Protect Your University’s Data with This 8-Step Network Security Audit Checklist

University students studying on their laptop showing the importance of a network security audit

The education sector consistently ranks at the top of industries most vulnerable to cyberattacks, alongside finance and healthcare. It can be difficult to find the funding and resources to adequately protect your university’s network from cyberattacks. But it’s your responsibility to protect the data of your students and employees.

Data breaches are a violation of FERPA, which can cause the U.S. Department of Education to pull funding from your institution. It’s in everyone’s best interest that you do all you can to protect your data. Fortunately, a network security audit can be a powerful tool to improve your security and keep your university’s data secure.

What Is a Network Security Audit?

When you participate in a network security audit, you’re finding your weaknesses before a hacker has the opportunity to exploit them. By partnering with an IT provider that specializes in Network Security, you’ll examine the infrastructure, policies, and procedures of your network.


The goal is to identify any areas that may be vulnerable to attacks or malicious activities. It involves assessing the overall security posture of the network and analyzing its ability to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber threats.


A network security audit will also provide precautionary measures, or tools, that can be taken to protect the data and prevent future attacks. By auditing your network, you access a comprehensive understanding of the security posture of your university.


You’ll find weaknesses before someone else can, improve your risk management and response ability, as well as get a better understanding of the cost associated with security breaches. In the end, it keeps you and your students safe and your data secure.

8 Steps of a Network Security Audit

A security audit is meant to be comprehensive. Finding your vulnerabilities is crucial to strengthening your institution’s security posture. You can expect the following in an audit:

1. Scope of Audit 

First, you’ll need to determine what needs to be included in the audit. What systems are getting examined, how far back will you go into the data? You can consult with your in-house team and IT provider to decide what the audit should cover.

2. Determine Threats

You’ll need to know what threats your university is vulnerable to. This can include malicious code, malware, or social engineering attacks. 

For instance, the education sector saw a 44% increase in cyberattacks from 2021 to 2022, especially from ransomware. Identify your biggest threats and test your systems and networks for those first.

3. Review/Update Policies

A network security audit requires you to take a closer look at any existing policies and procedures related to the security of your network. This can include access control, data encryption, password protection, and more. 

All policies must be up-to-date, and written in clear language, so they can be understood by everyone on campus.

4. Penetration Testing

Once the policies and procedures have been identified and updated, penetration testing can begin. 

Also known as “ethical hacking,” this type of testing mimics what a hacker would do to gain access into your systems. This test is designed to identify areas where a hacker could break in and locate any potential security vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.

5. Set Up Log Monitoring

Log monitoring will help you identify any suspicious activity or attempts to access your network. It’s especially helpful when there is an increase in the volume of traffic on a server or system, which may be indicative of a hacker attempting to gain access.

6. Inspect Servers

All of your servers and systems should be inspected for their security protocols and configurations. This includes checking firewalls, antivirus programs, and any other software running on those systems.

7. Safe Internet Access 

You’ll want to make sure that your network is properly configured so that it can access the internet safely. Make sure any external websites or servers are secured with encryption and have appropriate firewalls in place to prevent malicious activity.

8. Perform Regular Network Security Audits

Once the initial audit is complete, it’s important to perform regular network security audits. Regular audits will help you be prepared to keep any threats at bay and keep you compliance according to regulations like FERPA.

Should You Hire a Third Party for Your Audit?

You’ll get the best results from your audit if you hire a third party. They have the experience and expertise to identify any potential weaknesses in your systems and provide recommendations on how best to improve your overall security posture.

You’ll also get an unbiased assessment of the current state of your network, which can help you make better decisions when it comes to your cybersecurity and risk management strategies.

Ultimately, a network security audit is an essential part of keeping any data safe. It will help you identify weaknesses before they can be exploited, give you the tools needed to protect against malicious attacks, and provide peace of mind that your university’s information is secure.

Protect Your Students with the Help of ANC Group

After more than 20 years in the education sector, ANC Group knows the challenges your institution faces. It can be hard for everyone to get on board with a new policy or procedure, but our experienced team can provide the guidance you need to create an effective network security audit.

Every university has specific IT needs, so we work with you to fit your priorities and budget. We’re here to help you protect your students and faculty from cyber threats and secure your data. 

Schedule a call with us today for more information about how a network security audit can help your university.