No health organization is immune to cyberattacks regardless of their size or perceived data value. Cybercriminals often exploit applications due to weak security measures, resulting in heavy penalties and reputational damages that erode customer trust.
In this blog, we will explain what goes into an IT audit for cybersecurity purposes. We will also provide a cyber security audit checklist to fortify your business against such threats.
What is Auditing in Cybersecurity?
It serves as a key tool in a comprehensive risk management strategy, with its scope extending to scrutinizing the policies, procedures, and controls in place to manage cybersecurity risks effectively.
An audit begins with an in-depth analysis of the organization’s security measures, scanning for weaknesses that may invite unauthorized access from external malicious entities or inadvertent breaches by internal staff.
This can encompass evaluating software and hardware performance, identifying vulnerabilities in the ecosystem, and gauging the effectiveness of current security policies and procedures.
How Long Does a Cybersecurity Audit Take?
- What’s the size of your organization?
- What’s the scope of the audit?
- Are there any regulatory compliance requirements?
- What’s the level of cybersecurity maturity?
- How cooperative is the organization?
- What is the risk management software you are using?
How Often Should You Conduct a Cybersecurity Audit?
- Organization’s size
- Risk profile
- Regulatory requirements
4 Types of IT Security Audits
Compliance audits can be especially important for organizations bound by industry-specific standards or regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
Risk Assessment Audit
These audits focus on identifying potential threats and gauging the likelihood of their manifestation. Risk assessments help prioritize the risks based on their severity and potential impact and can also assist in maintaining compliance in heavily regulated industries.
Cybersecurity Audit Checklist
1. Implement a Robust Cybersecurity Policy
- Define roles and responsibilities for all team members.
- Incorporate a proactive risk management strategy.
- Regularly review and update the policy.
- Outline clear incident response procedures.
- Emphasize swift, coordinated responses to threats.
- Recognize the policy as a living, evolving document.
2. Strong Password Policy
- Uppercase letters
- Lowercase letters
- Special characters
Regular audits of user access rights are another critical facet of a robust password policy. It ensures access privileges correspond to an employee’s current role and responsibilities. When an employee transitions to a different role or leaves the organization, access rights should be immediately adjusted or revoked as appropriate.
3. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
Implementing a multi-factor authentication (MFA) mechanism enhances security further. MFA employs a combination of two or more verification methods – this could be a password paired with a token or biometric data.
4. Limited Access Controls
5. End-User Training
A well-trained workforce is often the first line of defense against cyber threats. Frequent and up-to-date cybersecurity training is pivotal in cultivating a culture of security awareness and ensuring employees can recognize and react appropriately to cyber security risks.
- Minimize human errors: Educating employees about potential cybersecurity data breaches and threats reduces the risk of accidental errors leading to a security breach.
- Foster a security-aware culture: Regular workshops and discussions about phishing, password security, device security, and physical device security can help embed security consciousness within your organization’s culture.
- Ensure regulatory compliance: Training aids in adhering to the necessary regulations that stipulate awareness and training as part of their guidelines.
- Enhance incident response: A trained workforce will respond more efficiently and effectively during an incident, minimizing potential damage.
- Phishing and email safety: Train employees to handle suspicious emails cautiously. They should understand the risks of clicking on email links or opening dubious attachments. Instead, they should forward such emails to your IT team for further examination.
- Password security: Reinforce the significance of robust passwords and proper password management.
- Device security: This involves ensuring data security on portable devices such as laptops and implementing and enforcing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.
- Physical security: Employees should be trained to deal with strangers in the workplace to prevent potential social engineering attacks.
6. Keep Your OS Up to Date
7. Update Your Antivirus and Antimalware Software
8. Monitor Log Activity
- User activities
- Attempted accesses
- Significant network events
9. Maintain Device Security
10. Secure Communications
11. Protect Mobile Devices
12. Consider a Layered Security Scheme
13. Backup Your Data
- Set a schedule for consistent data backups for your digital assets.
- Protect your backup data with robust encryption.
- Keep three copies of data, with two on different storage types and one offsite.
- Use automation tools to guarantee timely backups.
- Use secure cloud services for reliable offsite backups.
- Use monitoring tools to flag any backup issues or failures.
- Formulate a comprehensive strategy for restoring data and maintaining business operations.
14. Plan Incident Response and Business Continuity
- Team Formation: Assemble a diverse, trained incident response team.
- Incident Criteria: Establish clear parameters to identify and report a security incident.
- Securing the Breach: Initiate protocols to limit the impact of detected incidents.
- Threat Neutralization: Define procedures to eliminate identified threats from your system.
- System Restoration: Design a recovery process to bring affected systems back online.
- Post-Incident Analysis: Conduct a detailed review after each incident to refine your plan and improve future responses.
15. Ensure Compliance and Regulations
MedStack is an all-in-one platform that ensures provable security and regulatory compliance for digital healthcare applications.
16. Ensure Secure Remote Access
17. Ensuring a Comprehensive Asset Inventory
Keep the inventory up-to-date as assets are added, modified, or decommissioned. Use automated tools like Exos by MedStack for discovering, tracking, and monitoring assets to detect unauthorized changes or access swiftly.
18. Secure Wireless Networks
19. Develop a Data Classification System
- Sort Your Data: Divide your data into categories like public, internal, confidential, and highly confidential.
- Set Rules: Make clear rules for each category. For example, anyone can see public info, while highly confidential data could be trade secrets.
- Choose Owners: Pick data owners for each category. This helps with proper classification and responsibility.
- Make Guidelines: Outline how to handle, store, and share data for each category. Include access rules, encryption needs, and retention policies.
- Set Up Security: Apply suitable security controls to protect each data category. For example, highly confidential data may need better encryption.
- Train Staff: Teach employees about the data classification system and their role in it.
- Review Regularly: Always check and update your data classification system to keep it relevant and effective.
20. Review Third-Party Vendor Security
Why is Auditing in Cybersecurity Important?
- Data security practices: This reflects how the organization safeguards its data, including encryption, access controls, and data handling protocols.
- Software and hardware performance: An audit can assess the robustness and efficiency of an organization’s technical resources and their capacity to safeguard information and resist attacks.
- Regulatory and legal compliance status: This relates to the organization’s adherence to legal and industry-specific data protection and privacy requirements.
- Vulnerabilities affecting the ecosystem: An audit identifies weak spots in the organization’s IT infrastructure, which malicious entities could exploit to gain unauthorized access or disrupt services.
- Effectiveness of existing security policies and procedures: This determines the suitability of the organization’s current security strategies and the degree to which they deter cyber threats.
- The presence of internal and external threats: Regular cyber security audits uncover potential risks that might arise from within the organization (such as disgruntled employees or lax security habits) and from outside (like hackers or malicious software).
Remember, cyber attackers are continuously looking for gaps in your defense. Partner with MedStack – the Best Healthcare Cybersecurity Company – to secure your healthcare applications with the latest and most advanced security measures.
Visit our website or contact us to book a demo and see how MedStack can safeguard your healthcare applications and sensitive data.