Why and How to Become a Security Auditor

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The main function of a security auditor is to make sure that all computer systems within the organization are secure and effective along with their security components. After your conducted investigations, you should create a detailed technical report stating the effectiveness of the systems, analyze the current security status of these systems, and further add your suggestions for any recommended course of actions for improvement.

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There are a bunch of responsibilities that you should expect as a Security Auditor within the organization. The coming list attempts to give an overview of the most common responsibilities that you should expect for this job.

  • You are responsible for all the security audits within the organization in terms of scheduling them, executing them and further leading them with your team.
  • It is your role to assess the financial and information systems within the organization, the followed security controls and procedures taken for management purposes. You should always inspect these systems and suggest any applicable modifications.
  • You have to make sure that all the operation processes within the organization are effective, efficient, and most importantly compliant with security policies and related government regulations.
  • You should also conduct test for IT systems in the organization. Such tests should be focused on evaluating the risks associated with having them.
  • It is your responsibility as a security consultant to review the staff and interview them in order to get security risks and complications established for the organization.
  • You must always document all the audit processes undertaken for each computing environment in the organization and each computer application used there, as long as documenting the results which is always a recommended aspect.
  • You should evaluate the amount of exposure or risk that is associated with any control practices that are either not effective or missing.
  • You should always compare between the results that you get from the audit process with some defined criteria for the systems.
  • You should always evaluate how much the conclusions of the audit are relevant and accurate with respect to the audit evidence.
  • You are required to create both a technical written report to state all the findings of the audit as well as being able to verbally communicate these results.
  • You should then always build your recommendations according to the best practices in the field to improve the current situations of the systems of the organization.
  • In this regard, I want to mention that it is not just your responsibility to provide the organization with the most efficient solution, yet you should always talk to the management and make sure that there exists a compliance between these recommendations and the company procedures.
  • You should always be in a constant collaboration with all the IT departments to make sure that security compliance is improved, all the associated risks are managed, and that effectiveness is ensured in the process as well.
  • It is important to note that you will most probably need to travel a lot for the job purposes. This may be because you could become an independent security auditor.
  • However, you can still become a security auditor working with some other members of IT security teams.

Finally, a senior security auditor like Senior Security Architects may answer to C-level executives.

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At the beginning of your cybersecurity career, I would recommend that you take an entry level position such that you can gain the necessary knowledge and experience for the upcoming years. Some of these jobs are:

  • Security Administrator
  • Network Administrator
  • System Administrator

After getting sufficient base of knowledge in one of these jobs, you should take a step up into more specialized job. Some of these jobs are given in the following list.

  • Security Specialist
  • Security Analyst
  • Security Engineer
  • Security Consultant

It is okay for an auditor to remain in the technical position for all his career life. Nevertheless, some may consider transitioning into a managerial position on different career levels. Some of these managerial positions are:

  • Security Manager
  • IT Project Manager
  • Security Director
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
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There are some terminologies for the job of a Security Auditor. The following list gives some examples for such terminologies for the same job responsibilities or similar ones. However, a job terminology like IT Auditor for instance involves some other testing tasks that don’t have any relevance to cybersecurity.

  • Information Security Auditor
  • Information Systems Auditor
  • IT Auditor
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On average, an IT Auditor is expected to earn $67,278 per year according to PayScale. The minimum payment that you should expect to get from this job is around $46,027 per year while the maximum payment to expect is $102,274 per year. This definitely includes your base annual salary, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable.

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You should be having a bachelor’s degree and/or a master’s degree in Computer Science, Information Systems, Cyber Security or a related technical field. Furthermore, since this job involves so much of technical aspects, the technical background matters a lot from the perspective of employers and they want to see that their candidates received sufficient amount of security trainings and they have the appropriate certifications for the job functions.

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In most of the cases, companies want to see that their candidate for this position has completed from 3 to 6 years in the field of IT generally. They do not require a specific security experience beforehand though. However, if you consider a job as a Senior Security Auditor, then you should get experience of more than 5 years in the auditing field.

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Gaining experience in the tasks of auditing computer applications and information systems of varying complexity can be achieved at anytime and in any circumstances. There are some other technical skills that an employer would love to see in their potential Security Auditor. Such skills are given in the following list.

  • You should be fully aware of regulatory and industry data security standards such as FFIEC, HIPAA, PCI, NERC, SOX, NIST, EU/Safe Harbor and GLBA.
  • You should also be of great knowledge about frameworks like ISO 27001/27002, ITIL and COBIT.
  • It is definitely necessary that a security manager have comfort using both Windows and Unix like operating systems.
  • You should be comfortable dealing with such as MSSQL and ORACLE.
  • You should also have a solid knowledge when it comes to the most commonly used programming languages in the field such as C, C++, C#, Java and PHP.
  • You should know how to use and benefit from software programs used for data analysis such as ACL, IDEA, etc.
  • You should know how to use and benefit from auditing and network defense tools such as Fidelis, ArcSight, Niksun, Websense, ProofPoint, BlueCoat, etc.

You should be up to date with protocols used for intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems and firewalls.

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Well, I would say oral and communication skills are one of the most important skills for a security auditor to have. It is really crucial to be very clear in all the submitted reports about the audit results and any recommendations for the organization’s systems. In addition, having the willingness to travel between different sites where audits are conducted is another aspect that an employer want to see in his candidate. That is because this job will involve a plenty of travels between different sites.

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The most important certification is CISA because the job is related to auditing. Moreover, earning the CISSP certification is another important aspect. Some of the recommended certifications for this job are given in the following list.