How To Determine If You Need A Computer Security Audit
A security audit of your computer infrastructure is an important tool that can keep your network ahead of any dangers. In an age of mobile-access, cloud-storage, and an ever-changing world of cyber threats, the security of your business network is of paramount importance. One innocent wrong click and you run the risk of losing vital data to hackers, scammers, or ransomware.
Are you certain your network is prepared to handle the invisible threats crawling through the internet in search of an easy target? Performing an audit once a year or hiring an IT provider to conduct it for you is the best way to ensure your network, and your client data, is secure. But how do you know if you need a security audit? If you can’t answer all the questions below, then it’s time to address your network’s security.
Do you have a hardware firewall, and is it configured to your business’s needs?
If your answer isn’t a confident ‘yes,’ then you definitely need a security audit. A business grade hardware firewall is your best defense against malicious programs trying to access your system. Don’t be tricked into thinking a software firewall provided by your internet provider will do the trick. Just as dangerous is installing a firewall but not configuring it to your specific needs.
Failing to appropriately adjust the settings of a firewall can leave your business with either too much protection, strangling the efficiency of your workforce, or too little protection leaving you open to threats. Firewalls need to be maintained and receive regular manufacturer updates to newly discovered threats. Often, businesses make the mistake of setting one up and leaving it alone. In today’s world, that is no longer adequate.
Do you have reliable anti-virus and anti-malware software protecting your entire network?
Simply installing anti-virus/anti-malware software on your computer isn’t enough. Your entire network, including your server, needs to be protected by anti-virus/anti-malware software. It’s important to choose a software that not only protects you in the moment but continually updates as future threats appear.
This Scanguard review breaks down how this antivirus program works and you can read other reviews for the best antivirus to protect your computer. It’s also crucial to be aware of how quickly it responds to zero-day threats or viral malware. If you don’t have an IT department of your own, a managed IT service is a better option than a break-and-fix IT service, as they can monitor and update your software regularly.
Do you have a password policy in place for your employees, and is it up to date?
The importance of a strong password cannot be understated. Passwords provide employees access to your business’ secure data. If that data isn’t secure, you could be opening your entire network up to cyber threats. For years cybersecurity experts have insisted that longer passwords with letters, numbers, and symbols changed routinely is the best practice to keep your network secure. But do you know that recent password guidelines have debunked this common belief? A routine security audit should include an assessment of your password policies and all new guidelines to keep your network secure.
Do you have a secure back-up of all your data that you can quickly retrieve?
Complete data backup should be a part of every business’s IT systems. Between natural disasters and ransomware, the threat of total loss is closer than many realize. It’s bad enough to lose your office to a disaster or suddenly find your network held hostage, but not having a backup could mean loss of critical client data as well as thousands of dollars in lost revenue or ransom money that doesn’t even guarantee full data recovery.
A routine security audit should include an analysis of your backup methods, whether cloud or on-site, as well as an evaluation of how effectively you can recover after a loss of data. Data back-up is more than simply having access to the files—the quick and efficient recovery of an entire server can save you considerable downtime. Carefully select which options are right for you based on potential downtime and make sure your data is getting backed up to more than one destination.
When was the last time you updated your hardware?
Your network is more than software. It’s also the hardware that runs your business. The computers, routers, modems, servers, and even surge protectors create a hardware infrastructure that needs to be maintained and updated along with the software. You can buy the best anti-virus software and cloud back-ups out there, but your business can still be at risk if your hardware is out-of-date. However, manufacturing companies tend to not need the newest hardware on their systems as they tend to do the same jobs daily. Companies like cksglobal.net creating manufacturing companies computers that will last for years and can survive the beating they take from factory life, therefore upgrades are not usually needed.
Manufacturers stop offering security updates to hardware after a certain period of time, and newer software can drain the processing power of older computers. It’s important to include your hardware and how it’s structured in your office in every security audit so you can replace any outdated hardware before it becomes a problem.
If you’re unsure about the answer to any of these questions, it’s time to perform a network security audit. If you do know the answers but it’s been more than a year since your last audit, then it’s time to reassess. Routine audits help keep your business and your infrastructure up-to-date and protected in the ever-changing cyber world.
Amy O. Anderson is President of Anderson Technologies, a St. Louis IT company that optimizes technology to meet the demands of small and mid-sized businesses. For over 20 years, Anderson Technologies has provided the IT solutions that firms need to be competitive in today’s marketplace.