What are the different types of IT security audits there?

Cybersecurity Ventures, a cybersecurity firm, estimated global cybercrime could cost companies an astonishing USD 10.5 trillion annually by 2025. With this figure, which is greater than the world’s 3rd largest economy, organizations in every industry are worried and hence shifting their focus on improving their IT and cybersecurity posture. To ensure they don’t succumb to a mean cyber attack or a breach, more and more organizations are opting for IT security audits and penetration tests.

An IT security audit is a systematic assessment of the organization’s IT security practices both physical and non-physical to ensure that they are protected and working smoothly. Essentially, security audits help to make sure that your organization’s system is devoid of any vulnerabilities and is secure from cyberattacks. However, a timed and regular security audit can also keep you out of legal complications as well. For instance, IT security audits might reveal compliance issues that can lead to a penalty. So that you can take required steps on time and save lots of money, that would have gone otherwise in resolving these issues.

But, in order to choose the right IT security audit tests as per your organization’s needs, you need to first understand what types of IT security audits are there and how different they are from one another.

To start with, there are four types of IT security audits:

  1. Risk Assessment
  2. Vulnerability Assessment
  3. Penetration Test, and
  4. Compliance Audit

Now, let’s explore these audit types in detail and figure out which tests suit your business the best.

Four Types Of IT Security Audits

Different IT security audits have different purposes. Some audits evaluate compliance with respective laws and regulations. Others are specifically used to find out the potential security issues in your IT infrastructure. Some deal with exploiting vulnerable points in your website to test your current security system and so on. The four IT security audits that can help your business run in mint condition are discussed below:


Risk assessment is the process that helps in determining and estimating the risk to assets prone to cyberattacks. This also involves identifying the best ways to mitigate those risks and hence safeguard your company’s mission. A regular risk assessment measures the overall security posture of the organization and cuts non-essential security spending. Not only that they can help fulfillcompliance requirements and industry frameworks in heavily-regulated industries.


As per Wikipedia:

“A vulnerability assessment is the process of identifying, quantifying, and prioritizing (or ranking) the vulnerabilities in a system.”

A vulnerability assessment helps in discovering the security flaws in your organization’s information systems. During the vulnerability assessment, the IT team or security expert examines and identifies weaknesses in the systems that can be exploited. You can use vulnerability software such as Nessus to achieve this. The assessment may be conducted from inside the network, or remotely depending upon the requirement.


A penetration test (a pen test, pentest, or ethical hacking) is a simulation of a cyberattack that is performed to assess the security of information systems. This helps in identifying the actual security loopholes that can be exploited by malicious actors. Penetration testers or ethical hackers keep up with the latest hacking methods and use them to break into your network and get full control of the systems.

There are different approaches to perform penetration testing. These approaches depend upon the level of information provided to the tester. These approaches include:

  • Black Box (external penetration testing)- During the black box pentesting, the company provides negligible to no information about the target to pentester. Moreover, the pentester acts like an uninformed malicious hacker.
  • White Box (internal penetration testing) – During white box pentesting,  the company provides the pentester with access to target machines including the source code and environment along with the full knowledge transfer.
  • Grey Box – During a grey box pentesting, the company provides partial information about the target to the pentester.


A compliance audit is a process to assess and find out if your company complies with regulatory guidelines or not. The goal of the compliance audit is to make sure that the company is not jeopardizing its customer’s data or business by not following the required regulations. A non-compliant company is susceptible to severe penalties and that might lead to losing clients. Most common compliance audit includes:

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard or PCI-DSS
  • System and Organization Controls or SOC 2
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 or SOX
  • General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR

Summing Up

This article gives you an overview of the different types of IT security audits and their importance. To shield your business from cyberattacks and heavy fines, you should perform IT security audits regularly. Since performing an audit can be a complex task, therefore it is always best to hire professional security auditing firms like Astra Security for comprehensive results.

Moreover, Astra can help you to accomplish a robust IT security audit with more than a thousand security tests. Also, the flexible pricing allows everyone to choose something. Support from Astra’s professionals ensures that all confusion related to security audits is cleared regardless of the plan you choose. Check more about Astra’s Penetration Testing pricing here.