You have been notified of, or are planning, an upcoming audit or assessment to your IT services or cybersecurity program.  Audits can be intimidating and stressful situations. You want to ensure that the audits as seamless as possible. Here are some tips to help you:

(1) Notify Management. You need to notify senior management of the upcoming audit, schedule, scope,and what’s at stake for the organization (e.g., certification, future or continued business, customer facing reports, penalties).  Your team and organization need to be prepared to respond quickly to the requests of the auditors.

(2) Review the assessment / audit you are undergoing. Depending on the type of audit, you should be able to get a list of controls and assessment guides for how the auditors will be assessing your organization.  For Department of Defense (DoD) against DFARS 252.204-7012, you can use the NIST 800-171A Assessing Security Requirements for Controlled Unclassified Information.  Some agencies will have assessment guides that will inform you what information the assessors are seeking. Regardless of the framework, review the frameworks controls and guidance for an idea how the auditors will be assessing your compliance.

(3)  Organize Documentation. Ensure that all of your applicable policies, procedures, standards, and guidelines are readily available and easy to retrieve for the auditors.  If these are spread out across different repositories or document management systems, consider staging them in a central location to save time and the stress of hunting for them during the audit.  During this process, review the documents for recent reviews and ensure that any requirements, like annual review, have been met.

(4) Prepare Your Team. If interviews will be part of the assessment, ensure that you have identified the subject matter experts (SMEs) and reminded them of the controls expected for their areas of responsibility.  The SMEs can also assist with assessing gaps. You need to ensure that there is a knowledgeable delegate or SMEs available during the audit.

(5) Assess Gaps. Run a trial assessment of your own and address any findings.  If the assessment allows for a Plan of Action & Milestones (POA&MS) ensure that these are up to date.  Make sure to focus on areas of previous findings, if applicable, as these will receive extra scrutiny.

You want to do everything you can to ensure that your audit goes well.  While these are good tips to prepare for a cybersecurity audit, remember to continuously monitor your information security program.  Continuously monitoring and tracking your compliance can help you maintain the appropriate security for your organization based on risk and requirements.

The team at CastleLock has decades of experience across government, finance, health, manufacturing, telecom, and other industries in establishing effective security controls to fit your organization.   Whether you are preparing for an upcoming audit or dealing with the findings from a previous audit CastleLock has the skills and services to help ensure a smooth audit process so you can focus on your core business.  Let CastleLock help – info@castlelock.com.

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