Is your Business Audit-Ready? Four Key Data Questions You Must Answer

Is your Business Audit-Ready? Four Key Data Questions You Must Answer

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Audit – a word that is certain to strike fear and trepidation into almost any IT professional.

Yet in an environment where hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear about one business or another being hacked, audits are essential. Losing control of valuable customer data can leave a business open to lawsuits and fines, and the damage to done to your reputation can be even more costly.

Depending on your business, your audit might be necessary to comply with certain regulations (for example HIPAA, SOX, or PCI), a requirement given to you by your clients, or just an internal best practice. Regardless of the reasons, audits are essential to ensure that your data is stored securely and done according to best practices and that both your organization and your customers are as protected as possible.

In recent years, the proliferation of user devices and cloud applications means that some businesses struggle to keep track of their data, while the huge surge in the sheer amount of data held has increased the profitability of cybercrime. Not only do businesses need to work harder to keep track of their data, but customers and regulatory bodies are becoming more discerning when it comes to IT security.

We have compiled four key questions to ask your IT team, the answers to which are not only essential for an upcoming audit, but also for reassuring clients whose data you hold:

What Sensitive Data Do You Hold and Where?

Knowledge of what data you hold and where it is kept is one of the first and most important steps to securing your data. Without this knowledge, it is almost impossible to put effective steps in place to ensure your data is secure.

Left unsecured, data can be easily moved from your server onto mobile devices, removable drives, and into email and cloud accounts. The same piece of information might be simultaneously stored in several of these locations. By understanding where your information is being stored, you can then put in place effective safeguards to ensure your data stays out of the wrong hands.

Are You Tracking and Controlling Access To This Information?

Both customers and regulators will want to know who is accessing the sensitive data you hold. A key security concern for many businesses is that information is accessible to far too many individuals – many of whom do not require access in their daily job.

Company-wide access significantly increases the risk of data being stolen should an account become compromised, because it doesn’t matter which account has been broken into – any will do.

A system that offers privilege management should be used to ensure that the data each employ has access to is specified, and then enforced and tracked. Dynamic privilege management can be used to vary access according to a set of policies that define the risk of access. For example, without approval access from abroad may be severely restricted, or access could be more restricted from mobile devices that could be easily stolen. These types of policies can significantly improve security.

It is almost important to understand how partner organizations and contractors are using your information. It is important this access is regulated and shut off when not needed, since if their security becomes compromised it could in turn give a hacker access to your data.

How is the Sensitive Information Being Used?

Businesses don’t store information just for the fun of it – that sensitive information is going to be accessed, manipulated, and transferred by multiple users to bring value to the business.

Once employees start using information, tracking it gets harder. For example, if a user takes some customer data and uses it to create a PowerPoint presentation that file also needs to be stored securely and tracked.

Another common problem is the wide range of programs your employees use to access, share and edit the data. Malicious programs masquerading as legitimate tools pose a significant threat, especially for users with mobile devices. Apps frequently ask for access to data on the mobile device when being installed, even if they don’t need it – your data could be stolen or leaked without your server security ever being compromised.

How Are You Tracking and Blocking Abnormal Behaviour?

Having identity controls, such as strong usernames and passwords, is a strong deterrent to cybercriminals. However, it is not unlikely that at some point a mobile device will be lost or stolen, and then the accounts held on it compromised.

Often this can happen without you knowing, especially if workers utilize their personal devices for work – they simply won’t consider the fact that a theft could compromise enterprise security.

To secure against this, it is important your system tracks and blocks abnormal behaviour, so that even if your security is compromised there’s a good chance it will be detected and data theft will be avoided.

Get Audit-Ready Today

Without the right tools, staying on top of your data security and preparing for an audit can be a nightmare. Thankfully, tools like OnionID can save you time and money by not only setting you up to pass an audit but also providing the real-time tools that will help ensure your data is kept safe.

OnionID can give you complete visibility into who is accessing your data and how they are doing it. Guaranteed regulatory compliance makes it easy to comply with SOX, HIPAA, PCI and more, and real-time visibility into your employee’s behaviour makes it easy to detect unusual or risky behaviour before it becomes a problem.

Sign up to the OnionID newsletter today to find out more about how OnionID can help protect your IT infrastructure. You might also want to try the FREE OnionID trial.


Photo credit: Got Credit

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