Cybersecurity audits have a way of bringing out the night-before-the-exam jitters.
Many organizations have a lot on the line for a successful audit. Gartner research indicates that for 56% of B2B and B2C customers, the cybersecurity posture of the organizations they work with is top-of-mind.
Passing a cybersecurity audit is also beneficial for:
- Attracting and qualifying for government and enterprise-level contracts
- Expanding into new regions or sectors
- Strengthening existing client relationships
- Giving your organization a PR boost
- Peace of mind for the efficacy of your cybersecurity compliance program
There's much to gain from passing a cybersecurity audit. And with preparation and the right tools, you can get to the audit phase feeling confident and relaxed.
Say goodbye to the jitters, and read on for our tips.
What's included in a cybersecurity audit?
Cybersecurity audits vary from framework to framework. However, there is topic overlap in some of the more popular frameworks, such as SOC 2 and ISO 27001.
We'll highlight SOC 2 here because the demand for certification is significant. As reported by the AICPA in a 2020 survey of CPAs, "the demand for SOC services was growing," and "the number of SOC 2 engagements increased by almost 50% from the previous two years."
To give you a sense of what is included in a cybersecurity audit, here's what to expect from SOC 2:
Letter of engagement
This outlines the audit's scope and identifies the auditing firm's responsibilities to your organization.
Quiz time! Here's where your IT compliance team demonstrates its readiness in controls, policies, and IT infrastructure.
Evidence of controls
Here's when your IT liaison will hand over the evidence and documentation of controls.
We get into this a little later, but depending on the first go-around, you're likely to have requests from your auditor for additional information about your controls or more details about your security processes.
After the auditor's requests have been satisfied, you will receive a report with the firm's assessment.
End-to-end compliance software makes understanding what your auditor will expect from you easy. By mapping your controls, evidence, and policies to the most current version of your selected framework, ControlMap identifies any gaps to address ahead of audit time.
Think of ControlMap as your audit's ground control, navigating you to a successful landing.
How do I prepare for a cybersecurity audit?
The following steps anticipate that you're well underway with your compliance journey. At this point, you have:
- Selected a framework or frameworks to pursue
- Put people in place to design and advocate for your compliance program
- Have your cybersecurity compliance program in development or practice
- Understand the scope of the audit (your examination criteria)
If you're just getting started, check out our essential resources:
How To Get Ahead with Cybersecurity Compliance
5 Steps to Foster a Culture of IT Compliance
ISO 27001 and SOC 2 Compliance: Can You Spot the Differences?
What is Compliance Automation Software?
How to prep for your cybersecurity audit
Assign an IT liaison
By now, you understand the importance of fostering a culture of IT compliance. And you've likely assembled a team of folks to manage an A+ compliance program. But auditing is a different animal. It would help if you had an IT liaison to coordinate with the auditing firm throughout the process.
While some audits measure a 'snapshot' in time of cybersecurity posture, others measure the operational management of compliance over an extended period. In either case, significant time is spent interfacing with the auditing firm.
To keep things clear and organized, assign an IT liaison to act as your organization's spokesperson throughout the auditing process.
With the compliance portal from ControlMap, your IT liaison can easily log in to view and maintain action items and materials related to the audit process.
Choose your auditor
You're in the driver's seat for choosing whom to work with.
Shop it out to find a firm that has audited organizations of your size and sector. You'll want a cultural fit, too; you need to feel empowered to ask questions and understand their process.
Some frameworks require auditors to have specific affiliations or certifications. SOC 2, for example, can only be conducted by AICPA-affiliated CPA firms. Want to skip a step? Work with one of ControlMap's partner auditors and expedite audit time by up to 80%.
Do a dress rehearsal
Dry run the real thing with an internal audit.
Internal audits are valuable for reviewing your controls, policies, and procedures. First-timers will also find a practice run particularly beneficial to compensate for their lack of experience in the auditing arena.
You can work with a third-party auditing firm or conduct it in-house. If you choose to keep it in-house (self-attestation, as it's called), take advantage of your cybersecurity compliance software's tools for aggregating the controls, evidence, risks, policies, and documents you need for your framework.
When the dust settles after your internal review, it's time to fill in the gaps.
ControlMap includes automatic gap identification so you can rapidly identify and remediate gaps in compliance. Gaps in compliance can impact whether your audit is successful or not.
Identifying gaps is critical: you may need to prioritize some areas over others or create a strategic plan to address gaps. Having every piece of data laid out for you clarifies the process.
Audits involve some back-and-forth. This dialogue can include the following:
- Requests for additional evidence or documents
- Follow-up questions related to security controls
Be prepared to meet your auditor's requests. With a workflow solution like ControlMap, you can easily pull documents and evidence and generate reports to expedite the audit process.
You can streamline information security policies, which we call "the bedrock of all security certifications," with ControlMap's policy management tools. Delegate policy updates by assigning edits to employees or departments and track changes in the platform.
The maintenance of cybersecurity compliance is ongoing. Even after a successful audit, there's a lot to keep organized. From collecting evidence to assessing risk, end-to-end compliance software pulls its weight in vastly reducing that workload.
Envision your cybersecurity audit success story
Imagine heading into your audit with confidence. Skip the jitters and win the report your industry demands. Reserve your demo with ControlMap to get started.