How to Conduct An IT Security Check

it security check

Consumers across America lost around $56 billion to identity fraud last year. While there are many reasons that theft happens, businesses being too lax with both their own information and customers is a key one. If your small to medium business stores data on a digital system, it’s important to secure your network and avoid disaster.

But what exactly is an IT security check? How can it help prevent fraud? How are these checks carried out?

Read on to answer these questions and to protect yourself, your employees, and the consumers that trust you.

What Is an IT Security Check?

Security checks are tests that look into how protected your network is. Its purpose is to find vulnerabilities, risks, and threats on your network so that you can better prevent a breach. By finding vulnerabilities, you will know exactly how to better safeguard your system and react if disaster does strike.

There are multiple types of security testing that businesses should engage in. The most common are vulnerability and security scanning, which use AI systems to scan networks for known signatures of vulnerability. The goal is to let information technology teams learn the best ways that they can reduce the biggest risks.

Risk assessment is another security check facet that analyzes the vulnerabilities that your scans found. The vulnerabilities will be classified from low-risk to high-risk. Professionals can then prioritize which threats should be dealt with first.

Penetration testing and ethical hacking are also important. An authorized user safely simulates a cyberattack to see whether or not the system is actually vulnerable. They can then see why the attack worked and how the malware was allowed into the system.

Basically, a ‘security test’ is anything that detects threats before they can arise. Even though there are many ways to test your network’s safety, they all share the common goal of giving IT teams information that allows for security enhancement.

Why Is This Important for Data Security?

Analyzing your current security and giving IT experts the knowledge that they need to move forward means that you can choose the next steps. You may not know exactly what to do after a check, but managed IT teams have the experience necessary to determine what must be done.

Assuming that you choose one of the better outsourced tech support companies, you can automatically have new security applications, authentication features, and firewalls installed after a test. Professionals have seen vulnerabilities before and therefore know how to best cope with each individual situation.

Opportunities for Preventative Measures

The first reason that performing data security checks is important is that it allows organizations to be proactive. Reactive security is an important failsafe, but disaster has already struck at the point that you’re using it. This means that your IT team will be struggling and scrambling to stop a disaster that’s already reared its head.

When this happens, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to stop all damages from occurring. Some data will be unsalvageable at the point where malware or unauthorized users are already in your system. You will already have lost some money and potentially sensitive information by the time that reactive measures begin.

When you know the ways that your system is vulnerable, you can appropriately determine what software you need to prevent breaches in the first place. You know exactly where the holes in your network are and can appropriately fill them with software that acts as a barrier.

This means that unauthorized users will have a far more difficult time penetrating your network in the first place. You won’t need to lose even a small amount of data before driving cyber criminals out. They won’t be able to reach or steal anything because they’ll be kept out by an ironclad security system.

Simulated Disaster Recovery

However, it’s important that you also work to come up with a good disaster recovery plan in the event of a breach. Regardless of how good your authentication and firewall systems are, there always is the possibility of penetration. That’s why you need to know exactly what to do in the event of an emergency.

Security checks include something called ethical hacking. An IT expert that you employ will access malware tools like those that modern hackers would have. They then install this fake “malware” onto your network and see where and how it got in.

This doesn’t just work to identify necessary preventative measures. It lets employees respond to a breach in real-time. This simulated disaster means that your workers can run a disaster recovery drill so they know their place in the event of a disaster.

You can then see where your team can improve when it comes to disaster recovery. They also will know exactly what to do in a digital crisis and can respond automatically and with less stress. Preparing for a disaster means increased readiness if one happens.

Legal Compliance

Many companies have regulatory requirements for their workplaces, employees, and supervisors. Even those that do not may be bound by legal requirements in their jurisdiction or area. This makes sense since keeping employees and consumers safe is a measure that protects constituents within a legal jurisdiction.

Some of these requirements (whether by the company or the law) may have to do with the frequency of data security checks. For example, you may face fines if you do not perform a comprehensive check annually. This makes checks directly needed for legal compliance in some situations.

In other cases, checks are needed for compliance in a more indirect way. There are likely rules dictating the vulnerabilities that cannot exist within your network. Similarly, guidelines may also say that you need to update certain security features to meet current standards.

In these situations, security checks help you to identify what you need to update. Without them, you may not find out what you’re required to do. This could lead to consequences including shutting down your business in extreme cases.

Conducting a Cyber Security Check: A Complete Guide

Conducting a cybersecurity check is a challenging multi-step process. It generally comes in five phases. The first, initiation, is what gives you the means to figure out what you’re testing.

This initial process is where you determine the scope of what network applications you’re testing. Do you want to check the entire thing for vulnerabilities or only specific areas? What do you want to document?

Here, you’ll answer these questions and endeavor to understand the functionalities of all of your applications. You can then look into what you want to be done and develop a scanning schedule. This lets you choose when checks begin and conclude so that you can make the most of your time.

Evaluating Your Network

After you know what you’re doing, it’s time to evaluate the infrastructure that you’re currently working with. For Southern California based companies, you should ask a company that specializes in IT support in Los Angeles to analyze the coding of applications and network functions. Identify loopholes and logical issues that your business faces when working on your system.

It’s also at this point that you will do smaller checks prior to vulnerability testing. Authorization checks for user access are key. Scheduling manual and automated application scanning tools is also an important process.

At this point, you can list the tools you’re using for security testing. It’s then time to get started.

Discover Vulnerabilities

This is the stage of the security check process that you likely think of when you consider testing. Here, you’ll perform penetration tests that find vulnerabilities in your system. This is where ethical hacking comes in.

After the process is complete and vulnerabilities are found, you will need to catalog all of them. Make sure that you verify your findings to remove instances of error. Analyzing the system as you move through it is critical so you can find and analyze the exact areas in which vulnerabilities arise.

Report Your Findings

After security tests conclude, the final step is to report findings. This means documenting all of the potential areas that need improvement and determining how vulnerable each application is. You also will need to look into how easy it is to exploit these vulnerabilities.

At this point, you know exactly what you’re working with and can get recommendations for how to fix your system. You then will need new technology installed onto your system to eliminate the vulnerabilities that were exposed during testing.

If you are legally mandated to have security audits completed, make sure that you also request a certificate stating that you completed the process.

Does this process sound overly challenging? That’s natural for most business owners or managers. Luckily, you don’t need to manually perform any of these tasks.

Outsourced IT experts take care of security scanning for you. Be Structured’s experts will carry out these checks using a couple of core tools: Nessus and CIS-CAT security scanning.

Nessus Security Scanning

One security scanning option available to you is Nessus. This software is distinct from other technologies because of its reliability and thorough testing. It doesn’t just let your Be Structured IT support professionals assess your blind spots.

Instead, it also lets us look at length around all areas of your server and system for open areas. We look into the locations that are low on security and automatically determine how we can patch up risks. We also look for places that there have been or are likely to be malicious attacks, consider what these attacks might look like, and come up with expert preventative measures.

Nessus is also unique because it can create a target profile for your network. This profile notes information from audits to see if you have a high-quality network configuration. It also notes whether you already have malware present on any application or whether sensitive data is already missing from your system.

You can also ask IT professionals to customize Nessus’ scanning software. There are more than 127,000 plugins that you can install when optimizing your security checks. This ensures that you get the best possible security check for your network’s individual needs and specifications.

CIS-CAT Scanning

CIS-CAT scanning is another technology that Be Structured uses to optimize network security. While Nessus security testing identifies vulnerabilities, CIS-CAT scanning helps you find the best security configurations for all tools. Nessus identifies problems; CIS-CAT identifies solutions.

The CIS-CAT program scans your network and lists out all of the applications and programs that you use. It then searches its pre-made catalog to find the right type of security settings for these programs. Once it identifies optimal benchmarks, it will compare them to the security settings that you actually have on the program.

One of the best things about CIS-CAT is that it gives a quantifiable measurement of how good your security system is. It scores your network security from 0-100 depending on how airtight your system is.

However, the single best thing about CIS-CAT is that it gives you actionable recommendations to improve your compliance. Rather than simply identifying vulnerabilities, it gives you a way to combat potential breaches. This makes CIS-CAT both unique and necessary for all businesses.

Increase Your Network Safety Today

While keeping your data safe at work can be a challenge, conducting data security scans can keep your mind at ease. Now that you know the basics of how you can conduct an IT security check for your business network, it’s time to get started.

We’re committed to providing you with the top network security features in all areas of your network. Contact Be Structured with any remaining questions that you have about security scanning and other professional web security features.

About Chad Lauterbach

CEO at Be Structured Technology Group, Inc. a Los Angeles based provider of Managed IT Services for small business. I desire to help small businesses better utilize technology by assisting in high level planning to make sure that new systems will benefit them both operationally and financially. I am careful to implement and support systems using industry best practices.