An information security audit is an audit on the level of information security in an organization. These audits are intended to improve the level of information security, avoid improper information security designs, and optimize the efficiency of the security safeguards and security processes. Auditing information security covers topics from auditing the physical security of data centers to auditing the logical security of databases and highlights key components to look for and different methods for auditing these areas. We take a 360-degree view of your organization’s processes and technology to give you a complete – and therefore accurate – picture of your risk status.
Our expert team evaluates the maturity of current information security capabilities, identifies vulnerable areas, and provides customized, prioritized recommendations for remediation.
We adhere to proven methodologies and industry Best Practices defined by ISACA, as well as the compliance standards of GLBA, SOX, HIPAA, PCI, NERC, and others
Step 1: Preliminary audit assessment
The auditor is responsible for assessing the current technological maturity level of a company during the first stage of the audit. This stage is used to assess the current status of the company and helps identify the required time, cost, and scope of an audit. First, you need to identify the minimum security requirements:
Security policy and standards
Organizational and Personal security
Communication, Operation, and Asset management
Physical and environmental security
Access control and Compliance
IT systems development and maintenance
IT security incident management
Disaster recovery and business continuity management
Step 2: Planning & preparation
The auditor should plan a company’s audit based on the information found in the previous step. Planning an audit helps the auditor obtain sufficient and appropriate evidence for each company’s specific circumstances. It helps predict audit costs at a reasonable level, assign the proper manpower and timeline and avoid misunderstandings with clients.
To adequately determine whether the client’s goal is being achieved, the auditor should perform the following before conducting the review:
Meet with IT management to determine possible areas of concern
Review the current IT organization chart
Review job descriptions of data center employees
Review the company’s IT policies and procedures
Evaluate the company’s IT budget and systems planning documentation
Review the data center’s disaster recovery plan
Step 3: Establishing audit objectives
The next step in conducting a review of a corporate data center takes place when the auditor outlines the data center audit objectives. Auditors consider multiple factors that relate to data center procedures and activities that potentially identify audit risks in the operating environment and assess the controls in place that mitigate those risks. Following is a list of objectives the auditor should review:
Personnel procedures and responsibilities, including systems and cross-functional training
Change management processes are in place and followed by IT and management personnel
Appropriate backup procedures are in place to minimize downtime and prevent the loss of important data
The data center has adequate physical security controls to prevent unauthorized access to the data center
Adequate environmental controls are in place to ensure equipment is protected from fire and flooding
Step 4: Performing the review
The next step is collecting evidence to satisfy data center audit objectives. This involves traveling to the data center location and observing processes within the data center. The following review procedures should be conducted to satisfy the pre-determined audit objectives:
Data center personnel – All data center personnel should be authorized to access the data center (key cards, login IDs, secure passwords, etc.). Datacenter employees are adequately educated about data center equipment and properly perform their jobs. Vendor service personnel are supervised when doing work on data center equipment. The auditor should observe and interview data center employees to satisfy their objectives.
Equipment – The auditor should verify that all data center equipment is working properly and effectively. Equipment utilization reports, equipment inspection for damage and functionality, system downtime records, and equipment performance measurements all help the auditor determine the state of data center equipment. Additionally, the auditor should interview employees to determine if preventative maintenance policies are in place and performed.
Policies and Procedures – All data center policies and procedures should be documented and located at the data center. Important documented procedures include data center personnel job responsibilities, backup policies, security policies, employee termination policies, system operating procedures, and an overview of operating systems.
Physical security / environmental controls – The auditor should assess the security of the client’s data center. Physical security includes bodyguards, locked cages, man traps, single entrances, bolted-down equipment, and computer monitoring systems. Additionally, environmental controls should be in place to ensure the security of data center equipment. These include Air conditioning units, raised floors, humidifiers, and an uninterruptible power supply.
Backup procedures – The auditor should verify that the client has backup procedures in place in the case of system failure. Clients may maintain a backup data center at a separate location that allows them to instantaneously continue operations in the instance of system failure
Step 5: Preparing the Audit Report
After the audit examination is completed, the audit findings and suggestions for corrective actions can be communicated to responsible stakeholders in a formal meeting. This ensures a better understanding and support of the audit recommendations. It also gives the audited organization an opportunity to express its views on the issues raised.
Writing a report after such a meeting and describing where agreements have been reached on all audit issues can greatly enhance audit effectiveness. Exit conferences also help finalize recommendations that are practical and feasible.
Step 6: Issuing the review report
The data center review report should summarize the auditor’s findings and be similar in format to a standard review report. The review report should be dated as of the completion of the auditor’s inquiry and procedures. It should state what the review entailed and explain that a review provides only “limited assurance” to third parties.
Typically, a data center review report consolidates the entirety of the audit. It also offers recommendations surrounding the proper implementation of physical safeguards and advises the client on the appropriate roles and responsibilities of its personnel. Its contents may include:
The auditors’ procedures and findings
The auditors’ recommendations
Objective, Scope, and methodologies
The report may optionally include rankings of the security vulnerabilities identified throughout the performance of the audit and the urgency of the tasks necessary to address them. Rankings like “high”, “low”, and “medium” can be used to describe the imperativeness of the tasks.