Why it's best to bring in an outside partner to do a security audit
by Ashish Patel
Considerations and benefits to evaluate when deciding if an external security assessment is right for your organization.
Read time: 5 minutes
When it comes to protecting yourself, it pays to find the right partner.
In my last blog, I talked about why we need to rethink our entire idea of how we look at security—specifically, how a risk assessment is a necessary complement to a data security assessment, providing a quantitative analysis of the value of your information and allowing you to prioritize areas of greatest risk. At the end, I also briefly talked about why organizations should consider bringing in an outside partner when conducting a security audit.
Today, I want to go more in-depth about the benefits of an external security assessment, and why you should consider it a necessary part of your data security strategy. While nobody likes conducting audits, everyone understands the benefits regular assessments can provide your organization concerning information governance, assessing risk, managing compliance issues, identifying weaknesses and shoring up your defenses. However, many organizations prefer to keep this in-house, rather than looking for an external partner to assist in conducting the audit. Though understandable, it would be far more beneficial to bring in an outside partner. Here are three reasons why:
Reason #2: They have the expertise
While the staff you have are more than capable in their current roles, chances are good that they may not be nearly as familiar with the ins and outs of conducting a proper security audit—or may have never conducted one before at all. Because of this relative lack of expertise, many organizations choose to have workers conduct a review and assessment in areas where they already work, putting these personnel into an awkward position: who wants to be the one to tell their boss that there are major security problems, when it has been your responsibility to prevent these problems from happening? Often, this results in problems being downplayed as less important than they really are, or even swept under the rug entirely.
With an external assessment, you remove that element of the equation. The team you bring in does this sort of thing every single day, and have likely seen things in other organizations that may help solve problems within your own. Plus, they’ve seen the implementation of best practices inside other businesses—invaluable knowledge that they can bring to your organization. Considering this, it’s little wonder why TechTarget’s best practices guide for conducting audits recommends bringing in an outside partner:
“You may be tempted to rely on an audit by internal staff. Don’t be. Keeping up with patches, making sure OSes and applications are securely configured, and monitoring your defense systems is already more than a full-time job. And no matter how diligent you are, outsiders may well spot problems you’ve missed.”
Reason #3: The stakes are higher
It seems as though every few weeks, there’s a new data breach in the news. The Identity Theft Resource Center estimates that data breaches are up nearly 20 percent from 2015 alone, and that in just the first five months of the year, more than 11 million records have been exposed to hackers.[2,3]
But data breaches aren’t the only threat to your organization. Risk and compliance is also a huge potential vulnerability that could cost you millions. According to Thomson Reuters, there were more than 50,000 regulatory and compliance updates in 2015, and if your organization isn’t up to date on all of them, you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law. The potential results: significant fines, a big loss of brand equity and reputation, and even prison time in egregious cases.
Maintaining a strong security posture has never been more important, and you can’t afford to leave it to chance. The right partner can provide you the peace of mind that your data security strategy is sound, your potential risk is low, and that you’re in compliance with all applicable regulations—and you just can’t put a price on that.
1 Carole Fennelly, "IT Security auditing: Best practices for conducting audits" March, 2016, TechTarget. http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/IT-security-auditing-Best-practices-for-conducting-audits
2 Paul Ausick, "Data Breaches Up 18% to Date in 2016" May 4, 2016, 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/technology-3/2016/05/04/data-breaches-up-18-to-date-in-2016/
3 "Identity Theft Resource Center; Data Breach Category Summary" December 13, 2016, idtheftcenter.org. http://www.idtheftcenter.org/images/breach/ITRCBreachStatsReportSummary2016.pdf
4 "Top Five Compliance Trends Around the Globe in 2016" 2016, Thomson Reuters. https://risk.thomsonreuters.com/en/resources/infographic/top-5-compliance-trends-around-globe-2016.html
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