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Lesson 8 Auditing strategy.
Objective How do I plan an auditing strategy?

Strategy to audit an existing Security Plan

Auditing an Existing Security Plan: A Comprehensive Strategy

Auditing an existing security plan is crucial for organizations to ensure that their security measures are effective, up-to-date, and compliant with relevant regulations. This process involves a systematic examination of the security policies, procedures, infrastructure, and controls in place to identify vulnerabilities, gaps, and potential improvements. This article outlines a comprehensive strategy to audit an existing security plan with a focus on risk assessment, documentation review, technical evaluation, and continuous improvement.

2. Risk Assessment

Begin by conducting a thorough risk assessment to identify the organization's most critical assets and the potential threats they face. This process should involve:
  1. Asset identification: Catalog all critical assets, including hardware, software, data, and personnel.
  2. Threat modeling: Identify potential threat actors, attack vectors, and vulnerabilities that could compromise these assets.
  3. Risk analysis: Estimate the likelihood and impact of potential security breaches, and prioritize risks based on their severity.

3. Documentation Review

Examine the organization's security documentation to ensure it is comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date. This step includes:
  1. Security policies and procedures: Review policies for access control, incident response, data protection, and other relevant areas to ensure they align with industry standards and best practices.
  2. Compliance documentation: Verify adherence to applicable regulatory requirements, such as GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS.
  3. Training materials: Assess the effectiveness of employee security awareness training and identify areas for improvement.

4. Technical Evaluation

Perform a technical evaluation of the organization's security infrastructure and controls, focusing on the following areas:
  1. Network security: Review firewall configurations, intrusion detection systems, and network segmentation to ensure proper protection against unauthorized access.
  2. Endpoint security: Assess the security of devices, such as desktops, laptops, and mobile phones, including antivirus and antimalware software, encryption, and patch management.
  3. Access controls: Evaluate the effectiveness of user authentication and authorization mechanisms, including multi-factor authentication and role-based access controls.
  4. Data security: Inspect the organization's data storage, backup, and encryption practices to safeguard sensitive information.
  5. Physical security: Assess the security of the physical premises, including access controls, surveillance systems, and environmental controls.

5. Penetration Testing

Conduct a penetration test to simulate real-world attacks on the organization's infrastructure and identify potential vulnerabilities. This process should involve both internal and external testing, and include techniques such as social engineering, application testing, and network exploitation.

6. Reporting and Remediation

Compile the findings from the audit into a comprehensive report, detailing identified vulnerabilities, gaps, and recommendations for improvement. Prioritize remediation efforts based on the severity of the risks identified, and develop a timeline for addressing each issue. Ensure that responsible parties are assigned to each task and that progress is tracked.

7. Continuous Improvement

Establish a culture of continuous improvement by regularly reviewing and updating the security plan, incorporating lessons learned from incidents, and staying informed about emerging threats and industry best practices. Schedule periodic security audits to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of the organization's security measures.

Auditing is an important aspect of an overall security plan. Most modern systems can record all their activity in log files. These logs enable you to determine the effectiveness of your security implementation. Through these activity logs, you can usually determine if an unallowable activity occurred and how it was able to occur.

Logging activity

Information about who has logged on, when, and for how long should be investigated for
  1. System access during non-business hours
  2. Long periods of log in time for users with mid- to high-level access rights
  3. Anytime log off would be expected, such as when a user is on vacation

Sorting log information

Sort logs in several ways to identify possible problems. Analyze your access logs by
  1. User: to identify extended log on times, failed logon attempts, and resource utilization
  2. Supervisor, consultants, and administrators: to identify unusual activity
  3. Network address: to identify users and their expected network address

Log files should be secured to allow only the most privileged accounts of the operating system to access or write to them.
You should also change the default location for log file storage. Log files are hacker targets because they contain the evidence of hacker activities.

In conclusion, auditing an existing security plan is a critical process that helps organizations ensure the effectiveness of their security measures and maintain compliance with relevant regulations. By following a comprehensive strategy that includes risk assessment, documentation review, technical evaluation, and continuous improvement, organizations can minimize their exposure to security threats and safeguard their most valuable assets.