If you face regulations regularly—for instance if you process credit cards or handle sensitive records of one sort or another—you’re vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches.
And you might be “taking care of” your security compliance.
In addition to simply fulfilling compliance concerns—those concerns that surround fines or penalties within your industry—organizations are growing more vulnerable because their technological infrastructure has problems with efficiency, your organization hasn’t evaluated risk management and security awareness has become a back burner issue.
That’s where a network assessment comes in.
What is a network assessment?
Network assessments can come in a variety of flavors, but generally speaking these assessments point out technical problems on your network that could ultimately cripple or at very least slow down your business operations.
What a network assessment does is it analyzes and assesses your organization’s technological infrastructure to make sure that your systems are running efficiently, while keeping a keen eye on security and compliance pressures.
These assessments usually identify the gamut of IT issues, exposing your business risks with specific technologies, and ultimately gives you and your team a roadmap to fixing those issues. Most importantly, an IT assessment of any kind should be making sure that your network is secure and that any risks or vulnerabilities on your network are exposed. Your assessment should also identify solutions to any problems identified.
What might your find in your assessment?
Since assessments may vary considerably depending on the skill or attention to detail of the team involved, you may not be getting the full story when requesting the audit. Often times—especially when it comes to companies looking to gain more business rather than help out someone in the community—we see assessments that aren’t complete are address issues out of context (issues solely to make you concerned, but might not necessarily be important for your organization’s continuity, security, or operations).
Note: consider reviewing a security assessment process before signing up for an assessment. This helps you understand what to expect from an assessment and how to evaluate the results you get back.
In general, here are a few basics you would get out of an assessment:
Process improvement—network assessments can dive into some issues with your operational efficiency, by identifying how your current use of technology might be improved upon with existing or emerging technological advances. In addition, an assessment may help you evaluate options if you are considering upgrading your software, hardware, or other IT infrastructure.
Evaluate systems and applications—an assessment will evaluate your applications and may help you understand whether they are reliable, efficient, effective, or secure to use. Also, assessments will point out any dying hardware or aging software that might impact operations sooner than later.
Cybersecurity—hackers and cybercriminals are exploiting new vulnerabilities in your networks practically daily. You should expect a network assessment that helps you understand where your specific vulnerabilities lie and expect to get help figuring out what your priorities should be to mitigate security risks.
How skilled is the engineer running your network assessment?
Skills vary considerably from company to company, but in general, anticipate an engineer to have a variety of experiences and skill sets as they relate to your network and its security and functionality. In general you should expect technical experience with IT security and infrastructure (hardware and software), IT asset auditing, security risk management, security testing and auditing, computer security, evaluating security standards, hardware and software standards, AND the ability to communicate with non-technical audiences what the heck all of the data he or she collects actually means.
Will a network assessment really help anything?
Frankly, cybersecurity experts would unanimously recommend getting a network security assessment for the sole reason of getting reassured that what you’re currently doing is actually working to keep your organization and everyone inside it secure from data thieves and cyberattacks.
At very least, you’ll be able to reaffirm that your security is top notch and you’re not a sitting duck. But in every single assessment I’ve evaluated, I can tell you that there are at least a few simple areas that have big impact on your network security that aren’t quite right. It could be password management, could be patching, or even how your router is configured. Many of the small problems that security assessments expose are the types of undiscovered problems cybercriminals are looking for every hour of every day.
Just ask yourself this one last question: do you trust your network security enough not to get a second opinion?