An organization is vulnerable to both external and internal attacks and when such attacks occur on the network system of a company, it can cause much damage and loss of vital data such as financial data, company accounts, employee information, etc. These attacks come in the form of hackers, malware, keyloggers, etc. To mitigate such risks and improve the network security, various steps are undertaken.
One of these steps includes performing a network security audit. It involves surveying and analyzing the existing network of an organization for potential problems, loopholes, and weaknesses and rectifying them. The audit is conducted by an external team of IT professionals or by the firm’s own internal team of network professionals. Here’s how a network security audit is carried out.
1. The Physical Scope is Defined
Before the audit, network professionals identify and get a sense of the direction to head in; hence, this step is the most crucial. Audit teams can either carry out an audit by determining the physical location of the problem such as a particular branch or department of the company or by collecting similar hardware like the main server and computer terminals in the human resource department of the organisation.
2. Wide or Narrow Approach
A network consists of different peripherals, hardware, and software all interconnected with one another. Therefore, it’s important to map out the network and deduce the communication links between the software and hardware components. This is crucial in understanding the network’s various functions.
Audit teams then decide on either taking the narrow approach or the wide approach. In the narrow approach, the security risks are determined quickly by doing a fast sweep. Although it’s faster, many security threats might be missed out or overlooked. In the wide approach, a more thorough assessment takes place. It is time-consuming, but will reveal all the network security threats including the hidden ones.
3. Previous Data is Taken into Account
During the audit, insight is obtained into any previous audits that might have been carried out, even if they were of a similar nature. This is done to acquire important information relating to the company’s process of doing business, any network security incidents or lapses, and any changes in the IT infrastructure of the firm.
4. The Layout is Designed
After sufficient information is obtained, the audit’s layout is planned and designed. In the layout, the scope and participants of the audit are included along with the software and hardware and a list of the goals to be fulfilled.
5. The Risk Assessment is Conducted
After the audit team designs the layout and a plan of action has been laid out, the process of risk assessment is commenced. Every piece of software and hardware is scrutinized independently to trace a potential problem or issue back to its source. The assessment has to reveal the current as well as potential risks, the depth of the problem, and the different solutions that can be implemented to mitigate or eliminate the risks.