How startups should handle infosec audits by enterprise customers

SecOps Solution
5 min readMay 2, 2023

This infosec audits checklist is mostly given by enterprise customers or a particular regulatory framework to find out the security level of your product and whether it is safe to trust your application for the company’s valuable data. It is a mandatory process that must be followed before deploying any application into their environment. And if your product doesn’t meet that particular security level then the contract between you and the customer may get canceled.

That’s why startups should focus on compliance first, which makes it logical. The global growth of any business into regulated markets and the entry of that business into new areas like finance or healthcare are both significantly impacted by compliance. In many ways, attaining compliance is therefore a component of a startup’s go-to-market toolkit. Startups are, in fact, aligning themselves with the expectations of their customers because enterprise purchasers demand that they check the compliance box before accepting them as a customer.

Follow a Compliance and Regulatory Framework

As a startup it’s not important to follow a regulatory framework but it will definitely help you to maintain standards for your security. Your product must fulfill the checklist provided by the customer and that will be enough for you to clear their infosec audit but it is always preferable to follow a framework.

As a startup, we would suggest you follow ISO 27001 framework which will give your customers a surety that your company has a proper information security management system.

Here, are some of the most common and important regulatory frameworks that as a startup you must be aware of and later in the future you can think of applying:

  1. Framework: ISO (International Organization for Standardization)

Requirements: An widely regarded, voluntary framework for protecting information and enhancing information security management systems across industries, including compliance certification from an impartial third party.

Types of organizations leverage this framework: This framework can be used by any business, public or commercial, to enhance quality management and security and to report on it.

2. Framework: SOC 2 (Service Organization Control 2)

Requirements: A voluntary standard for data security and privacy from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) for SaaS providers and other businesses, with compliance verified by an impartial third-party auditor

Types of organizations leverage this framework: Any technological service provider or SaaS business that manages or keeps client data, is subject to SOC 2.

3. Framework: PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)

Requirements: Information security standards required for organizations that handle payment card transactions

Types of organizations leverage this framework: Merchants, payment card-issuing banks, processors, developers, and other vendors.

4. Framework: NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology)

Requirements: A series of guidelines for ensuring sensitive data is kept secure. It makes sure that proper steps are taken to guard against cybersecurity threats, and has a plan in place for responding to events of a data breach.

Types of organizations leverage this framework: By major corporations and governmental organizations, it can be a useful framework for any organization interested in assessing and lowering cyber risk.

5. Framework: HIPAA/HITECH

Requirements: U.S. federal law requires healthcare professionals and their partners to protect protected health information (PHI)

Types of organizations leverage this framework: Anyone who is compiling, storing or processing personal health information (PHI), such as healthcare facilities, insurance providers, and hospitals.

Document all the activities

Prepare documentation regarding your business cybersecurity strategy and procedures that will be massively helpful for you as it will create an understanding of your organization’s overall structure and will help you to spot potential gaps in your security policies and procedures.

This documentation will help your auditor to get a clear view of your organization’s cybersecurity awareness.

Some documents to consider including are:

This documentation will ensure the traceability of all research, production, and testing processes, which is essential for complying with these laws. Auditors can evaluate the overall quality of business processes and the finished product through documentation.

You must also include some description of your encryption techniques, key management processes, analytics, and procedures for keeping the information in order to demonstrate to auditors that you adhere to compliance standards and to record your discoveries along the way.

Conduct an Internal Security audit

It will be great to perform an internal security audit of your product which gives your business a proactive way to strengthen its security posture and keep track of any emerging or new threats. An internal audit can assist you in determining whether your present security approach is successfully defending your company and its clients.

This internal security audit will give the status of your software and you will be able to understand what level of vulnerability is present in your system and how secure your system actually is. You can use this assessment report to improve your application so that it can clear the standards of your customers.

So it’s better suggested to perform a scan on your system beforehand to understand your software security level and that will also help you to fill the potential gaps on time.

Following tests you can perform to examine your internal infrastructure:

  • Web Application tests
  • Vulnerability scans
  • Local network vulnerability scans
  • Penetration tests

Create a Diagram of your Network Assets

Giving your auditor a network diagram can help them save time and get a head start on their cybersecurity examination. Identifying possibly unknown assets on your company network is one of the objectives of any audit, but it can also help them save time. A network diagram essentially depicts the entire organization of your network, including the assets that are there, the connections that connect them, and the security measures that are in place between them.

This diagram will help them to understand your basic network structure and they will get an idea of what your network security posture looks like.

Review your information security policy

It’s likely that an auditor will want to examine your information security policy. So, make sure that you have a security policy that provides information about how you handle the sensitive data, what measures you take to protect data, and also outlines the duties employees within the business have when managing that data.

Your whole information security policy must be focused on the confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability of the data and how your organization is providing that level of security to safeguard it.