As more businesses migrate their data and applications to the cloud, the need to be proactive about IT security threats becomes increasingly clear. Even if you aren’t using cloud-based or software-as-a-service infrastructure, staying vigilant and maintaining IT security compliance with various regulatory standards can be a complex task.
IT security assessment services from an external company is one of the best ways to ensure your bases are covered when it comes to network security. Even if you have the best in-house experts working for you, bringing on board an IT security consultant for periodic reviews can bring to light any organizational and infrastructural weaknesses your team has overlooked.
What Is an IT Security Assessment?
An IT security assessment is an in-depth process evaluating the strength of the hardware, software and policies your organization uses to protect itself from data breaches. This definition is broad for a reason — every organization is different, and, there is no one-size-fits all test that can provide a comprehensive overview of your security posture. Working with a knowledgeable consultant can help you determine the right combination of procedures and reviews necessary to give an accurate picture of your strengths and weaknesses. This can include:
- Vulnerability testing: A network vulnerability assessment is one of the most basic forms of IT risk analysis. Using automated software, a vulnerability scan looks for weaknesses in your network infrastructure based on a database of known threats. While easy to implement and cost-effective, vulnerability scanning services are only one part of overall risk assessment — more in-depth analysis is required to gain a true picture of your security posture.
- Penetration testing: Penetration testing takes vulnerability scanning a step further by actively attempting to exploit weaknesses in your network. Rather than being an automated process, it requires direct engagement by an IT security consultant. Penetration testing should be part of IT security analysis, as it provides a more comprehensive picture of how an attack can occur and what the consequences may be when it does.
- Compliance management: Compliance management refers to the auditing and consulting processes around compliance with FISMA, HIPAA, SEC and other regulatory standards. By making compliance a cornerstone of your IT security posture, you develop stronger systems from the ground up and simplify the auditing process — key benefits for any organization.
One advantage of working with an outside IT security consultant is that their expertise can help you prioritize different types of testing and scanning. From there, you can develop a cost-effective, streamlined plan for meeting the ongoing security requirements of your organization.
The Steps of IT Security Assessments
When you break down IT security testing services, there are three primary stages:
- Review: When an IT security assessment consultant reviews your business IT environment, they discover vulnerabilities by looking at the documentation of what has been done in the past, examining your IT environment network and system setups and gaining an overall view of how the environment is operating.
- Examination: The examination becomes a particular stage, where the team will conduct a technical analysis of specific pieces of IT hardware like firewalls, routers and the network to search for vulnerabilities.
- Testing: Testing is done to find additional vulnerabilities after the previous two steps of review and examination.
The Benefits of IT Security Assessments
The value of your client or customer information is irreplaceable, which is why most businesses want to stay current with IT security testing services. An IT security assessment for compliance done by well-practiced consultants has many benefits for your company, including:
- Telling you what exactly needs to be strengthened by understanding your software or hardware weaknesses
- Avoiding lost revenue spent on repairing your public image from a successful attack
- Preventing the destruction of valuable business information
- Preventing cybercriminals from stealing useful data and holding it ransom against your company
- Reducing the attacks and breaches made toward your company
- Minimizing the impact a cybercriminal can have on your company
- Helping you stay updated on the current intelligence hackers are continually developing
- Avoiding lawsuits involving lack of security on behalf of your customers, clients or patients
- Discovering the motives of your attackers
- Getting a complete understanding of your current security environment
- Providing you with peace of mind that your recent assessments have been proactive in bringing solutions
- Building trust with your customers, clients or patients
- Encouraging you to make informed choices on your budget and spending for your company’s IT security
- Preventing you from being fined for not complying with government regulations on IT
Questions to Ask Your Team About Your Current IT Security Strategy
If you’re determining whether you need security assessment and compliance experts to collaborate with your team, knowing what questions to ask yourself will help. Take a look at the questions below, which can help you and your IT determine if you could benefit from outside consultants:
- How many times have you been attacked?
- How many of the attacks were breached?
- What are your attackers after?
- What are upcoming transitions for your company that may cause vulnerabilities?
- What are the new ways to be proactive in your IT security?
- Would your IT team benefit from collaborating with ahead of the curve IT security specialists?
- What can you implement that will prevent these attacks?
Am I Really at Risk?
When we think about data breaches, we tend to focus on high-profile incidents like those against Sony Pictures, eBay and other major corporations. It’s easy to forget that small- and medium-sized businesses can be targets, too. In fact, for smaller organizations, the risks may be even greater. Research by the Ponemon Institute puts the average cost of a data breach at $3.79 million — a sum that can easily bankrupt all but the largest corporations.
Think of hiring an IT security consultant as an investment in peace of mind. As much as you trust your internal team to do their job, when it comes to something as important as security, you can always benefit from an outsider’s perspective.
Benefits of Hiring an IT Risk Analysis Expert
An external network security consultant does more than just mitigate catastrophic risks. In addition to performing network vulnerability testing and other technical services, an external IT consultant can:
- Free up in-house staff to work on longer-term projects or other more in-depth activities.
- Suggest recommendations for streamlining network infrastructure, resulting in more effective, economical and easier-to-use systems.
- Provide dedicated and specialized project management services that ensure goals are met and recommendations are followed through.
- Aid with regulatory compliance, reducing the capital and human costs associated with preparing for an audit.
- Serve as a liaison between technical staff and upper management, helping engage executive support in important security decisions.
Take the First Step Today
Whatever your specific requirements and priorities, Vigilant Compliance can help. Our experts will work with your existing resources — both human and technical — to provide a comprehensive vulnerability assessment report and action plan tailored to your organization.
To start the process or to learn more about how we can help with your IT risk management procedures, contact our office today.