How To Run A Cybersecurity Audit At Your Business

A hacker will attack every 39 seconds. This is according to a study conducted by the University of Maryland. Hackerpocalypse estimates cybercrime will cost global businesses at least $6 trillion by 2021. Fortune 500 companies have been the target of most data breaches during the first and second quarter of 2020. The hackers intended to sell account credentials, confidential financial information, and sensitive data. At least 16 billion records were exposed to cybercriminals and according to the study, this was 273 percent up compared to last year’s data.

These statistics indicate that most measures taken by cybersecurity experts are not working. Mitigating such risks requires effective cyber defense strategies and security controls. Unfortunately, the popular security stack of firewall and anti-virus software seems inadequate to counter breaches. To effectively cut down these numbers, a radical shift in mindset is necessary. The industry must stop paying attention to cybersecurity once a cyber event takes place. Ideally, most security departments have been wired to take action whenever a threat occurs. Such a mind-shift is inferior and will only open up businesses to cyber threats in future. Even after a cyber event takes place. 

Businesses must conduct self-audits and position themselves in a way that counters a data breach. Cybercrime is frustrating and frightening for all industry players, including consumers,  small and big businesses alike. This is why a company should take proper steps to run a successful cybersecurity audit.

Define your Priorities

General Data Protection Regulation requires businesses to have a Data Protection Officer.  This officer is responsible for keeping track of all data that goes in and out of the business. Furthermore, the officer is also responsible for conducting an internal security audit.  A top checklist for the officer is listing all assets to determine how far the audit will stretch. These assets could be anything from computer equipment, customer data, company information, and sensitive business information. The assets also include anything in which the company allocates time, money, and resources for the successful running of the business. For example communication systems and internal documentation.

What are the Potential Threats

Assets potential threats. These could be weak passwords, insecure infrastructure, company, and customer data. Most might think a Denial Of Service attack will only take place virtually. This is untrue since a physical breach such as fire might be the beginning of a bigger virtual DoS.  Sometimes even natural calamities like floods could cause such attacks. Therefore put in mind any possible threat facing the business. Consider the following checklist of frequent security threats:

  1. Phishing attacks – The majority of phishing attacks are motivated by the need for financial prospects. Phishing experts usually target sensitive information that would enable them to stage successive attacks for stealing money or selling crucial information.
  2. Weak Passwords – In at least 81 percent of breaches in 2017, hackers took advantage of weak passwords. Usually, weak passwords are the first step taken by hackers to exploit systems.
  3. Internal Threats – Sometimes the criminal is not far away. Think of someone inside the business trying to harm the business. It could also be an accidental breach from the inside. However, malicious or accidental, businesses should take into account any conceivable risk.
  4. DDoS – Distributed Denial of Service attacks occur after stacks of systems invade a target and overload it. For example a web or network server. This action renders the server useless and opens it up to attack.
  5. Employee Devices –  Subscription of employee devices to the business’s Wi-Fi could substantially weaken your security advantage.
  6. Malware – These are all threats such as trojans, worms or spyware. Today, global businesses are facing an unexpected surge in ransomware incidents.
  7. Natural Disaster/Physical Theft – Prepare for anything out of the blues such as natural disasters or physical theft.

Evaluate Existing Security Process

After accessing potential security threats, evaluate whether your business’ current infrastructure is solid enough to counter a breach. Assess the effectiveness of current measures and identify any potential weaknesses. Take into account the entire business, including staff and security procedures. You might consider an external audit for this step. However, it’s not mandatory. Nonetheless, internal biases might skew the results of an audit during this process.


Now re-evaluate the potential threat and score each against the other. Determine the chances of each threat taking place and give each threat a risk score.  During this process, research the following:

  1. The business history of cyber breaches – has the business faced an attack before?
  2. Trends in Cyber Crime – What methods are today’s cybercriminals using to attack businesses. What threats are more prevalent than others and which ones are less likely to take place.
  3. Industry Trends – Businesses in the financial sector are more likely to face a data breach than other industries.
  4. Regulations, compliance, and legislation – Consider who has access to your most sensitive data. Take into account whether your business is a private or public entity. Identifying the people who have access to your data helps assign the right threat score to certain areas.

Finally, list all the potential threats against their risk scores and advise accordingly.

Finalizing the Assessment

Finalize the audit by coming up with a set of security protocols for eliminating the risk. These include:

Creating employee training sessions to generate awareness of existing cyber threats.

  1. Email protection is necessary by implementing measures such as spam filters.
  2. Regular backups are necessary to keep the business running in case of a compromise.
  3. Updated software to ensure your infrastructure set is at par with industry standards.
  4. Password management that sets up unique and complex passwords.
  5. Network monitoring software to alert you in case of suspicious activity.

In conclusion, create a business culture within your company where each person understands every potential security threat.


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