One challenge nearly every CIO faces is to close the gaps in IT security. CIOs know that no security infrastructure is perfect. Even if it works perfectly for your organization when you implement it, technology changes so quickly that it will need to be updated or replaced to continue to protect your organization’s data. It’s why a lot of CIOs feel like they’re playing catch-up with IT security. Instead of maintaining a well-oiled system, they’re plugging leaks to keep the organization running smoothly. Fortunately, IT security audits can help solve this problem.
Why IT security audits are valuable
Even the best IT security is going to have gaps, whether your security is outdated or malicious software has advanced. All organizations have areas in IT security that need to be addressed to strengthen security and to keep data safe. That’s why IT security audits are valuable. They may be frustrating at the time, especially when gaps are found, but they can help identify gaps early, which can keep security up-to-date for your organization.
On the other hand, if your organization doesn’t do audits regularly, the only way to identify and fix gaps in security is when security and data are compromised through a breach or attack. IT security audits can instead be used to keep breaches from ever happening, ensuring the data in the organization remains secure, even as hackers develop new and innovative ways of breaking through.
Using IT security audits to your advantage
The key to making IT security audits work is to use them to your advantage. An IT security audit will show areas that need work or improvement. Instead of focusing on the gaps when they’re identified, focus on how you can use them to improve security. In this way, IT security audits are not only useful in identifying changes, but can be useful to help you make the changes. Specifically, IT security audits can be used to help you build a comprehensive security program and to identify legacy infrastructures that need to be retired and replaced.
Building a comprehensive security program
Once you identify gaps in your security, you can use the information to build a comprehensive program that meets the unique needs of your organization. This type of program will close the gaps in security and ensure that the appropriate users have access to the data they need. In addition, your security program can prioritize gaps in security based on your own audits and assessments. That means you won’t devote as much efforts to areas that aren’t important to your organization as a whole. Instead, every aspect of the security program will be specifically designed for the needs of your organization.
Retiring and replacing legacy infrastructures
Another way to use IT security audits to your advantage is by leveraging the opportunity to retire and replace legacy infrastructures. Information technology can become outdated quickly. It’s not always practical to refit your entire system for new software all at once. So it’s likely that you still have legacy programs in place that aren’t meeting the organization’s needs. Your IT security audit can help identify areas of improvement that apply to those infrastructures. Recognizing where legacy programs cause gaps can be a way to determine when to retire and replace legacy infrastructures. That way, you can ensure every aspect of your security is meeting best practices standards, as well as the needs of your organization.
Changing your view
Since you know your security is going to have gaps and you’re going to have to do IT audits, the best way to handle them is to change the way you view the audits. Instead of seeing it as a way to play catch-up with IT security, view audits as an investment in your organization’s security. Yes, you’re going to find gaps and areas that need improvement. But by investing in IT security audits now, you can prevent major data breaches in the future. Your security will be more up-to-date than your competitor, and you’ll know that your stakeholders have safe access to whatever data they need.
Whether you’re a new CIO figuring out the security system in your organization, or you’ve been working for years to keep your data safe, IT security audits can be a valuable way to protect your organization’s IT investment. You’re going to have to do gap assessments for your organization; by viewing them as an investment and a way to improve security, IT security audits are no longer part of the problem. Instead, they are the solution. Use the findings to help establish a strategy, and most importantly, put together a plan with the necessary investments to close out the gaps to the board. By securing the required investments, the CIO can help drive transformation.
This piece was originally posted by David Chou, Chief Information and Digital Officer at Children’s Mercy Hospital, on his blog page. To follow him on Twitter, click here.
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