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Understanding Your IT Security Assessment Report & What Comes Next

By Eli Newman – Gone are the days when securing your company’s private data and business-critical systems was a one-and-done activity. Today, hackers and other malicious actors are constantly coming up with new ways to phish your employees, access your systems, and disrupt your operations for financial gain, meaning that you must always be on the lookout for potential weak points in your network. In other words, you need to be able to identify your IT system’s vulnerabilities before a hacker does. This can be done using an IT security assessment report, which aims to reveal system weaknesses to help firms evaluate and manage their risk. Knowing your network’s vulnerabilities enables you to make more informed decisions regarding changes to your current defense strategy in order to maintain a secure, healthy network. That said, it is important to note that while conducting the security assessment is an important step in improving your business’s cybersecurity, being able to understand and form a new plan based on the report’s findings is just as crucial. Read on as we explain how to read a security assessment report and discuss some important next steps.

How to Read Your IT Security Assessment Report

If you’re not an IT professional, reading the results of a security assessment might seem daunting. To better grasp what your report is telling you, you need to understand the purpose of each section in it.

The Key Components of an IT Security Assessment Report

Outlined below are three elements that most standard security assessment reports include.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is basically a general overview of the assessment’s findings. It gives enterprises a quick idea of how well or how poorly their systems and applications performed by highlighting the severity and number of risks that were identified during the scan. The purpose of the executive summary is to provide a “Big Picture” of the overall state of an organization’s IT security so that business leaders and managers can prioritize their cybersecurity efforts accordingly.

Assessment Overview

The assessment overview outlines the methodology, tools, and the basis for the analysis approach taken. This helps to give companies more insight into how their IT provider came to their final conclusion and ensures the legitimacy of the results.

Results & Recommendations

Perhaps the most vital portion of an IT security assessment report is the results and recommendations section. In this segment of the report, you can expect to see a description of each vulnerability that was detected, including what caused it, the severity of the issue, and a recommendation on how to fix it. The high level of detail in this particular section is key in helping organizations develop a strong course of action to address their existing network’s security problems.

So, What Now?

Performing a thorough assessment is a great start to improving your enterprise’s cybersecurity, but you’re not going to gain much by filing away your final assessment report immediately after checking the compliance checkbox. While security assessments are often part of certain sectors’ compliancy initiatives, there is so much more that you can gain from your report than merely fulfilling your legal obligations. In order to use your security assessment to its full advantage, you should do the following after you receive your results:

  1. Distribute the findings throughout the chain of command. Digesting the results of a security assessment can be difficult to do alone. Plus, you will likely need your boss’s approval to address certain risks.
  2. Use recommendations to your advantage. With your security assessment report in hand, you will have access to in-depth suggestions on how to address each risk. After reviewing these recommendations, you should put the information to use by creating a clear timeline with well-defined steps for fixing, mitigating, or accepting the risks associated with each weak point that was found. Remember: the idea is to work on proactively reducing your risk to prevent malicious actors from exploiting your system’s vulnerabilities, so don’t wait too long to formulate a plan and take action.
  3. Continue to use a consistent assessment methodology for tracking purposes. Keeping your testing methods and risk register format is key in allowing your organization to appropriately prioritize the importance of each issue. Additionally, it helps firms track their progress in terms of mitigating risk over time.

Are you seeking ways to better protect your enterprise’s data and business-critical applications from all the cyber threats that lurk online? When it comes to your business’s cybersecurity, striving for the bare minimum is never the way to go. That’s why Contigo’s HIPAA network security assessment services are designed to help you meet your industry’s compliance regulations and improve your overall IT system’s health. Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive assessment services and other cybersecurity solutions today.

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