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Network Auditing

Do you want to know a secret? Security isn’t about hacking, nasty, malicious software or the vulnerability of the day. Security is about maintaining a system and process that provides access to critical data without exposing your company or customers to excessive risk. Auditing is one of the most important aspects of maintaining that system, because it provides the opportunity to test assumptions about the security posture of networked systems and compare that posture with standards and regulations. Auditors ask the questions “How do you know that you are secure?” and “Can you prove that your security technology works?”
Network Auditing software is a vital means for providing and enabling the process of carrying out most important vulnerability procedures of entire network. Network security is apt to provide the safety of the entire network eliminating the upcoming hazards that will evidently abrupt the working process.
An information security audit is an audit on the level of information security in an organization. Within the broad scope of auditing information security there are multiple types of audits, multiple objectives for different audits, etc. Most commonly the controls being audited can be categorized to technical, physical and administrative. Auditing information security covers topics from auditing the physical security of data centers to the auditing logical security of databases and highlights key components to look for and different methods for auditing these areas.
When centered on the IT aspects of information security, it can be seen as a part of an information technology audit. It is often then referred to as an information technology security audit or a computer security audit, technology (IT) infrastructure. As a general information IT is the area of managing technology and spans wide variety of areas that include but are not limited to things such as processes, computer software, information systems, computer hardware, programming languages, and data constructs. In short, anything that renders data, information or perceived knowledge in any visual format whatsoever, via any multimedia distribution mechanism, is considered part of the domain space known as Information Technology (IT). The evaluation of obtained evidence determines if the information systems are safeguarding assets, maintaining data integrity, and operating effectively to achieve the organization's goals or objectives. These reviews may be performed in conjunction with a financial statement audit, internal audit, or other form of attestation engagement.
IT audits are also known as "automated data processing (ADP) audits" and "computer audits"
Various authorities have created differing taxonomies to distinguish the various types of IT audits. Goodman & Lawless state that there are three specific systematic approaches to carry out an IT audit:
1. Technological innovation process audit. This audit constructs a risk profile for existing and new projects. The audit will assess the length and depth of the company's experience in its chosen technologies, as well as its presence in relevant markets, the organization of each project, and the structure of the portion of the industry that deals with this project or product, organization and industry structure.
2. Innovative comparison audit. This audit is an analysis of the innovative abilities of the company being audited, in comparison to its competitors. This requires examination of company's research and development facilities, as well as its track record in actually producing new products.
3. Technological position audit: This audit reviews the technologies that the business currently has and that it needs to add. Technologies are characterized as being either "base", "key", "pacing" or "emerging".
Others describe the spectrum of IT audits with five categories of audits:
1. Systems and Applications: An audit to verify that systems and applications are appropriate, are efficient, and are adequately controlled to ensure valid, reliable, timely, and secure input, processing, and output at all levels of a system's activity.
2. Information Processing Facilities: An audit to verify that the processing facility is controlled to ensure timely, accurate, and efficient processing of applications under normal and potentially disruptive conditions.
3. Systems Development: An audit to verify that the systems under development meet the objectives of the organization, and to ensure that the systems are developed in accordance with generally accepted standards for systems development.
4. Management of IT and Enterprise Architecture: An audit to verify that IT management has developed an organizational structure and procedures to ensure a controlled and efficient environment for information processing.
5. Client/Server, Telecommunications, Intranets, and Extranets: An audit to verify that telecommunications controls are in place on the client (computer receiving services), server, and on the network connecting the clients and servers.
And some lump all IT audits as being one of only two type: "general control review" audits or "application control review" audits.
A number of IT Audit professionals from the Information Assurance realm consider there to be three fundamental types of controls regardless of the type of audit to be performed, especially in the IT realm. Many frameworks and standards try to break controls into different disciplines or arenas, terming them “Security Controls“, ”Access Controls“, “IA Controls” in an effort to define the types of controls involved. At a more fundamental level, these controls can be shown to consist of three types of fundamental controls: Protective/Preventative Controls, Detective Controls and Reactive/Corrective Controls.
Occasionally corporate networks are deployed and then left unattended and uncontrolled. While these networks still perform their intended function, they are left open to attack. Consider too the role of the IT department; constantly deploying new services, software and hardware. Add to the mix any number of staff members, each of whom depend upon the network on a daily basis, and you can quickly see how robust network security and management is paramount to the continued smooth operation of this most important business asset. The best way, most cost effective way to achieve it is with reliable network auditing software.
An up to the minute snapshot of the network is critical to those who are charged with keeping it running; and maintaining up-to-date records in between physical audits and upgrades will ensure that, when undertaken, those processes go smoothly.
I consider it necessary to share with you Vital information on Networt Auditing Reveal:
1. First, an audit confirms the existing topology and device configuration;
2. an audit lists any vulnerability found.
Confirming topology and configuration gives IT administrators assurance that a.) the network itself is configured to maximize efficiency and security and b.) all devices attached to the network are properly configured to the same purpose.
Comprehensive network auditing will also reveal any vulnerability negatively impacting network performance and hampering operations. Network auditing software further identifies devices and components that need to be replaced and any missing software updates.
The component diagram of a network plots all the components found, showing all access routes available on that network. The accuracy of this diagram is critical. Changes made to the network must be reflected in the overall component diagram. Good network auditing software will ensure that all routes on the network are scanned and accounted for regardless of network size or the location of networked devices.
An audit will further your insight into your network by retrieving hardware information such as memory, processors, display adapters, storage devices, motherboard details, printers, and ports in use. It also provides data about what people have accessed and the actions that were performed.
There are steps that organizations must take to become compliant to any number of industry specific regulations. For a network, one starts with a pre-assessment, where the IT infrastructure of the company is reviewed including application architecture, policies, procedures and processes, and the overall network design. Once this is done there must be efforts to standardize policies and processes across the entire IT domain. Once the policies are set up and in place, staff must be informed and trained for adhering to procedures in order to keep the organization compliant. It would also be beneficial for the organization to invest in network auditing software that monitors the network and system access to maintain management oversight into the network and its users and to improve network security. Regular network audits, assisted by auditing software, help organizations to maintain compliance with the relevant industry standards.
Nsauditor Network Security Auditor is a network security and vulnerability scanner that allows auditing and monitoring network computers for possible vulnerabilities, checking network for all potential methods that a hacker might use to attack it and create a report of potential problems that were found. Nsauditor is a complete networking software package that includes more than 45 network tools and utilities for network auditing, scanning,network connections monitoring and more. Overall, Nsauditor Network Security Auditor is a very complete package. The product contains a built-in database of known network security vulnerabilities, which allows you to select the items for scanning and add custom entries. Nsauditor can reveal and catalog a variety of information, including installed software, shares, users, drives, hotfixes, NetBios, RPC, SQL and SNMP information, open ports.
The effectiveness of the administrative, physical and technical controls on the network must be tested. Process and procedure policies safeguard the administrative security of the network, or that which is controlled by human actions. Physical safeguards meanwhile extend from actual physical card-key access to the data center to any steps taken to protect data and systems from natural disaster or environmental hazards. Technical controls would involve testing the IDS systems, firewalls, encryption and other security technologies deployed.
Technical controls, however, often require a penetration test which examines the network from the outside in, on the network perimeter. This kind of test typically starts with border routers and firewalls, and then moves into the core of the network where sensitive data is stored. From there checks are made to see if any vulnerability exists within the hosts.
Mainframes and the distributed network of servers typically contain the PHI databases that are restricted to particular users. In this instance it's important to ensure, for example, that restricted accounts cannot obtain escalated privileges gaining unauthorized access to certain areas on the network. Another example is the problem of default system administrator accounts that are often, but never should be, left blank.
A proper network audit will find and report these and other open point of possible attack. Of course the report will need to be acted upon to ensure that the corporation continues in compliance with its own policies and with outside regulatory requirements.
The Value of Network Auditing is in diminishing the upcoming huge problems small problems that will seem unmanageable.
The whole idea of compliance and auditing really just boils down to common sense in my opinion. To avoid the complicated process of engaging the services of professionals for keeping the whole computing process in form and to help you out of the situation is one key issue that is still a pending issue. It is still to be determined to seek such a way out or to make use of the innovations of computerized world.
I sincerely hope this article was of help to you, and as always welcome your feedback. Till Next Time!


Article Submited by Karine Iskandaryan

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