Security audit importance cannot be understated. Despite the fact that a single security breach can cost a company tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, many small businesses don’t have a cybersecurity plan in place. This troubling reality is made worse by the fact that small businesses tend to be more prone to cybersecurity attacks. Research shows that hackers often target small businesses because they typically have fewer cybersecurity resources compared to larger businesses.

Regular security audits should be a part of any company’s cybersecurity plan. While they can be arduous, these audits are a proactive step that can help companies avoid getting hacked.

What Is a Security Audit?

A security audit involves the systematic assessment of an organization’s cybersecurity measures. It includes the evaluation of networks, information systems and physical infrastructure. Security audits can be performed by an internal team or an external team of auditors from a third-party service provider. Security audits might also be performed by government agencies and accredited bodies that offer certifications, with the goal of finding an organization in compliance or worthy of certification.

While many people aren’t familiar with security audits, they may be familiar with the idea of a vulnerability assessment, which looks for weak spots in a cybersecurity structure. Or they might be familiar with the idea of a penetration test, which assesses potential vulnerabilities in an IT security system. However, security audits encompass a much larger scope than these assessments. In fact, the importance of a security audit is based on the fact that it often includes both a vulnerability assessment and penetration tests.

Security audits cover and test the strength of many different cybersecurity measures, including firewalls, antivirus protections, password policies, access controls and authentication measures. Security audits are important because they go through the overall governance of an organization’s security. Regularly performing them can have a substantial positive effect on the overall success of a company.

While the steps taken in an audit will vary from organization to organization, auditors will usually examine:

  • Physical devices and the environments in which they are used
  • All applications and software
  • Network access and firewall configuration
  • Processes related to IT
  • Overall security strategy, including policies and past audits

Security auditors will produce a report that pinpoints any vulnerabilities and recommends steps to enhance the organization’s security posture. These actions might include updating software, changing network infrastructure, enhancing access controls and making changes to processes.

Why All Businesses Should Have Their Security Audited

A security audit can offer a guide for improving your company’s primary data security measures and pinpoint where it’s meeting established criteria. The importance of security audits is rooted in their ability to inform risk assessment plans and mitigation tactics for companies that handle sensitive data, which is just about every company these days.

Effective security audits ought to give your group an overview of your company’s current security posture and offer enough depth to give your security technicians targets for remedial actions. The importance of security audits for your business is significant if your company requires them for compliance reasons. Many industries have strict regulations for privacy and cyber security. Audits for ISO 27001 or SOC 2 certification are necessary for some companies to legally operate.

These audits can also be shown to your customers and partners as a way to indicate that your systems are adequately protected. Showing clients and potential customers that your systems are adequately protected can increase revenue and close more deals.

The importance of security audits can also be seen in lower costs: Conducting regular audits is much cheaper than the devastating cost of a major data breach. These costs can include legal fees and brand damage. In addition to preventing costly preaches from happening, audits can also help companies mitigate the impact of an attack.

How the Audit Process Works

A security audit is focused on determining if a company’s systems are following a predetermined set of internal or external requirements. In-house criteria can include IT policies, processes and security measures. Outside criteria can include government regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or business standards established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). An organization looking to carry out its own in-house audit should still use some external criteria because it yields more useful results.

The chosen criteria are used to assess an organization’s security IT practices and measures. The main objective of an audit is to pinpoint areas for remediation and development. Auditors pay special attention to security controls for effectiveness and compliance. They identify vulnerabilities and analyze any breaches. After auditors have conducted their analysis, they recommend areas to address.

Security audits fall under several categories based on when they’re carried out and who they’re performed by. These categories include:

  • Routine in-house audits. These regularly conducted audits are meant to check for any new vulnerabilities and ensure that an organization has its security measures and protocols up to date.
  • Event-driven audits. Sometimes, an audit is conducted ahead of a new system being rolled out or in response to an event, like a recent cyberattack. Event-driven audits tend to focus on specific areas of interest.
  • Compliance and certification audits. A government agency or third-party organization might conduct a security audit to determine if an organization is in compliance or if it meets the standards necessary for the specific certification. These audits tend to be fairly comprehensive and challenging because an outside party is looking to hold an organization to a specific set of standards.

The best way to understand the importance of security audits is to understand them step by step. Organizations that know what to expect are better positioned to pass through an audit with flying colors.


Before an audit can be conducted, auditors need to establish the criteria that will be used, whether they are in-house standards, external standards or a combination of the two.

If an audit is an in-house affair, the organization or a third-party auditor will be responsible for establishing criteria, which will be based on the organization’s security-related processes and policies. If an audit is being conducted by an outside party, the auditing organization will establish criteria. 

For example, if a company is looking to establish compliance with a set of standards like ISO 27001, the certifying organization will assess the company’s processes and policies based on that set of standards. Auditors prepare for an audit by outlining the scope of their work and their objectives. They will also outline the tools and techniques used to assess an organization’s security.

It is critical for a company to keep all critical components of cybersecurity in mind when planning for an audit. Company personnel should review its processes and policies in preparation for an audit. It should also have a record of all staff members who can access any sensitive information, as well as those responsible for IT security. If any staff members do not have adequate security training, the organization must have those employees trained before the audit is conducted.


Auditors begin the process by collecting information about the organization’s IT security posture. They will review security policies, security measures in place, system logs, network diagrams and other documentation.

System log errors are the main focus of the investigation because they track which employees are accessing sensitive data. These compulsory logs also indicate if employees are following the correct security procedures. If an audit is being conducted in response to the security breach, system logs can be used for root cause analysis and formulating a comprehensive response.

While system logs are useful for a retrospective analysis, standard operating procedures related to security are necessary for handling security incidents. Auditors will review documentation and templates to determine if security personnel are prepared to respond adequately to an event. Having this documentation ready is a simple way for an organization to streamline its security audit.

This stage of a security audit is also meant to identify any vulnerabilities, such as an outdated security patch or former employees who can still access a company’s system. Auditors also investigate security control measures to determine if they are adequate and prepare for penetration tests.


Auditors can use any number of tools and processes to check an organization’s security infrastructure for any potential vulnerabilities. Typical testing measures might include software-based approaches like scanning a network, or they might involve the physical examination of a company’s facilities.

An audit team will also interview stakeholders and personnel with access to sensitive data to determine standard practices and response measures. These interviews are comprehensive and can reveal additional information about the physical locations of IT infrastructure, security controls and more. Interviews are especially critical when an audit is triggered by an attack or data breach. Auditors also might observe security personnel executing control measures to see if the correct procedures are followed.

Security audits are increasingly using the latest technology to check for vulnerabilities in a system. It’s becoming more common for auditors to use automation and artificial intelligence to analyze and test a security system.


After a security infrastructure has been investigated and tested, the audit team will generate a comprehensive report on their findings.

The typical security audit report will include observations and a critical analysis of an organization’s security posture. Auditors will describe any vulnerabilities they identified and undiscovered data breaches if they exist. The report may recommend steps for improvement, but the findings of an audit should be instructive on how to address any shortcomings. Typically, auditors will rank any shortcomings in order of priority. However, the organization is responsible for prioritizing remedial activities, which are typically done based on current objectives and strategies.

Most organizations can address vulnerabilities related to processes by training staff and reinforcing proper procedures. Technical vulnerabilities can be addressed by installing or upgrading security controls, such as firewalls, antivirus software and encryption tools.

That being said, organizations shouldn’t wait for an external audit to reveal any vulnerabilities or lapses in the process. Regular audits, when done correctly, can reveal any gaps in security or outdated technical measures. Regular audits can also ensure that proper documentation is being maintained and employees are following correct procedures. 

The necessary frequency of in-house audits will vary from organization to organization. It will be affected by factors like the size of an organization’s IT system, system complexity, the sensitivity of any data being handled, the likelihood of a cyberattack, risk tolerance, industry regulations and certification requirements.

Security audit importance should always be top of mind for IT personnel, and regular audits must be part of an overall security program. Although audits can be a grind to get through, they help to keep an organization functioning and responsibly handling data.

Let Taylored Help You Audit Your Business’ Security

The experienced professionals at Taylored Systems understand the importance of security audits, and that’s why we offer them as part of our managed IT and IT consulting services.

In addition to making your organization more secure, our managed IT services also help to reduce downtime and enhance customer service. We help companies implement a well-designed, secure IT system with a combination of IT solutions such as cloud storage, network assessment, helpdesk support and more. If your company is unfortunate enough to suffer a security breach, we can provide comprehensive disaster recovery services.

Our consulting services can also help you look ahead to a secure future. Too many organizations make short-sighted decisions when it comes to their IT assets, and our experts can help your company avoid the security pitfalls that come from a lack of long-term planning.

If you would like to learn more about how our services can make your organization more secure and efficient, contact us today.