Ten Ways Auditing Helps to Improve Security

by Satyendra Tiwari

It is an established fact that the majority of security breaches occur due to insider misuse or abuse. Despite this, many organizations still do not have an adequate means of tracking what their privileged users are doing in their critical IT systems. We strongly believe that regular auditing helps contribute towards a more secure IT environment. In this article we will list some of the benefits to security that auditing provides:

1.  Spotting changes occurring to critical IT systems

Knowing the who, what, when and where of every change that occurs in your critical IT systems is an important part of ensuring a secure environment. Due to the amount of time and man-power it takes to maintain a pro-active approach to change auditing, many organizations overlook it. The danger of this is that you risk not noticing a critical or malicious change until after the event, which can be devastating.

2. Identifying administrator controls and shared accounts

Administrator accounts may have high levels of privilege and access controls, for this reason you must ensure that they are regularly audited. Without auditing, such privileged accounts with access to sensitive data can be easily misused. Regular and in-depth auditing of these accounts will help to flag any suspicious activity in your most sensitive files and folders.

 3.    Simplifying access management

Regular auditor will be able to spot inactive user accounts or whether a user has moved positions in a company but maintained the same permissions. Having a large number of inactive user accounts or users with the wrongs levels of access can be very detrimental to security. Auditing will help you spot these anomalies so that you can take steps to correct them.

4.    Collecting and analysing activity logs

Knowing when users are accessing files and folders, and what they are doing once inside, is an important part of any security plan. Auditing user access will ensure you are aware of anything happening inside your files and folders that could potentially be harmful to your business. This is why it is important to regularly collect and analyze activity logs in your critical IT systems.

5.    Establishing a least privilege policy

One of the most important things all organizations must ensure is that the right people have the right levels of access to the right data. There may be situations where a user moves to another department within an organization that does not require the same levels of access. In cases like these, it is imperative to continually track and monitor permissions and permission changes. These audits will help considerably towards implementing appropriate access policies and multifactor authentication.

6.    Setting business continuity and disaster recovery plans

In the event of a disaster or emergency, the organization’s data could very well be at risk. It is important to have adequate measures in place should a breach occur or a database fail. This is where auditing can be useful. It enables you to test your disaster recovery capacity which makes it easier to develop a clear disaster recovery plan.

7.    Implementing sourcing Controls and Partner Agreements

Without proper security measures in place, there is always a risk that sensitive data may fall into wrong the hands. To avoid this, organisations should develop appropriate controls for when it is necessary to transfer data between enterprises and external parties. Regular auditing helps to implement and review all the security requirements with business partners and external service providers.

 8.    Deterring users

Making your employees aware that strict auditing is taking place across critical IT systems acts as a deterrent for many users. Whilst this may not be a direct feature of auditing, knowing they are being watched means that employees may take more care when handling sensitive data and it may stop some insiders from accessing data that they should not have permissions for.

It can be very difficult for organizations to justify a large spend on something like IT auditing because if it is working then you won’t particularly notice. This is partly the reason why so many organizations lack the appropriate means of continuously auditing and monitoring their critical IT systems. There are many third party solutions that provide a centralized console for auditing monitoring and alerting on changes made throughout your IT infrastructure. Auditing contributes to security in more ways than are listed in this article and, in our opinion, easily give great returns on investment.

Satyendra Tiwari is the marketing manager at Lepide Software.

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