Undergoing a security audit for your company may be very stressful at times and can often cause undue stress to all of those involved in the process, but with these simple steps your audit is sure to run smoothly and in your favor and the team involved. After all; IT security is of the utmost importance these days due to the amount of data breaches that are happening.

Although it may feel like an intrusive examination, the measuring of your company’s ability to conform to established criteria concerning your information systems security aptitudes are in your best interest. Researching and organizing yourself to comply with such criteria will benefit your company by improving its efficiency and bringing it to the next level. With the following 5 steps, you can ensure that your audit takes place in a friendly and timely manner with the most advantageous results.

1. Research

Understanding why and how you will be audited is key to being able to thoroughly prepare for it. The security audit is there for you to test your systems, and so it is recommended to have knowledge of the ways in which these will be tested. The security of your information systems may be assessed via a variety of methods, such as general assessments of your systems’ compliance with established legislations, evaluations of its weaknesses and points of vulnerability, and penetration testing to determine how secure your systems are. Among these, criteria may be enforced by laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), or follow international computer security standards as approved by the Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation (CC). Being up to date with the latest security requirements allows you to accommodate for any changes to be made before the audit, and so enhances chances for it to run quickly and well.

2. Plan ahead

Once you have researched and detected the elements needing improvement, plan to improve them in accordance with the criteria before the audit takes place. Prepare all information that may be required by your auditor such as diagrams or inventories to avoid delays, and deliver them in advance to demonstrate efficiency and expertise in your systems. Doing so will not only give a good impression, but will help your auditor organize the audit so that it remains concise and stress-free. Before the audit, review your information systems and make certain that you can track and document all sensitive data that they transmit and process, including any changes you may have implemented. Finally, in preparation for your audit, know that you are capable of providing your own assessments of your systems with evidence of past conducted penetration tests.

3. Prep your team

No audit will go well if your team is unprepared. Having a meeting with your colleagues to discuss the audit and the preparations you have made will allow them to facilitate the process. Make sure that they are well aware of the criteria you will be evaluated upon, and advise them to revise the systems they are responsible for to guarantee they can answer any questions the auditor may have. When prepping your team, let them know how important it is that they have all the equipment and other tools necessary to demonstrate the operations of your systems to the auditor. This will prove that your company is efficient and organized, showing the auditor that you take the security of your information systems seriously.

4. Remain truthful and clear

Now for when your audit actually takes place: always remain truthful and clear when speaking with your auditor. Auditors may not be as well informed of the technicalities of your specific systems as you are, but they are sure to have enough technical background knowledge to recognize if you are lying to them. This will make them suspicious and likely to be more scrutinizing with the rest of the audit. If they do not understand something, you can be helpful and exemplify your expertise by offering clear and simple explanations. Show that you are confident and know your company well enough to answer any questions they may have.

5. Ask

To show that you are hands-on and ready to commit yourself to improving the security of your information systems, ask for the auditor’s advice and be ready to offer solutions to the problems they bring up. Ask your auditor to inform you of anything needing improvement right away as this might give you the chance to make these changes before the end of the audit. If ever you disagree with an auditor, stay composed and simply request a constructive explanation. This shows that you are engaged and capable of the critical-thinking key to dealing with security issues.

So, if you are worrying about your next security audit, follow these 5 steps and you will be ready to succeed. Stress no more, and start the steps to success!