What Is a Data Security Audit? Definition and Best Practices

For any company or a single user, data is very important. In the wrong hands, it can cause chaos. With the growing cybersecurity threat, you need to keep your data safe, especially when your customers’ data is there as well.

But how will you know if your company’s data security is perfect to deal with hackers or prevent any breach? A data security audit is the answer.

Building on that, in this post we’re going to discuss what a data security audit is. We’ll also discuss why your company needs a data security audit. Finally, we’ll get to know some best practices before you carry out a data security audit at your company. So, let’s take a deep dive.

What Is a Data Security Audit?

What comes to your mind when you think of an audit? A surprise inspection where a group of people checks various processes at your company to find out if something is wrong? Well, you guessed it correctly. And a data security audit is no different. The goal is to check your company’s data, both physical as well as virtual. Physical data may include employee or financial details of your company, stored in files. But in the current digital age, most companies store these data virtually—that is, in servers.

Data audits are of two types.


Auditors interview the staff, asking how they work to keep the data safe. Also, they review data storage app access control. Not only that, auditors even check physical access to the data and find out if there’s any weakness.


Here, auditors use software to check and generate audit reports. In an automated audit, auditors target personal computers, mainframes, routers, and servers.

Now that we know what a data security audit is, let’s find out why it’s important to carry one out at your company.

Why Does Your Company Need a Data Security Audit?

The threat of hackers and other kinds of security breaches is rising at an alarming level. Presently, companies are facing a threat in keeping their sensitive data secure. They need to follow new rules and update their existing security to keep their data safe. But how do they get the assurance that the security measures are right? Data security audits provide a solution by:

  • Analyzing and generating a report. This report states if your company’s data security measures meet the standard requirements.
  • Examining privacy-related issues. This includes checking if your data privacy measures meet global requirements and data compliance policies like GDPR.
  • Ensuring whether any rules are there to notify you in case of a security breach.
  • Generating a report about the risk that comes with sharing data within the company.
  • Providing a cost-effective and practical solution to enhance your data security.
  • Creating new rules and providing suggestions to improve your company’s data security.

Now that we know what a data security audit is and why your company needs it, let’s proceed. In the next section, we’ll learn about some best practices to follow while carrying out a data security audit.

Best Practices of a Data Security Audit

Let’s discuss some best practices to ensure that your audit goes uninterrupted.

Hire External Auditors

You may think, why should I hire an external agency for the audit? I can do it in house and save some budget. Well, it never works out well.

The process of carrying out an in-house audit is just like developers testing their own code. Your team may turn a blind eye to minor but critical problems, thereby resulting in an incomplete report. There’s a high chance that your internal audit team will miss some blind spots. Those blind spots can result in serious problems in the future.

It’s ideal to seek help from an experienced audit firm. Hire a firm with lots of experience auditing corporate projects. They can help you by pointing out each and every problem and suggesting solutions to improve data security.

Collect All Info Before the Audit

To complete the audit quickly, gather all info before carrying out the audit. Ask your auditors what they need.

The auditors may need info like a list of mobile devices or laptops used by your employees. They may need firewall or antivirus details or a network topology map. The auditors may need access to certain network systems before the audit. Arrange for that or the process may consume a lot of time during the audit.

Also, remember to ask the auditors for their official policies. Go through the policies and try to discern if you’re OK with all of their processes and tactics.

Get Your Team on Board

This is perhaps the most important process before the audit. Gather your team and employees and inform them about the upcoming audit. Explain to them why the audit team needs their full cooperation. Your employees should help them by answering all the questions and providing all the required details. They must understand that providing the correct info will help the auditors point out weaknesses or blind spots. Only by fixing those blind spots can you improve the data security of your company.

Informing your employees will also help prevent conflicting events. For instance, what if a project manager or sales team has arranged a client visit on the same day? In that case, you can postpone the audit.

Study the Report and Rectify Weak Zones

Now that your audit is complete, the audit team will provide you with a report. The report will cover what you need to improve your data security. Either the audit team or your company’s security team will come up with a plan.

The plan can be generic or customized based on the security measure of your company. Study the plan and ask the experts to clarify some details if you have trouble with something. Once everything is clear to you, arrange a meeting with your employees. Officially announce the new changes that you’ll be implementing.

Once the changes are ready, ask your IT team to provide the software, security systems, and other hardware. You’ll also need to arrange training sessions for your employees. The training is mandatory if you implement any new data security or access control software. Also, ask your IT team to come up with a disaster recovery plan. Ask them for a backup plan for your company’s data as well, in case something goes wrong.

Don’t Be Satisfied With Just One Audit

Do you know what the most alarming nature of cyber threats is? They evolve like bacteria and try to counter the security measures that you have to protect your data.

Suppose you get a perfect audit score and need only to install a new firewall to protect your data. This doesn’t mean that your data is safe for a lifetime. Who knows? Within a year, hackers may come up with a new way of breaching that firewall. However, with growing cyber threats, network and data security measures are evolving as well.

So, carry out a data security audit after a certain time gap, either half-yearly or once per year. The audit team will have updated info about the weak zones through which a data breach may occur. They can run checks across your system and provide you the preferred solution to prevent a data breach or cyberattack.

Ensure Your Data’s Security by Carrying Out an Audit

Cyberattacks are quite scary. They can happen anytime without any warning. No one can predict when these attacks will happen. These attacks can misuse both employee data and client data for some serious crimes. As a result, you could face a severe lawsuit, and in the worst case, your company could go bankrupt within weeks.

But having an impeccable defense system will put up a wall against these cyberattacks and keep your data safe. The only way to know if that wall is unbreakable? Carry out a data security audit from a reputable audit firm. If they point out any weak points, rectify them and be assured that your data is safe within your company or a data center facility.

This post was written by Arnab Roy Chowdhury. Arnab is a UI developer by profession and a blogging enthusiast. He has strong expertise in the latest UI/UX trends, project methodologies, testing, and scripting.