How Comprehensive Should an IT Audit Be?

IT audit process of a business

Most companies dislike the idea of an information technology audit because it seems like someone is telling them how to handle IT affairs, especially when an independent party performs the audit.

However, you need to look beyond that perspective and see the bigger picture. Cyber attacks such as malware and phishing continue to evolve each year, and businesses with no managed backup and disaster recovery planning are among the most vulnerable. You can limit an IT audit’s scope to target only specific areas and personnel to minimize the auditor’s tasks on their checklist, but the audit’s coverage should check your contingency plans in case of data loss.

What Defines an Audit Failure?

An audit failure for IT systems often happens when a report contains false or erroneous information. The likelihood of auditing oversights increases as the scope becomes too broad, so it makes sense to limit the coverage of each audit. As an example, an audit report may state that you implement data loss prevention software for the OS and other critical applications despite the company not having such tools.

Other negative findings include having no penetration testing, updated IT patches, and no two-factor authentication for remote access. Ethical hacking may involve automatic or manual tests. You should consider this task each time you introduce a new tool or software into your network architecture. Audits must also review how your managed backup and disaster recovery procedure performs under a stress test.

A report without any findings on contingency plans for data loss becomes another audit failure. The solution for this will require you to set up a group exclusively for IT security tasks. If that’s not possible, you can outsource it to a SaaS (Software as a Service) or ITaaS (IT as a Service) provider. Some companies may even train your IT employees and educate them on the usual audit tasks.

Maximizing the Audit

Laptop with cloud computing symbol

When your staff becomes familiar with how an audit works, it will be easier to maximize the efficiency of an audit. It can also improve business workflow since employees can assess system architecture ahead of an audit or even just on a regular workday. These people can work alongside external auditors, who usually know the latest trends and tools in the IT industry.

The main issue, however, involves the cost of an independent audit. You can save money by knowing if other companies in your line of business need an audit, so ask the auditing firm if they provide a group discount. You should schedule an audit at least once every year even if you run a small company, while larger businesses may need more frequent assessments due to their bigger risk to exposure from external and internal threats. Don’t forget to ask for advice from a lawyer before you implement an auditor’s recommendations.

An IT audit becomes overly encroaching when it covers irrelevant subjects such as reviewing an entry-level IT employee’s daily work. Ask the auditor about their chosen framework to determine the coverage of an assessment.

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