A Guide to performing a Network and System Audit

Performing network audits can be an extremely valuable and time-saving practice, especially if you run your own business or are part of an organization with multiple networked devices.

Network audits can be used to ensure that all of your devices are running the correct software versions, that they have the most up-to-date security patches, and that they are adhering to your organization’s security policies.

The following guide will walk you through a network audit checklist.

Outline the Scope

Before you can begin an audit, it’s essential to define what you’re auditing. Start by defining your scope- that is, what are you checking? This could include your internal systems, such as email and web servers.

Next, define your boundary- where does your network end? For example, if you have remote employees or partners, they will require their audits. Alternatively, some companies opt for outside penetration testing services that limit their scope.

Run Tests

After auditing your network, running tests is an integral part of giving yourself peace of mind. Although regular audits will reveal some gaps in your defenses, only running tests after your audit can alert you when those holes are being exploited.

There are many types of security tools and testing processes that can help detect vulnerabilities; these include network scanners, port scanners, vulnerability scanners, and penetration testing. Try out some different methods before deciding which one works best for you. Indecium offers a multitude of solutions that can assist you in the selection and resolution. The assessment and review of these products are something we are well versed in helping you select, implement and support.

Analyze Findings

The key part of any audit is really performing it, of course. However, once you’ve gotten through all of those steps, it’s time to review your findings.

Any good auditor will want to perform an after-action review in which they look back at their methodology and procedures to figure out what went well and what didn’t and conduct lessons learned exercises to better prepare for future audits. 

After doing your initial analysis, double-check your work and make sure you’ve found all of your security concerns. Some issues will be minor; others will be more significant. Once you’ve confirmed that you’ve located all of your security problems, it’s time to work out solutions.

Report Results

After your audit is complete, it’s essential to report your findings. This helps ensure that they’re identified, addressed, and kept from recurring. In addition, many organizations have policies in place for reporting auditing findings, so you can follow them if you don’t have any of your own. Creation of regular attestation reports and validations will help you to stay on top of your findings and ensure that your remediation efforts were successful.

Reporting also helps build up documentation of all security audits completed by a business or organization over time. This can help identify trends and fix issues before they cause significant problems for an organization or company. Lastly, reporting will be important for identifying your length of operations with your security practices. In a SOC2 or ISO27001 audit, they will look to see how long you have been conducting audits, how detailed your documentation is and what policies and procedures you have in place. The reporting you do will help support your efforts and ensure you can show auditors that your organization is serious and regularly evaluates the security readiness and posture.

Remediate

After your identification and reporting, you must put together a proper remediation plan. This plan must incorporate the solutions to plug the holes, update your systems, train your employees or conduct the cleanup of any items found to be out of compliance.

After a remediation is completed, follow-up testing is necessary to ensure you were successful. Annual audits, attestations, reviews and further activity in real time monitoring of your systems will ensure that you stay within compliance as an organization.

The Bottom Line

A system and network audit is just a systematic search for problems. Whether security holes, performance bottlenecks, or infrastructural issues are found, you must address them to ensure you have a fully functional network and a security posture that will adapt and support your business. The process of performing an audit will vary based on your goals and your resources. As seen above, some basic steps should be considered whenever you’re thinking about getting started and finding a solid auditing partner will be a critical part of this process. Using solutions to automate as much of this auditing as possible relieves the workload and potential for human error in your auditing process. If you want to know more, reach out to Indecium and we can assist you with identification, implementation and support of these business needs.