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Cybersecurity Consulting

The DOT Security Risk Audit

January 05, 2023

5 minutes

Blue tinted image of a person’s hands on a laptop and external keyboard | cybersecurity risk audit

Any relationship with DOT Security begins with a cybersecurity risk audit.

It’s how we get to know the nooks and crannies of your environment, see your vulnerabilities, decide what goes into your customized tech stack, and protect your organization as thoroughly as possible.

But if you’ve never undergone a cybersecurity risk audit before, it can be nerve-wracking to allow hackers, even white-hat ones, to explore your company network without knowing exactly what it entails.

That’s why today we’re delving into every step of the DOT Security Risk Audit, to answer all of your questions about exactly what a cybersecurity risk audit is, why it helps your business, and what you’ll learn from it that you never knew before.

Why DOT Security Always Starts with a Cybersecurity Risk Audit

The need for cybersecurity has increased drastically over the past few years because the number of cyberattacks has also increased substantially.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated this problem—as businesses scrambled to let their employees work and access data from home, opportunities for cybercriminals increased enormously.

In fact, according to the security firm CrowdStrike, more attacks took place in the first half of 2020 than there were in the entire year of 2019. By 2025, the total cost of cyberattacks in the US will top $10.5 trillion annually. The pandemic accelerated the growth of cybercrime, and it hasn't slowed down since.

Because of this, many organizations have recognized the need to digitize their workplaces to varying degrees, often through initiatives like finding more ways to use their data as the professional world becomes more and more digital in nature.

However, while remote work is convenient, without the right protections, there are many ways for hackers to reach sensitive data as it’s handled, processed, and stored through unsecured digital channels.

That’s led to SMBs being targeted by cybercriminals who are smelling opportunity more than ever before.

Even if a business does survive a data breach, the costs are still high, monetarily and in terms of reputational damage, both of which curtail growth significantly.

The bottom line is that you need a level of cybersecurity protection that mitigates the dangers of modern threats to an acceptable degree in today’s cyber environment.

It’s impossible to receive and implement the necessary solutions without knowing what your business’ capabilities are, though.

The principal way to know where you are now and improve is with a cybersecurity risk audit.

Now that you know why cybersecurity risk assessment services are important, let’s explore exactly what they entail.

A blue and green infographic that lays out the steps of a cybersecurity risk audit

1. Creating a Plan

When it comes to cybersecurity and your company’s network, it doesn’t pay to be vague.

The planning stage is where the obligations and expectations for the cybersecurity risk audit, for both the MSSP (managed security service provider) and the client, are identified and laid out, ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

We also clearly define what the project is and how communication should be handled.

Key stakeholders and liaisons are selected to ensure that the project goes as smoothly as possible.

DOT Security's auditors will convey their requirements to your team, including scoping information for your network, the third-party systems within your network, and anything else they need.

The cybersecurity risk audit can’t move forward without that information.

Finally, our team will create a schedule and draw up a project plan so every aspect of what happens next is clearly documented for reporting purposes.

2. Executing the Plan

This is where the bulk of the cybersecurity risk audit happens.

Our team will begin exploring, testing, and scanning your network to fully understand your current cybersecurity status.

The execution stage has two parts to it: vulnerability scanning and penetration testing. If you decide to also perform a gap analysis, that will be conducted too.

Vulnerability Scanning

When a cybercriminal decides to target your business, the first thing they will do is search for the easiest weakness in your network to exploit.

So that’s the first thing DOT Security does during a cybersecurity risk audit, too.

Attackers never want to do more work than necessary, so they’ll take the path of least resistance into your system.

Anything we find during vulnerability scanning will be among their most likely access points.

Entry points that would allow a bad actor to move laterally through your system once they’re in are of particular interest at this stage of the process, as those will be the most important ones to cover later.

In short, vulnerability testing is where we map out your entire network and figure out exactly what avenues of attack a hacker would use to gain access to it.

Penetration Testing

This is the part of the cybersecurity risk audit where a hacker gets into your system on purpose.

A member of DOT Security’s white-hat team, using the tactics of a cybercriminal attempting to get into your network, will figure out how they could do it, further clarifying where your biggest weaknesses are and what needs addressing.

White hat hackers are security professionals who understand and can mimic the way attackers work but use that information to make recommendations as to how to help keep your business safe.

They conclude testing by reporting on all of their findings.

This testing is always performed ethically and is a vital part of the process.

Having white hat hackers work on your system is extremely valuable for risk assessment.

It shows how a malicious hacker would behave, and the methods they would use to access your data.

Gap Analysis

The gap analysis is a process for discovering if an organization’s cybersecurity and business practices meet their industry or location’s standards.

DOT Security’s Compliance Officers primarily focus on data handling and safeguarding, as well as how well legal policies are being enforced.

With this understanding, a business can see if they’re compliant with any relevant regulations, and what they would need to do to become so if they aren’t.

Some industries, like healthcare, education, and finance, are heavily regulated by local and national governments, requiring them to follow a series of laws focused on data security, like HIPAA.

However, even if your company isn’t in one of those industries, it still might be worth considering a gap analysis as part of your cybersecurity risk audit to ensure that you meet new or soon-to-come universal standards, like the CCPA in California, the SHIELD Act in New York, or the GDPR, which affects any company with users in the EU, regardless of where the company is based—same for CCPA and SHIELD.

By investing in data security and compliance early, and preparing your business for stricter regulations, you’re more likely to be ready as more such laws come to pass.

Plus, you’ll have a more secure service for your customers, which is an increasingly important aspect of data privacy on which businesses are competing today.

3. Analysis and Reporting

The final step of a cybersecurity risk audit is the simplest, but also the most actionable.

DOT Security will come back to all of the key stakeholders identified at the beginning and report on our findings.

We break down every aspect of our assessment, from your vulnerabilities and weaknesses to what your organization needs, both from a cybersecurity and a business perspective.

If you opted for a gap analysis, this is also where we present our findings on your compliance.

This all includes our findings, any specific observations we’ve made, if there are glaring holes that require immediate fixing, and our long-term recommendations.

Using this data, DOT Security will then work with you to create a security plan that addresses the issues we’ve found and is customized specifically for your business.

Bottom Line

Now you know what a cybersecurity risk audit from DOT Security involves, how our cybersecurity professionals behave when performing one, what you will receive from it, and how it can help you move forward.

Risk audits are a critical first step in any security plan. There’s no better way to figure out where your system stands now, and how to get it to where it needs to be.

And as cybercriminals become more ingenious, it is more important than ever to get a complete assessment to properly combat them.

If you’d like to have a thorough cybersecurity risk audit of your own business, DOT Security is happy to help. Learn more about how to get one by visiting the Why DOT? page or talking to one of our specialists about what we can do for you today.