They used an online tool that allowed the company to centralize crucial information, all while enabling more efficient communication between employees.

Xero implemented the use of Slack, which offers instant messaging and the creation of specific workflow channels to improve internal communication. The company soon created dedicated channels for all of its departments, creating an increase in office productivity that benefitted both staff and customers.

As Xero has shown us, office productivity is a key concern for any employer.

The more productive your people are, the faster they’re able to complete projects. Ultimately, having more productive people leads to higher profits and happier customers.

Xero found a way to enhance their productivity through a technological communication system. 

You can do the same, and more.

Here are five more ways you can use technology to boost productivity.

Technique #1 – Use Video Conferencing

Attending meetings can be an enormous time sink, especially when attendance requires commuting to a different office. The time spent on the road is time that you cannot spend working, which creates inefficiency.

Video conferencing technology overcomes this problem.

With it, you can attend meetings from the comfort of your own office. Furthermore, many video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, allow attendees to share their computer screens when speaking. This allows for on-the-fly demonstrations of ideas that may not be possible in traditional meetings.  The ability to record these video meetings also means that attendees can review crucial details later, eliminating the need to revisit issues.

Technique #2 – Implement Time Tracking Software

As workplaces move towards increasingly digital and remote operations, time tracking becomes a key concern. 

For example, you may have virtual assistants who do not work in your physical office. This creates a lack of oversight that some unscrupulous employees may take advantage of.

Thankfully, there are several time tracking software packages available. These tools allow you to track the activities of your remote employees using several techniques. 

Some log key presses, allowing you to determine how active the employee is. Others may take screenshots of a virtual employee’s screen at random intervals during the day, allowing you to check if they’re dedicating all of the time you’re paying them for their work. These tools allow you to confront the issue of time theft. Furthermore, they allow your HR department to save time it may otherwise have to spend on manually examining and editing time logs

Technique #3 – Upgrade Your Workstations

Many businesses avoid upgrading workstations and other hardware due to the immediate cost. Replacing hundreds of computers requires an upfront investment of thousands of dollars, leading to many businesses struggling with using outdated hardware.

Unfortunately, this creates long-term issues.

While sticking with old hardware allows a business to save money in the short term, it also slows down the workforce. The hardware won’t be capable of operating at the speed required. 

Aging systems may also not be compatible with modern software solutions, meaning employees get stuck dealing with antiquated systems that aren’t fit for purpose. This leads to hours of wasted time spent waiting for old systems to do their jobs.

Upgrades may be costly in the short term. But over the long term, they lead to time savings and more efficient employees.

Technique #4 – Implement Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software

ERP software allows for simpler management of a wide range of business processes, including project management, accounting, and supply chain management. 

Think of it as a centralized database that provides employees with rapid access to the information needed to do their jobs. Instead of having to examine dozens of different spreadsheets to find what they’re looking for, they can use ERP to get what they need fast.

Having all relevant information stored in a single location eliminates soloing, allowing for more effective communication between departments. It also provides enhanced visibility to the management, allowing them to detect issues early and implement solutions quickly.

Tecnique #5 – Eliminate Manual File Sharing

Imagine that you need access to a file before you can complete the task you’re working on. So, you send an email to the person who has that file. 

However, they’re just gone out for lunch and won’t be back in the office for about an hour. That means you have to wait to gain access to the file, resulting in the completion of your task getting delayed.

These are the sorts of productivity problems that manual file-sharing creates. By eliminating the manual aspect of file sharing, you can improve office productivity immensely. 

Some of the techniques shared in this article can help you to do this. For example, you could use Slack, or other similar software, to pin key files to a channel so that employees also have access to them. 

However, it also helps to have a dedicated cloud-based file sharing platform, such as Dropbox or Box. Both allow you to create file systems with shared access, ensuring everybody who needs access to certain files can get them with no delays.

Technology Boosts Productivity

There is no getting around the fact that implementing new technological solutions often requires investments in terms of both time and money. You may need to buy new hardware or spend time training your employees.

However, the long-term productivity benefits far outweigh the short-term costs.

Each of the technologies discussed in this article empowers your people to work more efficiently. In doing so, they enable increases in office productivity that your company benefits from. 

If you need any help with installing these technologies or would like to determine which will be a good fit for your business, please schedule a 15-minute no-obligation conversation with a member of our team today.


Featured Image Credit

This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.