Published 26 May 2023
What is a Security Audit Checklist?
A security audit checklist is a comprehensive tool used to assess the security measures and controls in an organization's systems, processes, and infrastructure. It typically includes a list of security requirements, best practices, and industry standards that organizations need to meet and review during the audit process to help them implement appropriate remediation measures for any vulnerabilities or threats.
Security Audit Checklist
Download this free security audit checklist to verify the effectiveness of your organization’s security measures and controls. Through an in-depth security audit, be able to identify areas for improvement and address security issues by doing the following:
- Fill in basic details about the audit, such as the company name, date, and name of the auditor.
- Answer Yes-No-NÁ questions on checking each aspect of the organization’s security system in place, including access controls, network security, data protection, physical security, and incident response.
- Add notes and attach relevant media such as photos and files to provide context on audit findings.
- Assign corrective actions, summarize findings, and describe remediation plans.
- Add a digital signature to verify the completion of the audit before exporting it into a security audit checklist PDF, XLS, or Word file. Store it securely on the cloud for recordkeeping.
In this article
- Types of Security Audits
- Why Conduct Security Audits Using a Checklist
- What to Include in a Security Audit Checklist
- How to Create and Use One: 8 Steps
- FAQs About Security Audit Checklists
- Carry Out In-Depth Security Audits with SafetyCulture
- Related Security Audit Checklists
Types of Security Audits
There are various approaches to conducting a security audit that organizations can apply to gain comprehensive insights into their security posture and help identify and address vulnerabilities and risks. Also, it’s common for organizations to use a combination of the following types of security audits to achieve a robust and well-rounded security assessment:
- External Audits – performed by independent third-party organizations or auditors to identify vulnerabilities or weaknesses that could be exploited by external threats
- Penetration Tests – also known as ethical hacking and involve authorized attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in the organization’s systems and infrastructure to simulate real-world attacks and assess the effectiveness of existing security measures
- Vulnerability Scans – use automated tools to determine and evaluate potential security vulnerabilities in an organization’s systems, networks, and applications with the aim of prioritizing and remedying identified vulnerabilities
- Internal Audits – conducted by the organization’s own internal audit team or designated personnel to assess the organization’s adherence to security policies, procedures, regulatory requirements, access privileges, data handling practices, and overall compliance with security standards
Why Conduct Security Audits Using a Checklist
Security audits and the various approaches in which they can be performed are often comprehensive in nature and require a clear understanding of the importance of protecting an organization’s security system. Also, a good number of factors, aspects, and elements need to be considered during the systematic audit.
Hence, using a tool like security audit checklists is highly recommended to help streamline the step-by-step process and ensure no key details are missing and left unaddressed. Apart from that, conducting security audits using a checklist offers the following benefits:
- Comprehensive Coverage – ensures that no critical areas or security controls are overlooked during the audit as it serves as a systematic guide toward a comprehensive evaluation of the organization’s security posture
- Consistency – promotes consistency and standardization in the audit process, which allows for fair and unbiased evaluations across different systems, departments, or locations within the organization
- Compliance with Standards – helps organizations meet the requirements outlined in relevant standards to demonstrate compliance, address regulatory obligations, and fulfill industry-specific security requirements
- Efficiency and Time Savings – streamlines the audit process by reviewing and assessing specific checklist items without having to brainstorm or remember all the necessary aspects to consider repeatedly
- Documentation and Evidence – serves as a recordkeeping and documentation tool, allowing auditors to record observations, findings, and evidence during the audit
- Risk Identification and Prioritization – enables auditors to prioritize findings and allocate resources for remediation based on their severity and potential impact on the organization’s security
- Continuous Improvement – provides a basis for ongoing security improvements and helps track progress over time by comparing results from multiple audits
What to Include in a Security Audit Checklist
Organizations may have varying needs and requirements when it comes to establishing security systems depending on the industry they’re in and the type of data or information they must protect. Generally, though, security audit checklists should at least have the following elements and sections:
- Audit Title Page
- Access Controls
- Network Security
- Data Protection
- Physical Security
- Incident Response
- Employee Awareness and Training
- Electronic Security
- Information Security
- General Facility Impressions and Security Posture
- Visitors Vehicle Access
How to Create and Use One: 8 Steps
To guide you on how you can prepare and maximize a checklist for your security audits, here are some steps and tips you can consider:
- Clearly outline the scope of the security audit, specifying the systems, networks, processes, and locations to be assessed. Identify the applicable security standards, regulations, and best practices that will be used as a reference.
- Create a comprehensive checklist based on the selected relevant standards. Include specific items to review categorized in sections, actions to take, and evidence to collect during the audit process.
- Determine who will be responsible for conducting the audit and using the checklist. Assign roles and responsibilities to ensure the audit is performed effectively. This may involve internal audit teams, third-party auditors, or a dedicated security team.
- Evaluate the organization’s security controls, policies, and procedures against the checklist. Identify gaps or areas of non-compliance and gather information through interviews, document reviews, and system inspections.
- Prioritize checklist items based on their importance and relevance to your organization’s security posture. Focus on critical controls and areas of higher risk and consider assigning weights or levels of severity to prioritize findings.
- Create remediation plans to address the identified issues. Assign responsibilities, set timelines, and establish action plans for resolving the vulnerabilities and implementing necessary security improvements.
- Prepare a comprehensive audit report to summarize the results and communicate them to the management, stakeholders, and relevant teams.
- Monitor and review the progress of remediation efforts by tracking the implementation of security measures and evaluating their effectiveness through regular audits.
FAQs About Security Audit Checklists
Organizations can follow unique steps and processes when conducting a security audit based on their industry standards, goals, and requirements. Commonly, its phases or stages include the following:
- Information Gathering
- Risk Assessment
- Audit Execution
- Findings and Analysis
- Remediation and Follow-up
- Continuous Improvement and Monitoring
In general, security audits should be conducted at least annually. However, organizations may choose to perform audits more frequently, such as quarterly or bi-annually. This decision may depend on various factors, including industry regulations, organizational risk tolerance, and the evolving threat landscape, that may warrant a security audit to be conducted more frequently or even earlier than scheduled.
Regardless of the frequency, continuous monitoring and regular vulnerability assessments should be implemented to complement periodic security audits and ensure ongoing security effectiveness.
The ISO standard for security audits is ISO 27001, which provides a framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an Information Security Management System (ISMS). It sets out the criteria for assessing the organization’s security risks, implementing appropriate security controls, and ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information assets, among others.
Carry Out In-Depth Security Audits with SafetyCulture
Why use SafetyCulture?
Luckily, streamlining your process of conducting security audits is more than possible with the help of technology—through apps and platforms built for improving the safety and security of workplaces.
SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor), an operations platform, allows organizations to take charge of their security and implement stricter measures by doing the following using powerful features and functionalities:
- Download checklists and templates from the Public Library that you can use in conducting security audits and risk assessments across various sites in your organization.
- Protect your most valuable assets to ensure efficient security systems using the Asset Management feature.
- Enable scheduling of audits to regularly check your security systems and controls in place.
- Identify security issues proactively and assign corrective actions for timely resolution.
- Capture and upload photos and other relevant file attachments to provide more context on security audit findings.
- Allow seamless connections between the SafetyCulture app and your other security software and tools using the Integrations feature.
- Maximize the Analytics dashboard to gain insights into security trends and data in your organization.
- Generate in-depth security audit reports in various formats, including PDF, XLS, Word, or weblink, and store them on SafetyCulture’s secure cloud.
- Create and deploy training not just for your dedicated security team but also for all employees to uphold data security at all times.
- Use Heads Up when disseminating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), security updates, and best practices across the organization.
Related Security Audit Checklists
Network Security Audit Checklist
Use this free network security audit checklist to assess the security and integrity of organizational networks proactively. IT managers and network security teams can maximize this digitized checklist to help uncover threats to network security protocols.
Facility Security Audit Checklist
Use this free facility security audit checklist to provide an overview of the physical security posture of the organization’s facilities. Conduct inspections on the facilities’ exterior and interior, alarm systems, and security processes.
Information Security Risk Assessment Checklist
Use this checklist to determine the current state of information security in your organization. Determine if an item is High, Medium, Low, or No Risk and assign actions for time-sensitive issues found during the assessment on organizational and company practices related to information security.
Cyber Security Checklist
Download this cyber security audit checklist to assess and record the status of cyber security controls within the organization. This checklist can be used by IT professionals to secure the workplace and prevent any threats that may take place and hinder operations.
ISO 27001 Checklist
This ISO 27001 checklist can be used to assess the organization's readiness for ISO 27001 certification. Help discover process gaps and review your organization's ISMS based on the ISO 27001:2013 standard by filling this checklist out.
IT Risk Assessment Template
Perform security risk and vulnerability assessments across internal IT technology and systems using this free IT risk assessment template. Be able to describe the purpose of the risk assessment being conducted and specify recommended controls.