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March 2003

IT security auditing: Best practices for conducting audits

None of us relishes an audit--outsiders poking around for the holes in my system? When someone says "audit," you probably think of the surprise inspections your company's auditors pull to try to expose IT weaknesses (see "Incomplete Audits"). But you're the one on the hot seat if your organization gets hacked. If you're responsible for information security, you should want--you should insist--on thorough annual audits. In some cases, you may have no choice. Financial institutions, for example, are required to have external auditors certify compliance with regulations such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA). Your own organization's audit department may require it. Or potential partners or customers may insist on seeing the results of a security audit before they do business with your company and put their own assets at risk. So you bring the auditors in. But what if the auditors fail to do their job correctly? You're still the one feeling the heat after an attacker brings your Web site down or steals your customers' financial ...

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