Networks are continuous entities that keep on changing even without the control of the administrators. With users constantly adding devices and hardware to the network infrastructure, drastic consequences can be caused on the network security. To avoid this, administrators practice regular network audit.
So, have you gone your network audit done?
What is a Network Security Audit?
A network security audit is a technical evaluation of the networks of the company that is used to assess and acquire an in-depth analysis of the organization’s security system. The audit checks policies, applications, and operating systems for security faults, weak points, and risks in order to provide solutions that improve safety and security.
During a network security audit, the IT Services Specialist analyses network security, control implementation, network availability, management practices, and overall performance. Companies use these audits to fix any possible faults, protect sensitive data and install the most reliable IT security plans.
A security network audit can be performed manually, or automatically which involves the use of network audit tools like Computer- Assisted Audit Technique software.
This article is going to outline the benefits of network security audit and the necessary network security audit checklist that will help you safeguard and maintain your network security practices and measures:
Benefits of Network Security Auditing
Network security audit helps startups as well as established companies reinforce the existing security measures and avoid compromises like a data breach. This is especially crucial in well-established industries with complex processes. The process also improves the safety of the property as well as everyone involved in the business or company besides preventing any form of theft and damage to your property. Below are some of the benefits of investing in a professional security audit and network audit tool:
- It helps in finding gaps or non-compliance in current security systems/practices.
- It gives you access to tools, recommendations and training to help close discovered gaps.
- It helps in creating an effective retention/destruction schedule for all your important documents.
Network Security Audit Checklist
Network Security Audit is a necessary process for organization that work to keep their networks and systems secure and safe. The process is meant to protect organizations from malicious activity before hackers get a chance to do any real damage. Below is a viable checklist that can be used when considering to conduct a network and security audit of your company:
Defining Your Scope
This is where an outline of the scope is established which includes the tools that will be used, the devices on the network and their OS, and the professionals to carry out the process. This step is crucial as it ensures every member of the team knows who does what and when. It also defines the security parameters that’s separates good and dangerous software while accounting for all layers of connections; whether they are wired, wireless or VPN.
The tools can be used for network security audit include Nessus, NetScanTools Pro, Netsparker and Acunetix Vulnerability Scanner.
Running the Tests to Determine the Threats
This is the execution phase where the vulnerability scanners are run through the systems and the findings analyzed and validated. It is advisable to list all the possible security threats including the most common cyber threats. These are:
- Malware (worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and ransomware)
- Employee Exposure (phishing attacks and other scams)
- Malicious Inside Attacks (misuse of sensitive information)
- DDoS Attacks (Distributed Denial of Service)
- Attacks on BYOD and IoT Devices
- Physical Breaches
Once the possible bad actors have been established, assessing them and determining the resilience of the system becomes easier. Sometimes tests have to be performed manually using HTTP proxy to ensure you have done enough it security audit and used the right network audit tool.
Some of the tests and assessments that can be incorporated in this phases include the following:
- Reevaluate your password strategies.
- Ensure the safety of sensitive data which can be achieved by limiting access, adapting the least privilege concept, allowing read-only access, and separating the sensitive data when it comes to storage.
- Inspect the servers by ensuring that all configurations are set in the right way as per their names, purposes, IP addresses, service dates, service tags, rack locations or default hosts, and operating systems. This information helps locate the right server quickly in case of an emergency.
- Assess the procedure management system and its activity log to ensure all the users are following the right guidelines.
- Examine training Logs to ensure the surety of the system does not succumb to human error. Ensure that policies have been put in place to prevent access and opening of malicious software in form of links, sharing of passwords, and using of external drives in the company computers.
- Update all the network software with the latest updates of all anti-virus and anti-malware applications
- Ensure secure internet access for all employees. Incorporating data encryption, malware scanning on all contents, bandwidth restrictions to your practices among other security policies could help establish the same.
- Penetration testing is used to test vulnerabilities and identify security gaps while conducting a network audit. Ensure you use the right network audit tools that include both static which reviews codes while the program is not running and dynamic which runs tests when the program is running.
- Assess backup strategies and reinforce the firewalls as it prevents internal attacks while enabling segmentation of network access into limited sections or areas.
Review and Analysis of the Findings
This is the phase al all the results are tabled, vulnerabilities and gaps exposed, and insights given on the possible solutions for long-term security support.
Here, the security auditor should a clear perspective of what is a network and the security threats the network is facing. Using the available data, knowledge of the industry, and experience, the auditor should establish solutions that count in the given context and risks.
Reporting Your Results
The IT Audit report is then delivered to the relevant stakeholders where plans for implementation take root. Before this happens, the report is analyzed and translated into possible business terms with solutions and risks communicated in clear language.
Follow Up Plans
Follow-up plans is all about ensuring all the stipulated risks and gaps have been fixed. Conducting a network audit and it security audit is a journey that is only complete when the issues have been fixed. This is to avoid spending a lot of money and wasting time on simple security gaps that keep bringing problems.
What is the point of performing a security audit if you are not going to do anything about the uncovered risks?
It is also important to keep to make network security audit a habit rather than a one-time event. Regular maintenance of say bi-annually or annually will ensure that all your systems are always updated and secure and the assets free from any latest cyber threats.