One challenge faced by nearly every CIO 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. That'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, I like to use the IT security audits as a positive to help you 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Even the best IT security is going to have gaps, whether your security is outdated or malicious software has advanced.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 since they can be used to identify gaps early, they can be used to keep security up-to-date for your organization. This is especially better than the alternative. If your organization doesn't do IT security 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 security.
How to use IT security audits to your advantage
The key to making your IT security audits work is to use them to your advantage and to your organization's advantage. An IT security audit will show areas in your security 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 your organization. In this way, IT security audits are not only useful to identify changes, but can be useful to help you make the changes, too. 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 within your system.
Build a comprehensive security program
Once you identify the gaps in your security, you can use the information to build a comprehensive security 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 IT security based on your own audits and gap assessments. That means you won't have a program that has great security for something that's not important to your organization. Instead, every aspect of the security program will be specifically designed for the needs of your organization.
Retire and replace legacy infrastructures
Another way you can use IT security audits to your advantage is by using 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 legacy infrastructures, as well. Recognizing where legacy programs are causing gaps can be a way to determine when to retire and replace legacy infrastructures. That way, you can ensure that every aspect of your security is meeting best practices standards as well as the needs of your organization.
Change your view on IT security audits
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 your IT security, view the 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. Instead, your security will be more up-to-date than your competitor, and you can 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 organization's data safe, IT security audits can be a valuable way to protect your organization's information technology. By focusing on the benefits of IT audits and using the information to your advantage, they are transformed from a way to identify gaps to a way to invest in your organization's security. You're going to have to do gap assessments for your organization. By viewing them as an investment and a way to improve your security, IT security audits aren't part of the problem anymore. 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. This is how you can help drive a transformation by securing the required investments to make it happen as a CIO.