Why Your Business Needs to Do a Data Audit — And How to Do It

Data Audit
5 min read
James Mignacca
April 5, 2023
James Mignacca
April 5, 2023
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Data is the lifeblood of your business. But data proliferation makes it difficult to keep track of it all—and that’s where a data audit comes in.

A data audit is a process used to identify and assess the security risks associated with your organization’s sensitive information. By conducting regular audits, you can ensure your organization’s data remains secure and compliant with industry regulations.

5 reasons your business needs a data audit:

1. To identify data sources

A comprehensive data audit will help you discover where your sensitive information is stored and how it flows throughout your organization. This includes identifying external sources such as cloud storage services or third-party vendors who have access to your systems. Knowing exactly where your critical assets reside will allow you to better protect them from potential threats like cyberattacks or unauthorized access attempts.

2. To improve your organization’s security posture

Regularly auditing your systems allows you to detect vulnerabilities before they become serious problems for your business operations. You can also use this opportunity to review existing security policies and procedures for areas that need improvement or updates based on changes in technology or compliance requirements over time.

3. To monitor access controls

As part of the audit process, organizations should review user permissions across their networks and applications regularly in order to ensure only authorized personnel have access to confidential information at all times. This helps reduce the risk of insider threats by limiting exposure points within the system while still allowing users the privileges needed for their job functions without compromising security protocols.

4. To detect unauthorized activity

Audits provide visibility into suspicious activity that may not be detected through traditional monitoring methods such as antivirus software or firewalls alone – including malicious insiders attempting unauthorized activities on company networks or devices connected remotely via VPNs. Data audits provide details that can help you quickly respond if any malicious behavior is identified.

5. To ensure compliance requirements are met

Depending on the industry your organization operates within, there may be specific regulatory requirements related to handling customer/client personal identifiable information (PII). Periodic reviews are an effective way to ensure compliance standards are met, and using automated tools can help. These tools enable companies to not only meet but exceed current privacy laws. They also give you peace of mind in knowing the proactive steps you’re taking to protect customer/client PII.

Regular audits provide invaluable insight into how well protected your organization's digital assets really are - helping you make informed decisions about future investments when it comes to improving your organization’s attack surface strategy.

By regularly auditing your data, you can identify potential security risks and take steps to protect your sensitive information. But how do you go about conducting a data audit?

5 steps you can take to conduct a data audit:

1. Identify your data sources

The first step in conducting a data audit is to identify all of the sources where your organization stores its data. This includes both internal and external sources such as databases, cloud storage services, file servers, email systems, etc. Make sure to include any third-party vendors or partners that have access to your data as well.

2. Assess your data security practices

Once you’ve identified all of the places where your organization stores its data, it’s time to assess how secure those locations are from potential threat vectors like malware attacks. Look at things like encryption protocols used for storing and transmitting sensitive information, authentication methods for accessing stored files or databases, and other measures taken by IT staff to ensure that only authorized personnel can access confidential information.

3. Analyze access controls

It’s important that only authorized personnel have access to certain types of sensitive information within an organization, and that access is revoked when it’s no longer needed. Take a look at the access controls you currently have in place to make sure they are up-to-date and properly configured. This includes things like user accounts, passwords, permissions, etc.

4. Review data retention policies

Make sure your organization has clear policies in place for how long certain types of data should be retained and what should happen to it once its useful life has expired. This will ensure that you don’t keep unnecessary information around for too long – which can open up potential security risks if not managed properly.

5. Monitor your network activity

Regularly monitoring your network activity is an important part of any data audit process. Look out for suspicious or unauthorized activities such as unusual logins or downloads from sensitive databases or files servers – this could indicate a potential breach of security protocols within your organization and needs to be addressed immediately if found.  

Conducting a regular data audit supports scalable attack surface management and is essential to the security of your organization’s confidential information. Traditional data auditing processes focus on auditing data to assess data quality or how your data is used for specific purposes. It can help to identify redundancies or data silos but may not incorporate data access information.

The Cavelo platform takes data auditing processes one step further by including file audit reporting capabilities to report when files in an organization have been accessed, and by whom. Data auditing works together with the platform’s inventory and asset discovery, data tracking, data access, and data protection capabilities to achieve Cyber Asset Attack Surface Management (CAASM), and help your team maintain full visibility of all your business’s assets, and the sensitive data they contain.

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