When IT leaders think of an audit, they often focus solely on analysing physical equipment housed on-prem. But in the dynamic world of cloud computing, regular monitoring and maintenance of digital infrastructure is equally paramount — ensuring your entire tech estate is secure, compliant, and operating at peak efficiency, no matter where it’s located.
But what does it take to conduct a truly robust cloud audit? Lee Thatcher, intelligent cloud practice lead at CloudCoCo, explores…
A cloud audit is a thorough evaluation of a company's cloud infrastructure, security measures, compliance adherence, and operational efficiency. As with an examination of a firm’s physical kit, it assesses the performance and effectiveness of the overall cloud environment, and often makes up part of a wider IT auditing exercise.
This is essential for several reasons. It:
A comprehensive cloud audit covers various components that will differ from one firm to the next. But loosely, this includes examining the entire cloud infrastructure, ensuring security and compliance measures are in place, reviewing licensing, specifications, software, third-party applications, vendors, and even user endpoints.
A thorough cloud audit begins with a detailed examination of a firm’s entire online tech stack. This includes assessing the architecture, network configuration, storage systems, and virtual machines. Understanding the overall layout and interdependencies of a cloud environment is essential for identifying vulnerabilities, optimising performance, and ensuring compliance.
Security and compliance should be at the forefront of any monitoring and maintenance strategy. As well as analysing the effectiveness of security controls — such as firewalls, encryption, access management, and intrusion detection systems — it’s important to verify compliance with relevant industry standards and regulations. Identify any gaps in security measures and implement necessary remediation actions as soon as possible.
Cloud environments often involve a multitude of software licences and subscriptions — from Server OS to User Cals and more. An audit should verify that all of these are properly licensed and up to date, including third-party applications, operating systems, and custom-developed software. Effective licence management not only ensures compliance but also helps optimise costs by eliminating unnecessary or redundant expenditure.
Assessing the performance and scalability of your cloud infrastructure is crucial for maintaining optimal operations. Monitor resource utilisation, response times, and throughput to identify potential bottlenecks or performance issues. Analyse the scalability of your infrastructure to ensure it can handle increased workloads and accommodate future growth without compromising performance.
If your cloud environment relies on third-party vendors or service providers, it's important to review their security practices and compliance measures. Evaluate their certifications, audit reports, and data protection policies, to ensure they align with your organisation's requirements. Verify that service level agreements (SLAs) are being met and assess their incident response and disaster recovery capabilities.
User endpoints, such as laptops, desktops, and mobile devices, represent potential entry points for security breaches. Include an assessment of endpoint security measures in your cloud audit. This involves verifying that antivirus software, firewalls, and encryption are properly deployed and regularly updated. Educate users on best security practices and enforce policies such as multi-factor authentication and secure remote access.
Cloud environments are dynamic, constantly evolving with updates, changes, and new deployments. Regular audits are therefore essential to stay ahead of security threats, maintain compliance, and safeguard business continuity. The frequency of audits may vary depending on the size and complexity of your organisation. While endpoints can be audited every three years, physical infrastructure and security should be assessed at least every three months. A holistic audit of the entire cloud environment can be performed annually.
If any unsatisfactory issues are uncovered in an evaluation, a firm may work with their MSP or auditor to rectify these, and redraft the resulting documentation approx 12 months down the line. This subsequent audit helps assess the effectiveness of the implemented changes, verify ongoing compliance, and identify any new concerns that may have emerged over time.
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