How to Write a Security Audit Report
As a firm, conducting a security audit provides you with a perspective on your current security posture and its policies, infrastructure, and technologies adapted for protection. The process begins with understanding the context and business logic for the system, moves on to detecting and exploiting vulnerabilities, before ending with a security audit report that details the findings and steps for remediation.
The security audit report takes on a role of importance as it provides an understanding of the different security risks faced by the organization for all the stakeholders and the criticality associated with each of them. In this respect, it suggests remediation measures and techniques for retesting to properly evaluate the resolution of each security risk.
The Format for a Security Audit Report
A good security report not only provides insights into the security issues faced by the system but also sets forward an easy-to-follow format while following different compliance standards, customer reputation, and global/local laws.
- Scope of the auditing procedure
Whether a small or a large company, the scope or area of testing needs to be defined at the beginning of the security audit procedure by the responsible stakeholders. This will further define the testing process in terms of the documentation needed to identify the business logic, preparation of the list of vulnerabilities, attack methods, and the time required for the entire activity.
Some companies will also prefer to keep certain areas of their systems and/or network servers private to protect sensitive information such as customer details and business secrets – all of this needs to be conveyed to the auditor to ensure a smooth web security testing process.
- Description of the security issue
When each security vulnerability is identified, a detailed description should be provided for better understanding. This will include a proof-of-concept to reproduce the same issue, the future exploitation possibilities, the level of severity assigned, and the CVSS score of the security risk. A DAST checks all types of endpoints, including hidden endpoints, and simulates various types of attacks to identify security flaws.
- Remediation suggestions
This section will cover the steps to be taken for the resolution of each of the vulnerabilities, prioritized according to the CVSS score provided. For example, if a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack possibility has been discovered, the ideal fix/patch would be using a web application firewall and escaping or encoding the characters.
- References for further reading
This is mostly intended for the company’s IT team for further information on any aspect of the security audit report including blogs, whitepapers, journals, or any other material. It’ll provide a better perspective on the security issue or the suggested method for tackling such security issues. A better understanding can also lead to more efficient security barriers in the future since the team is able to visualize possible security issues.
What are the different compliance standards for security audit reports?
The preparation of a security audit report should cover all the important provisions under the intended compliance standard and its rules and regulations. Since most of the standards are interconnected, a similar protocol can be followed once you’re aware of the requirements under each standard.
Under this standard, 12 requirements are given on the protection provided for cardholder data and its storage, processing, and transmission. The PCI Security Standards Council has developed these requirements to protect users from financial frauds and phishing scams when providing their information to obtain different services.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) takes steps to protect the confidentiality and the integrity of electronic health records when recorded, used, or transmitted. The compliance standard sets requirements for all organizations involved in healthcare including healthcare providers, health plans, and associated businesses to ensure the safety and security of customer information.
- ISO 27001
This is the compliance standard for information security management by providing a tried-and-tested framework of best practices for detecting and mitigating various risks.
This auditing standard ensures that customer data is managed securely to protect both the organization’s interests as well as the sensitive information of the clients. This certification verifies that all the required steps for ensuring privacy and asset protection are taken by the company, making it one of the most popular standards in evaluating third-party providers.
- NIST Cybersecurity Framework
The NIST-CF ensures that organizations in the IT industry are better equipped to deal with cyberattacks through efficient risk management and effective security goals. This framework provides a list of flexible and repeatable processes for ensuring cybersecurity through a set of standardized rules and guidelines, prepared under the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA).
The importance of the security audit report comes from its presentation of information, detailed analyses, and its future usage in defining security policies. Therefore, it should be both comprehensive and understandable to all the stakeholders of the organization so that quick action can be taken in terms of resolving different vulnerabilities on the basis of the assigned severity. Such a fundamental approach in dealing with security issues ensures that the problem is dealt with from the root and the probability of reoccurrence is minimized as much as possible.