Frequent network audits are critical to ensuring your business technology provides reliability, performance, and security. A “deep dive” into your IT systems, the network audit process is a close inspection of your physical network infrastructure, configuration and settings, IT management policies, and software, which helps you identify problems that may disrupt productivity.
While many organizations understand the importance of network audits, they still face uncertainty around whether to conduct those audits internally or enlist the help of an external IT services partner.
Conducting an IT audit internally has some benefits, for example cost. Companies that already have an IT staff can conduct their audits at no additional expense, allowing them to allocate that budget to other priorities. But there are many ways in which having a third party conduct your network audit is worthwhile.
The audit is not a task that you can just hand off to a team of inexperienced technicians. Accurately gauging the health and security of a network requires a unique blend of communication and business skills, certifications from a body like the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), and of course, technical expertise.
An external auditing partner will provide a comprehensive foundation for the entire audit process, ensuring deep insight at every stage:
In addition, an external network auditor has access to powerful auditing tools that can automate many of the tedious processes involved in an IT audit, detect vulnerabilities in your IT systems, and present the audit information in an actionable format quickly. These specialized tools are unavailable to most small and midsized businesses, who won’t use them often enough to realize a positive return on investment.
As an organization’s network architecture becomes more complex, the importance of using an established technology framework to guide how you govern your infrastructure, applications, and business processes increases.
The external audit team can employ these frameworks as needed to ensure your network audit conforms to the highest standards of reliability and security. Some of the technology frameworks that a reputable IT service provider will apply to your network include:
Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
The most widely used of all IT service management (ITSM) frameworks, ITIL is a comprehensive guide that helps companies effectively manage every step of the IT service lifecycle. Now a de facto standard, employing the ITIL framework during your IT audit has a wide variety of benefits:
The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework
The NIST Cybersecurity framework is a widely used model for ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your data assets. As both a model for “risk-based” cybersecurity and regulatory compliance preparedness, NIST has been widely employed by both governmental and private organizations for over a decade.
Organizations with regulatory compliance exposure benefit from having an external team of compliance and technology experts in either a fully outsourced capacity or as support staff for an in-house IT team.
Armed with deep experience managing the technical dimensions of compliance standards such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, FINRA, and others, the external auditor team will help provide insight at every stage of the audit process, from readiness assessment, through to network documentation, testing, and compliance maintenance.
Since the passage GDPR, even companies without compliance requirements need to be vigilant about managing data governance and privacy. The cost of non-compliance is far greater than making proactive investments to ensure that your organization is meeting its regulatory compliance requirements. The Complete Network team has deep experience in helping with this.
Cybersecurity is another great reason to engage a trusted IT services firm to help with your network audits. Established audit service providers will bring a bench of cybersecurity talent to your audit project, along with familiarity with current cybersecurity best practices. Those insights deepen the value of the network audit and provide insights that could save you from catastrophic downtime or data loss in the future.
What distinguishes a network audit from a network security audit? Here are some of the elements of a security audit that you might not include in a regular audit:
When selecting a partner to help with your network security audit, it’s important to find a team who has a demonstrated track record of serving companies within your industry and a strong reputation in the local business community, in order to ensure complete visibility over your environment.
We’ve established that in many cases, enlisting the help of an external IT auditor is a good policy, but how often should you conduct your audit? That question will have different answers, depending on the size of your company, the complexity of your network architecture, your security and compliance goals, among other factors.
At the minimum, Complete Network recommends that most small or midsized business conduct an audit at least 2 times a year. However, you will also want to run a full network audit after any major change to your network infrastructure, such as a server upgrade or network hardware replacement, to see if any new vulnerabilities have been introduced
Do you feel unprepared to conduct your next network audit with in-house resources? Perhaps you’re not auditing as often as you’d like, and want greater visibility into your network and applications? For decades, the Complete Network team has been helping businesses in Albany, New York, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Bluffton, South Carolina with their network and security audits.
Want to learn more about our process? Contact our friendly team any time at 1 888 877 1840 or [email protected]. We look forward to speaking with you!
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