Over the years, the world is going online at a very fast pace especially with the introduction of the Internet of Things. Organizations have also been trying to tap this potential and are diversifying their online operations. However, while expanding online, cyber risks also increase. According to reports, there has been a steady increase in cybercrime over the years.

The results of a security breach can be devastating for an organization both financially and reputation-wise. To avoid this from happening, conducting an IT security audit becomes important. It is only through an IT security audit that organizations can find loopholes and patch them. Thereby keeping hackers at bay.

Emphasizing on the importance of security, Bill Gates once remarked,

Security is, I would say, our top priority because for all the exciting things you will be able to do with computers – organizing your lives, staying in touch with people, being creative – if we don’t solve these security problems, then people will hold back.

What is IT Security Audit?

An IT security audit is basically an overall assessment of the organization’s IT security practices both physical and non-physical (software) that can potentially lead to its compromise.

This includes things like vulnerability scans to find out loopholes in the IT systems. Or doing penetration testing to gain unauthorized access to the systems etc. Finally, reports generated after performing all the necessary procedures are then submitted to the organization for further analysis.

An IT security audit also comprises the physical part. In which, the auditor verifies physical hardware access security and other administrative issues. However, this article only covers the non-physical part of an IT security audit.

Types of IT Security Audit

There is more than one way to categorize an IT security audit. Generally, it’s been categorized on the basis of approach, methodology, etc. Some of the common categorizations are:

Approach Based

  • Black Box Audit: Here, the auditor only knows about the info that is publically available regarding the organization that is to be audited.
  • White Box Audit: In this type of security audit, the auditor is provided with detailed info (i.e. source code, employee access, etc) regarding the organization that is to be audited.
  • Grey Box Audit: Here, the auditor is provided with some info, to begin with, the auditing process. This info can also be gathered by the auditors themselves but is provided to save time.

Methodology Based

  • Penetration Tests: The auditor tries to break into the organization’s infrastructure.
  • Compliance Audits: Only certain parameters are checked to see if the organization is complying with security standards.
  • Risk Assessments: An analysis of critical resources that may be threatened in case of a security breach.
  • Vulnerability Tests: Necessary scans are performed to find possible security risks. Many false positives may be present.
  • Due Diligence Questionnaires: Used for an analysis of existing security standards in the organization.
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Importance of an IT security audit

  • Protects the critical data resources of an organization.
  • Keeps the organization complaint to various security certifications.
  • Identifies security loopholes before the hackers.
  • Keeps the organization updated with security measures.
  • Identifies physical security vulnerabilities.
  • Helps in formulating new security policies for the organization.
  • Prepares the organization for emergency response in case of a cybersecurity breach.

How to conduct an IT security audit for your business? [With tools]

Before beginning with the process of security audits, it is important to use the right set of tools. Kali Linux is one such OS that is customized and contains a bundle of tools to conduct a security audit. This OS can be used by installing on a separate machine or making the present machine dual-booted or on a virtual machine. To install it on a virtual machine, follow this article.

Once everything is set let’s begin!

1. Recon Dog

While doing a black box IT security audit, it is necessary to gather some info about the target like CMS being used, etc. This would help in narrowing down and targeting the precise security weak points. Recon dog is just the right tool for this purpose. This tool requires no installation so download it from here and start using it as a normal script.

Alternatively, you can open up your terminal in Kali and type:

git clone https://github.com/s0md3v/ReconDog

This will save it into a directory called ReconDog. Now navigate to the directory and run it using the following commands:

cd ReconDog
python dog

Thereafter, an interface will open asking you for the type of recon you wish to perform. Once you enter the recon option, it will ask for the target URL. After typing it, press enter and the scan will start.

IT Security Audit

2. Nmap

Another great tool to conduct an IT security audit is Nmap. It can be used to discover open port vulnerabilities and to fingerprint the network internally as well as over the internet. To use this tool, open the terminal in Kali and type:

nmap -v -sS -A -T4 target

Replace target with the IP address you wish to scan. This command runs a stealth scan against the target and tries to detect the Operating system and its version. For more help type:

nmap -h
IT Security audit using nmap

3. Nikto

Nikto is another great tool to find vulnerabilities in the server. Use it to discover all kinds of potential server misconfigurations. However, it also generates a lot of false positives so they need to be verified by exploiting. To scan your site using Nikto, open the terminal in Kali and type:

nikto -h www.your-site.com

For more help type:

nikto -H
IT Security Audit Nikto

4. Metasploit Framework

Metasploit is perhaps one of the most powerful exploitation frameworks used to conduct an IT security audit. All the potential vulnerabilities discovered using Nikto can be checked using Metasploit as it contains a large number of exploits. To use them, open the terminal in Kali and type:

msfconsole

This will load the Metasploit framework. For further using Metasploit, read this article.

Metasploit

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5. Xsser

While conducting an IT security audit, it is important to check for common web injection vulnerabilities like SQL injection and cross-site scripting. To tool used to check for XSS vulnerabilities in your website is Xsser. To use it, open the terminal in Kali and type:

xsser --gtk

This will open a graphical interface like the one in the image given below. Just set the necessary options and start hunting for XSS bugs!

6. Sqlmap

To check for SQLi bugs on your site, there is no better tool than Sqlmap. Firstly select a parameter you wish to test. Thereafter, open the terminal in your Kali and type:

sqlmap -u "www.your-site.com/page?param=1" --dbs --random-agent --batch

Replace the URL part with the URL of your site and page with the name of the page you wish to test for SQLi and param with the parameter you wish to check. Thereafter, this command will automatically try to exploit SQLi bugs and enumerate the database names to you. For more info type:

sqlmap -h
IT Security Audit using SQLMAP

IT security audit service by Astra

Although this article covers many tools it is just introductory in nature. The hacker is smarter than you would imagine. Therefore, for better security and avoiding the cumbersome process of the manual security audits, it is advised to go for a professional security audit.

Astra provides a robust IT security audit with more than 1250+ active security tests. Plus, the pricing is very flexible so there is something for everyone to choose from. No matter what plan you choose, Astra’s support ensures that all doubts regarding security audits are clear to you. Some of the top security issues tested by Astra are:

  • Application or Framework Specific Vulnerabilities.
  • Configuration and Deployment Misconfiguration.
  • Broken or Improper Authentication.
  • Identifying Technical & Business Logic Vulnerabilities.
Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing by Astra
Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing by Astra

If you have any more doubts regarding the IT security audit, feel free to contact us!

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About The Author

Jinson Varghese

Jinson Varghese Behanan is an Information Security Analyst at Astra. Passionate about Cybersecurity from a young age, Jinson completed his Bachelor's degree in Computer Security from Northumbria University. When he isn’t glued to a computer screen, he spends his time reading InfoSec materials, playing basketball, learning French and traveling.You can follow him on Medium or visit his Website for more stories about the various Security Audits he does and the crazy vulnerabilities he finds.

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