The use of computers and the internet has become quite prominent in businesses, organizations, and other aspects of daily life. The over-reliance on tech has only made it easier for cybercriminals to carry out attacks as they seek to capitalize on vulnerabilities in systems.
Cybersecurity threats are real, and the cybercriminals will continue to target businesses unless you have deterrent measures in place to prevent these attacks. Businesses are adapting to these cybersecurity threats by assessing their systems via IT audits. These audits help businesses evaluate their information systems, security measures, and check their vulnerability to threats.
How do you carry out these IT audits?
This is the first stage of an audit, and it involves the preliminary assessment of the IT infrastructure. It also involves information gathering as it's essential that you understand every process that needs auditing. Gather information about the organization, its operating environment, and the information systems that support the core functions.
The auditor needs to understand the IT systems and categorize these systems according to their impact on the business. For example, IT systems that are critical to the functioning of the business are labeled as Mission Critical Systems, while the rest are labeled as Support Systems.
The auditor will also examine the software and hardware used as it helps the auditor understand the risks involved.
2. Scope Of The It Audit
Once you’ve examined the entire organization and have a good understanding of their core functions, you can proceed to define the scope of your audit. Use the IT audit checklist to identify the areas that you need to cover in your audit.
3. Define Your Threats
What are the cybersecurity threats that your business is likely to face? Once you understand the risks that you face, you can audit your IT infrastructure to check whether you’re equipped to handle these risks.
Which systems are more vulnerable to threats? Your IT infrastructure could be under threat from anything ranging from negligent employees, DDos or DoS attacks, malware, BYOD, physical breach, phishing attacks, etc.
In the case of negligent or malicious employees, you can begin by auditing the systems and access to these systems. With unlimited access, your employees can leak sensitive data intentionally or unintentionally. You can also experience a power surge that could damage critical systems or corrupt data.
4. Asses Performance
You have an IT audit checklist and a list of cybersecurity threats; you can begin to assess your performance. And it's not just the performance of your cybersecurity measures against the threats; it's also the overall performance of your IT infrastructure. This will help you understand if your hardware, software, and cybersecurity measures are obsolete.
Since you want an effective audit that evaluates your organization without bias, an external IT auditor would be more effective. The auditor will evaluate your systems, networks, access, and your employees’ ability to follow the set guidelines. The auditor can observe the processes as well as the employee performance to identify areas that need improvement.
Another area of concern is the organization structure, standards, documentation, policies, and procedures. The auditor needs to review the IT organization structure. For example, who has access to software that can make changes to data files and who supervises these amendments? Since data is produced every day, who monitors how the data is used, reviewed, stored, etc.? You need to document how these processes work. The auditor will then review whether everything is done according to your documentation.
Does the IT department have a manual to detect threats or anomalies in the system? If yes, are these anomalies recorded, and does the department have mechanisms in place to prevent future anomalies?
5. Results And Recommendations
Once the audit is complete, the auditor needs to document the results. A report of the findings is also necessary to help the senior management understand the areas that need changes. The report will contain detailed findings, your opinion on the performance, the adequacy of controls, and potential risks. It will also have recommendations that can help improve their internal controls and reduce vulnerability.
For example, if the auditors identify that employees have unlimited access to data, they can recommend physical access controls. These controls would include intruder alarms, CCTV, and other security features such as biometric devices. In addition, only those authorized by the management have access to sensitive data and select computer systems.
Other recommendations include; capacity training, improved cybersecurity, network security policy, network documentation, data encryption, logical access controls, etc.
An IT audit is useless if the recommendations are not implemented. The auditor has identified the areas that are vulnerable and need improvements; it's up to you to decide whether the recommendations are worth implementing. You can perform a cost-benefit analysis of the recommendations. This will help highlight the cost of ignoring the recommendations.
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