Did you know that organizations experience an average of 130 security breaches annually? These statistics are quite frightening, especially considering that IT infrastructures are extremely advanced.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to better secure your business against these attacks. One way of doing this is by conducting an IT audit.
Audits in general do sound scary and are often unwanted, even when you’ve done nothing wrong. But IT audits ensure that your infrastructure is up to spec, ensuring limited risk and proper functioning.
This complete guide on IT Audits makes the entire process simple and easy to understand. So, let’s jump right in.
What Is an IT Audit?
The first step in making the process simple is understanding what an IT audit is.
IT audits are also known as Information System audits. They examine a business’s or organization’s entire IT department, including their policies, procedures, and the infrastructure as a whole.
IT audits have been around for quite some time. Since the 1950s, in fact. But, as technology has evolved, so has IT auditing.
Today, an organization’s data is one of its most valued assets, and IT audits aim to protect it. They ensure that the entire IT department is properly managed and secured, often highlighting major issues and security loopholes.
A common and dangerous loophole is “shadow IT.” Shadow IT is the use of unapproved tools, services, and applications.
To ensure the correct functioning of an IT department, IT audits have several objectives. These also ensure aid in structuring an audit, so no rock is left unturned.
Highlighting Inefficiencies in IT Systems and Management
Even small business owners know that inefficiency leads to low productivity, which can reduce growth. IT audits aim to highlight any information systems that aren’t doing well. They also showcase the reasons why these systems are so inefficient.
By doing so, IT audits also make sure that all management systems follow data protection regulations.
Evaluating Security Systems and Processes
As mentioned, IT audits aim to protect a business’s data. They do this by evaluating all security processes and systems. It ensures that they’re effective, sufficient, and follow the necessary protocols.
As a result, another objective of IT audits is uncovering any risks to a business’s information assets. This involves analyzing the IT environment, along with the systems and processes.
It also involves evaluating the IT network and IT equipment, to make sure the information assets are stored and managed properly. If needed, an audit could go as far as exploring and developing ways to limit risks.
IT Audit Controls
There are two types of IT audit controls, IT General Controls (ITGC) and IT Application Control (ITAC). Both controls maintain integrity and uphold confidentiality.
IT General Controls
ITGCs ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the organization’s data. They evaluate the IT department’s applications, databases, and support.
Some controls include:
- Operational controls
- Administrative controls
- Design and security policies and procedures
IT Application Controls
ITACs deal specifically with an IT department’s security measures. They analyze whether these measures are sufficient in preventing unauthorized applications from breaching security systems.
They also evaluate the IPO (input processing and output) of every approved application. All so they can make sure:
- All desired tasks are processed and completed successfully
- All processing expectations are met
- Data management is properly maintained
- All data is accurate, valid, and up to date
Types of IT Audits
IT audits cover several aspects of an IT department. Thanks to this, there are several types of IT Audits, all focusing on different aspects of an IT department. Remember, an audit can be issued by external and internal authorities.
Systems and Applications
As the name suggests, this type of IT audit focuses on an organization’s systems and applications. It determines whether or not these applications and systems are appropriate and reliable.
It also verifies their efficiency, reliability, and whether they’re up to date or not. These audits also take it one step further and evaluate how secure these applications and systems are.
Information Processing Facilities
This type of audit focuses on all IT equipment and operating systems, along with the overall IT infrastructure. They test the processes of an IT department, to ensure they’re working efficiently, quickly, and accurately.
These audits often stress test these facilities too, to make sure that no matter the situation, everything remains secure.
Systems development audits are usually reserved for newly developed or underdeveloped systems. They ensure that these systems meet required standards. These audits also evaluate the system, ensuring it aligns with the organization’s overall objectives.
Management of IT and Enterprise Architecture
This IT auditing process looks into a department’s management structure and enterprise architecture. It determines whether the management structure is efficient and if they’ve implemented the correct procedures. These procedures should be secured and have the ability to control information processing.
These types of audits also determine if the enterprise’s architecture, along with the tools it uses, follows best practices and frameworks.
It ultimately ensures that all information processing, from management to tools used, is controlled and efficient.
Client/Server, Telecommunication, Intranet, and Extranet
As is clear from the name, this kind of IT audit is about communication and connection. It looks into the company’s telecommunication controls and evaluates how well they’re working.
It determines if there is proper communication between the server and client by testing the network connection between them.
Preparing an IT Audit
IT audits aren’t always easy tasks. They evaluate several aspects of your business and IT department. But the best way to simplify something is to prepare for one. By preparing, you ensure the audit runs smoothly, so nothing is accidentally overlooked.
When prepping for an IT audit, it’s also important to be prepared for anything. Audits are grueling and sometimes you might not like the outcome.
Notify The Necessary Parties
The very first step is to notify all external and internal partners that an IT audit is on the cards. All stakeholders and members of management and support need to be made aware of any upcoming audits too.
From there, every team member needs to be prepared to hand over any document needed by auditors.
Make Everything Accessible
Along with creating an IT asset inventory, it’s important to keep a list of credentials handy. Auditors may need access to both software and hardware during their audit.
Speaking of access, auditors won’t only be assessing software and some IT equipment. So, they’ll need physical access to various parts of your building too.
Get A Document Checklist
The next step is to request a document checklist from your auditor before the audit. They’ll normally ask for several documents and having them on hand makes the process just a touch faster.
These documents often include contracts with external service providers and vendors. An example of an external service provider is a company that offers Office 365 consulting.
Purchase and warranty slips for all your infrastructure should also be included. Knowing the age of your hardware will come in handy during the auditing process.
Along with all this, you’ll also need to gather all your written IT policies and procedures. Having both a hard copy and soft copy will save you and your auditor a lot of headaches during the audit.
That’s not all though. Other critical documentation includes having a written information security plan and a list of controls and safeguards.
You should also include any findings from previous audits in this document pack. This allows you to prove that, if necessary, changes were made.
Organize Your Financial Statements
If you’re running an audit, chances are you’re looking to cut some costs. If that’s the case, organize all your financial statements covering the cost of your IT setup.
This allows auditors the ability to advise where you can begin reducing costs.
Conduct Gap and Self Assessments
No matter how hard you try, no system is 100% foolproof. But conducting self and gap assessments regularly can help limit any issues. It also helps you understand your apps, systems, and procedures better.
This also ensures your systems are up to scratch by the time an audit rolls around.
Running tests and deliverables further ensures you’ll have those ready and handy for your auditor. Scheduling tests for after your audit doesn’t look good and should be avoided.
The Auditing Process
Now that you’ve got all your ducks in a row, it’s time for the auditing process. There are five steps, all of which are made simple by preparing for the audit.
- Studying and Evaluation
- Testing and Assessment
- Reporting and Documenting Results
IT Audits Made Simple
IT audits are a critical part of any business or organization with an IT department. They protect your data assets and ensure your IT security is up to spec to avoid any data breaches.
With this guide, your next IT audit will be simple and worry-free.
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