Cyberattacks, especially ransomware, are consistently all over the news, both nationally and internationally. The spike in coverage has caused businesses to re-evaluate their data integrity, data security, and internal controls, therefore taking a more serious approach to risk management. What about your own company? How do you know if you are at risk? Or what happens if you already were? Learn how to prepare for an IT audit, either voluntary or mandatory.
As the potential for massive breaches of data for even small businesses continues to grow, IT audits are becoming more frequent. This is especially prevalent in industries that collect and store personal information, financial institutions, and/or businesses that work with state or federal governmental entities. These internal audits seek to review information security and application control to ensure businesses are operating effectively and that there are no disruptive conditions present.
What is an IT audit?
An IT audit is a comprehensive examination and evaluation of an organization’s information technology infrastructure, policies, and operations. They are conducted on a mandatory or voluntary basis, depending on the circumstances.
When your business becomes subject to an information technology audit, you will need extensive preparation to ensure that the following are in place:
- security controls
- cybersecurity measures meet industry standards
You may be subject to FINRA, HIPPA, PCI DSS, Sarbanes Oxley, and/or DFARs regulations. Or, as a result of increased threats, new regulations are now appearing for businesses that previously do not have regulatory standards.
You may also choose to participate in an IT audit in order to provide assurance or advice on your information assets and information processing environment, as well as how to manage risks more effectively moving forward.
How To Plan For an IT Audit
Do you understand your IT environment and its risks? Are you able to pinpoint the resources required the protect your business from cyberattacks? Here are some elements of your IT that will be reviewed during an audit.
Understanding your IT environment flows from an understanding of the internal procedures and operations that are subject to the IT audit. Without this basic understanding, chances are that the audit work may be misdirected, which raises the risk of drawing unfavorable or incorrect conclusions. This requires a high-level review of all IT procedures focusing on security, including confidentiality, data integrity, and potential vulnerabilities.
- Do you have a backup solution including a disaster recovery plan?
- Are access controls enforced for entrance into the systems both internally and externally?
- Do you have a 24/7/365 cybersecurity monitoring system in place which acts as an alarm system for your network to stop a threat in its tracks before it does damage to your data?
Handling an IT audit on your own is a risky business. That’s why it’s best to work with an IT security and compliance service that has the knowledge and expertise to plan for an audit so it runs efficiently and effectively. Don’t run the risk of a failed audit which puts your business in jeopardy.
IT auditors typically apply a risk-based approach to the planning and performing of their work. They identify the most important risks as well as specific controls to mitigate those risks. While planning for the IT audit, you can get ahead of what the auditor is looking for and implement those measures that will ensure a successful audit in advance. That’s where we come in. Doing this alone, even if you have an in-house IT staff, may leave you with a list of risks and not much time to correct them before your business could lose important clients or customers.
Using an IT Auditor
Hire an IT audit specialist to either plan for and execute the audit, or augment your internal IT team for a well thought out plan and seamless audit.
The IT auditor will request evidence in advance to determine whether your policies and controls are designed and operating effectively. This may come in the form of a questionnaire or a phone interview. Based upon the questions asked, with the assistance of an IT audit service like CMIT, you will know in advance where vulnerabilities lie and have the opportunity to correct (or at least start the process of correcting) weaknesses before the actual physical audit occurs.
Manage Your Risk Now
Businesses are now seeing an increased awareness that risks need to be managed. They cannot sit idly by believing that the attacks on other businesses will not happen to them. Even if you aren’t faced with an outside IT audit, it still makes sense to make sure you are secure, and your data is protected. If your data is stolen, compromised, or corrupted, can you still run your business? The answer to that question is almost always a resounding no.
Learn more about our IT audit preparation process and how we can assist you in either a mandatory or voluntary IT audit. Don’t wait to be a victim. Contact us for a free assessment and let us act as your expert so you don’t lose business as a result of a failed audit.