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Surviving a third party onsite audit

Published: 2009-08-16
Last Updated: 2009-08-16 21:38:48 UTC
by Mari Nichols (Version: 1)
2 comment(s)

How serious are you about your company's information security?  You will get very serious quickly when your company is audited by a third party.  These aren't third party vendors either, we're talking about the pending alliance will be profitable for your organization, get us through this audit...type of third party audit.

Playing these situations to your fullest abilities will not only increase the profitability of your business, it will also result in a tightened down security posture for your company.  I know, audits tend to cause headaches, neck pain as well as stress and the related "burn out" syndrome. But, I say expand your horizons, take a look at the big picture.  How close are you to the ISO standards?  What are those little pet projects that are curtailed by cultural issues which require C-level buy-in?  This may be the straw that increases security in your environment.  You may even get your pet project going again after frustrating funding delays.

I seem to be going through my fair share of these lately and have a few pieces of advice for those facing this same reality.

  1. Stay calm and be prepared to the best of your ability.
  2. Provide the auditor with a hard and soft copy of your IT Security policy, hopefully one based on Internationally agreed standards.
  3. Use post-it flags to mark answers in the policy to any questions provided in advance. Saving the auditor time is a good thing.
  4. Make sure your policies include the approval date and revision histories for each section of policy.
  5. Set up a clean "routine" image workstation for the auditor to verify at their leisure.
  6. Have copies of your Security Awareness Training materials ready.
  7. Give heads up to the collateral departments which will need to provide requested documentation.  Like HR for background checks and Physical Security for access logs. 
  8. Practice accessing your logs from any SEIM or logging device.  Double check logging enabled settings on all critical servers.
  9. Allow the examiner to work in a secured environment away from prying eyes and curious onlookers.
  10. Re-evaluate and study your questionnaire answers from the previous phases of the audit.
  11. Showing your professionalism and your dedication to security will undoubtedly assist in obtaining the vital business alliances required in our global economy.

 Let me know some of your audit survival skills and secrets and I'll update this page with your ideas.

Mari Nichols - Handler on Duty

Keywords: Audit third party
2 comment(s)
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