Cybersecurity audit time! Nobody looks forward to cyber audits. Like going to the dentist, these audits are crucial to keeping your organization in good health. However, you can take steps to make the experience smoother and less time-consuming. To get you started on the right path, let’s first confirm why cybersecurity audits are so important.
Why You Need To Support Cybersecurity Audits
In cybersecurity, there is no finish line. You can have a best in class security program today and then face new threats next week. That means that you need to regularly assess your cybersecurity program. Consider the impact of changes from the cloud and software as a service (SaaS) you use each week. Cloud software vendors are known for releasing updates frequently, which means you may face new security exposures. While cybersecurity audits took require effort, they are much faster and easier than responding to a cybersecurity incident.
Your Step-By-Step Guide To Reducing Cybersecurity Audit Time
If your cybersecurity audit starts tomorrow, most of these steps are not going to help you. However, Steps 4 and 5 will help in every situation. For the best results, use all of these steps together.
1) Review outstanding IT security problems and strategy
It’s great to have an IT security strategy and a list of outstanding problems to work on. However, management is not making progress to address problems and fulfill the strategy; you are likely to fail the audit. Don’t make the mistake of updating your strategy annually and ignoring it. Instead, set up a monthly recurring appointment where you review your strategy and progress toward solving outstanding problems.
Tip: Have you hired outside consultants to conduct penetration tests and other assessments? Make sure you act on those reports quickly or you may face audit findings for failing to take action.
2) Clarify the cybersecurity audit plan and schedule
Many managers are caught off guard when they learn about an upcoming cybersecurity audit. That sense of surprise is mainly due to a reactive approach to work. You can solve that problem quickly. If your department has not had a cybersecurity audit in more than six months, find out when the next session is planned. Pick up the phone or send an email to the auditor you worked with last time and ask about timing.
In the best-case scenario, you will find out the schedule for the next audit. If you don’t find out a specific date, make a note to follow up in two to three months to get further clarification.
3) Automate cybersecurity records and processes
In our experience, compiling records and information is one of the most time-consuming aspects of preparing for a cybersecurity audit. Typically, you will receive an email from the auditor asking for records, documents, system access and time to schedule interviews. To address this burden, we recommend leveraging IT security software solutions.
With Compliance Auditor, all access and identity change requests are automatically recorded in a central system. That means you do not have to scramble to find old emails and records to respond to a cybersecurity audit. Instead, you can simply extract records or grant access to the system, and your auditors can get their work started.
4) Designate a cybersecurity lead in each department
Communication problems cause many problems with cybersecurity audits. One request for a document comes to John, but Andrew answers it. However, John may not know that one of his colleagues answered the request. To prevent this kind of confusion, we recommend appointing a single point of contact. This person will receive all cybersecurity audit requests and manage them accordingly.
Note that this person does not have to be a cybersecurity expert, though it is helpful if they are one. It is more important that they are highly organized and have a project management mindset.
5) Change your mindset for cybersecurity audits
This guidance will help you save time in your cybersecurity audits. Rather than viewing an audit as a hostile investigation, view it as an opportunity to get a fresh perspective. Every person and organization has blind spots and needs help in identifying those issues. For example, you may have done good work in reducing inactive user accounts but neglected to update your password policy. A cybersecurity audit will equip you with a new perspective and help you make the case to executives to get additional resources.
If the audit report has significant findings, you then have the chance to shine by designing a comprehensive management plan to address those points.
What To Do Next
Cybersecurity audits are a valuable way to find gaps in your controls. However, it is important to recognize its limitations. It is not fair to expect them to test every system or check every access request. Ultimately, managers and executives need to take ownership of their departments rather than waiting for auditors to find issues. If you want to save cybersecurity audit time this year and in the future, take more steps to improve your defenses.
Here are a few ways you can keep your IT security systems and processes secure without waiting for an audit to happen.
1) Improve your IT security reporting and metrics
The reports you receive on a monthly or quarterly basis are an excellent tool to find problems and act on them. For further inspiration on this front, check out our post on IT security metrics: “Find Out if Your Access Management Program Is Successful with KPIs.”
2) Automate routine IT security administration tasks
Your company’s central IT team has limited capacity, so you need to free up their work time. You can make this happen by taking routine tasks off their plate. Instead of asking them to review password requests, hand those tasks over to a specialized chatbot like Apollo. Think of it this way, if this automation saves two hours per week, imagine what your team could accomplish.
If you want your next cybersecurity audit to take less time, your moment to act is right now.