How frequently do you check the digital security of your business? We explain how you can do a security audit in just 10 minutes.
No matter the size, maturity or industry, pretty much every business could benefit from boosting their digital security. At Telavox, we’re constantly working to ensure our digital security is the best in class, both internally and for our customers. For example, Telavox offers an integration with BankID, a Swedish authentication tool that allows customers to verify themselves via the phone. This allows businesses using our telephony and PBX solutions to ensure they offer the most secure service possible to their customers.
Whilst larger businesses may be able to call upon the expertise of specialised IT professionals and security experts, that’s not always feasible for every company. With the digital landscape constantly evolving, and new security threats emerging every day, it’s good practice to regularly run security audits to ensure your business is prepared and protected.
Of course, creating and maintaining extensive digital security for a business can be a full-time job and requires extensive knowledge and experience. But it’s possible for any business to conduct a preliminary security audit in just a few minutes in order to iron out any basic mistakes and minimise the risk of malicious actions.
What is a security audit?
When we talk about a security audit, we simply mean a general check of a few different aspects of your business to ensure that they are following best practices and agreed protocols. If everything is up to scratch, great! But if it turns out that a few things aren’t being done correctly, it’s better to identify that early on rather than waiting until a problem arises.
Who should do a security audit?
Businesses that have the resources available may hire external experts to review their security on a periodic basis. Or they may have staff in-house whose job it is to constantly challenge and check the digital security of the company.
In other cases, it might fall on the IT Manager or Head of Operations to keep an eye on things. However, every single employee should be security-minded and should be checking to ensure that they are following the protocols of the business. Anyone with admin access to any tools should be especially mindful of how these tools are used and who has access to them.
How often should I check my digital security?
Depending on the scale required, you might conduct a security audit once a year for a really thorough review. Or for a quick health check, you may do it as frequently as once a month. A good rule of thumb is to do a quick internal security review every time you onboard a new staff member or introduce a new tool or software. This is because at these times, you’ll already (hopefully) be thinking about the permissions and access you should be granting. Whilst you’re at it, it’s worth taking a few extra minutes to ensure that everything is as it should be for the rest of your team.
How to do a quick security audit:
Doing a full root-and-branch review is an incredibly detailed process and is beyond the scope of this article. Instead, let’s focus on the quick and easy tasks you can do on a regular basis to keep things ticking over and prevent problems from snowballing. There are a few things you can check in just 10 minutes to give you peace of mind.
1. Check your company policies
First things first – in order to judge whether your security is up to standard, you should check what those standards are supposed to be. If you have defined documents or principles, it’s worth taking a few moments to refresh your memory on these. This has two benefits: firstly, you have the standards and processes in mind when you’re doing the rest of your review.
Secondly, you might spot something that needs to be updated or changed. For example, you might have a policy that requires all new hires to physically visit the office to sign their contract. But in a new world of hybrid and remote working, this might no longer be necessary or fit for purpose. Rather than ignoring outdated policies, it’s best to identify these potential problems and come up with solutions in order to avoid issues down the line.
2. Update your passwords
Security experts will tell you that your password should contain a complicated mixture of letters, numbers, special characters, that you should change your passwords regularly and that you should use a different password for every tool and platform. In reality, we know that most people don’t do this. But it is worth regularly checking what passwords you’re using and evaluating whether they’re secure enough. Too many businesses end up in trouble because their supposedly secure systems are based on passwords like BUSINESS_NAME_123!.
Check your login details, update any that look weak or too easy to guess, and try as far as possible to use different passwords in order to prevent compromising your entire tech stack.
Additionally, if you believe any of your passwords may have been shared within the company and aren’t sure who knows them, this may be a good time to change them. If you really need to share a single account, ask an IT expert about investing in a password vault.
Pro tip! Remember to change passwords when employees leave the business, or any time they no longer need access to a particular tool.
3. Review access and permissions
Ideally, you never share passwords or login details with anyone. Most tools support multiple logins and accounts, and enable you to set different access levels depending on the seniority of employees and the different features they need.
It’s good practice to periodically check who has access to what, especially when you have been using a tool for a while. It’s very common for an employee to start with basic user access, but eventually something arises, which means they receive admin access to help out with a particular task. Before you know it, you have a huge number of people, all with access to the most sensitive aspects of the tool, who don’t really need it.
Check the access levels of your team and consider whether they really need to be at those levels. Many tools and platforms are now making their permissions more granular, which means it’s easier to turn on and off particular features for different staff members. If you haven’t looked at this in a while, it’s good to take a moment to see who is able to perform certain actions in your tools and think about whether that’s needed. This is especially important for anybody who has access to customer information or anything to do with finances or payment.
You don’t necessarily need to check every single tool every time you do an audit. Whenever you add a new user, it’s good to do a quick sanity check of the rest of them. Other than that, you might want to review each tool in your tech stack approximately once per quarter.
4. Check your site’s security
Website security can be quite complicated, but fortunately most hosting platforms are getting better at flagging issues in a way that’s quite easy to understand and take action. For example, they may identify suspicious log-in attempts and inform you so you can determine whether or not they are genuine. If you receive a log-in attempt from a location that doesn’t correspond with where your employees are located, your details may have been compromised and you should take action immediately.
Reviewing your site security brings other benefits. You may additionally identify toxic backlinks, which aren’t specifically related to the security of your website per se, but which can damage your business’ online reputation and make it harder for your customers to find you online. Toxic backlinks refer to links to your website coming from suspicious or poor-quality websites. You can attempt to get these removed or disavow them so search engines no longer associate you with the negative source.
Pro tip! These tasks don’t need to be specific to managers. Ask your team members to regularly review security policies and refresh their passwords in order to keep things safe. This has the added benefit of ensuring all employees recognise the responsibility they have when it comes to digital security. Make it part of your business culture.
Taking a quick look at the digital security of your business can save you a lot of problems further down the road. It doesn’t need to be a huge task. Taking 10 minutes to conduct a security audit on a semi-regular basis is a great way to prevent minor problems from becoming huge issues for your business.