Being responsible for your workplace technology can be scary. Not only do you have to keep your team productive, but you also need to keep your data safe. In today’s workplace, mobility is a must, the Internet of Things (IoT) cannot be ignored, and businesses need to remain agile. Also, information security should always be a top priority. While this concept seems daunting, there are a few steps your business can take towards improving security. In order to get started, a security assessment is generally the first move.
What is a Security Assessment?
A Security Assessment can come in many different flavours. In general, a Security Assessment is a technical review of your technology systems, physical security, and policies where a security expert looks for holes and weakness that could lead to a security incident. Security Assessments can differ depending on who is conducting it and your business goals for the assessment. However, an overarching security assessment will often contain the following elements:
- Vulnerability Assessment: A Vulnerability Assessment (VA) is a security review that utilizes assessment tools to scan your public facing systems for weaknesses or security gaps. A VA should include an assessment document that outlines issues by priority and includes a comprehensive improvement plan.
- Penetration Test: A Penetration Test (Pen Test) is often used with a Vulnerability Assessment. In a Pen Test, an expert will try to exploit vulnerabilities to show you possible causes for a breach.
- Security Posture Review: A Posture review is a non-invasive and low impact security review when a security expert reviews your policies and procedures to assess your current level of security. One key benefit of a posture review is that it provides you valuable time with a security expert to discuss your overall state of security and make a plan to get better in the future.
Are There Other Forms of Security Assessments?
In addition to the core components listed above, there are several other security based assessments and checks that can help your business:
- Password Enumeration Test: In this security assessment, a security expert will try and crack your employees’ passwords. This is a particularly valuable exercise as it will show you, on average, how weak your employee passwords are.
- Firewall Health Check: Your firewall is one of your first lines of defense. However, many firewalls are not properly configured, leaving wide open doors for cyber criminals to enter.
- Antivirus Health Check: Similar to your Firewall, workstation and server antivirus is a major step in your security process. Yet, many businesses can forget to install AV on new devices and services, which can become a critical issue sooner rather than later.
- Social Engineering Tests: Social Engineering Tests come in many different forms, but basically they look to see how likely your company is to being harmed by common social engineering scams such as phishing and false finance requests.
Why Does My Organization Need a Security Assessment?
Every organization should conduct regular security assessments to locate any new or dangerous gaps in your security posture. While dedicating a large (or any) budget towards security can be difficult for smaller organizations, SMBs can be especially vulnerable to cyber attacks. Below are four of the primary reasons organization engage in a security assessment:
- A Client Asked You to Get One
If your business deals with private data, then your clients probably want to know how secure their data is. The best way to appease this need is to engage in regular (quarterly or yearly) Vulnerability Assessments that you can share with clients.
- You are Required to Get One
Many businesses, such as government agencies and other critical entities, are required by law or through audits to conduct a security assessment. Make sure you have found an organization that you trust ahead of time. Remember, Security Assessments can vary depending on who is conducting them, so make sure you understand the scope of the assessment beforehand.
- You Are Scared
Trust your instincts. If security concerns are keeping you up at night, don’t be a defeatist. Find out where your weaknesses might be and put a plan in place to fix them. Some security weaknesses are simple fixes, such as strengthening your password policy or limiting administrative access to systems.
- Security is a Bit of an Unknown
Often, especially for smaller companies, security is ignored. However, at some point, there comes a time when your security strategy will need some love.
It is important to not wait until you experience an issue. Find out what your problems may be ahead of time and take care of them before your issues become public (and costly). Data Breaches can ruin your reputation and your finances, but remember there is way to prevent them.