Everything you need to know to protect your data
The rapid evolution of technology has enabled the innovative movement of money, securities, and commodities, as well as many other services through the simple click of a button. Medical, security, government, and financial records, for example, are now increasingly being stored in online repositories and transmitted via information technology (IT) infrastructure.
While IT offers tremendous benefits as technology advances, it also poses significant risks due to its increasing complexity. Businesses and governments must be vigilant and proactive in identifying, understanding, and managing potential risks as a result of these factors. One of the most important ways to accomplish this is through IT audits.
An IT audit is the examination and evaluation of a business’s IT infrastructure, applications, data use and management, policies, procedures, and operational processes in comparison to recognised or established standards or policies.
They are formal, documented processes that defines a business’s evaluation of its technology, including hardware, software, operations, and processes, to determine compliance with the business’s policies and procedures.
IT audits can be conducted in conjunction with other business-related audits, such as financial or accounting audits, or they can be conducted independently. The audits help to determine whether the business’s information technology controls, effectively protect its corporate assets, ensure data integrity, and are aligned with the entity’s business goals.
Objectives of IT audits
An IT audit evaluates a business’s computerised information system (CIS) to determine whether it produces timely, accurate, complete, and reliable information outputs, as well as to ensure data confidentiality, integrity, availability, reliability, and adherence to relevant legal and regulatory requirements. The objectives of an audit vary depending on its nature or category.
If you’re conducting an IT audit, your goals may include:
- Understanding how well management leverages the use of information technology to improve critical business processes.
- Appreciate the pervasive impact of IT on the business’s critical business processes, such as financial statement development, and the business risks associated with these processes.
- Recognising how the business use of IT for financial information planning, processing, storage, and communication affects internal control systems and the business’s overall consideration of inherent risks and their control.
- Identification and comprehension of the controls used by management to measure, manage, and control IT processes.
- Increasing the effectiveness of controls over IT processes that have a direct and significant impact on financial data processing.
In situations where an IT audit is involved in the performance audit, taking into account the role that IT plays in the audit helps to refine the audit’s objectives. If the performance audit focuses on IT, the goal will be to ensure that all aspects of the IT systems, including the necessary controls, are effectively enforced.
Alternatively, the performance audit could examine the efficiency and effectiveness of a business process in which case an IT audit is included because IT is deemed critical to the business’s ability to deliver its mandate. In such cases, the goal of IT audits is to provide assurance that the IT systems can be relied on to help deliver the services that allow the business to fulfill its mandate. After considering the impact that IT has on the business’s ability to deliver those services, the efficiency and effectiveness of those services are examined from a non-IT perspective.
Why should you consider IT audits for your business?
Businesses that use IT systems have goals and expectations for what they hope to accomplish with their IT investment. One of the motivations for implementing IT within businesses is the desire to gain business value through reduced costs, increased effectiveness, increased efficiency, and improved service delivery in order to meet these objectives.
The goals and objectives of management when leveraging technology to support the business’s business processes typically include improving confidentiality, integrity, availability, reliability, and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Underpinning these goals and objectives is the need to ensure that the business’s IT and the controls that support such technology assist the business in achieving its business objectives in an effective and efficient manner.
Consider the devastation that your company or business would face if its IT infrastructure was hacked or you lost all of your data. Losing data for a business can be extremely costly, but it can also prevent major disruptions. Do you have the right type of backup in place as a forward-thinking business or business to protect you from threats such as hacking and data loss? Contact PowerbITs for free IT audit advice to gain a better understanding of this.
How to deliver IT audits
The best way to ensure system reliability is to inspect them, measure their impact, and report on the findings, which is what IT audits are for. IT audits are becoming increasingly important in all businesses as the need for security, privacy, and confidentiality grows.
Businesses that conduct regular external IT audits for improved oversight of IT activities are thought to understand the importance of SMB’s risk mitigation. These businesses are known for taking their technology activities seriously and ensuring high-level oversight. Working with IT professionals is the best way to complete IT audits. Contact PowerbITs for education on how important it is to have security in place in your business’s IT infrastructure through audits.
The frequency and scope of IT audits
External IT reviews on a regular basis are generally regarded as best practices. It is recommended that an IT audit be performed at least once a year. The frequency of audits may need to be adjusted depending on the IT processes being audited.
An IT audit should cover all of your activities, particularly those related to your management system. IT should be subjected to external audits on a regular basis to assess efficiency, costs, service levels, risk profiles, and business alignment, according to best practices. This could take the form of a comprehensive IT audit or specific compliance audits of the IT infrastructure.
Regardless of the frequency and scope of your IT audits, scheduling them should be simple and straightforward. When you have your IT audit performed by those who understand IT, you will get the best results. PowerbITs can help you understand how audits will provide security to your business.
Who performs IT audits and how are they carried out?
General IT audits can be performed by IT professionals. Whatever the scope of the auditor who performs it, a well-documented set of rigid procedures and processes must be followed to ensure that all areas are covered and thoroughly reviewed. IT audits examine the processes, controls, and technology involved in the audit scope, guided by procedures and processes as well as accompanying checklists.
An IT professional will assess compliance with the business’s policies as well as current government regulations as part of the audit and identify risks from non-compliance. In addition, they assess inefficiencies in information technology systems, processes, and procedures and make recommendations to reduce risks and improve performance. The audit could be part of a larger business-wide audit or it could be limited to IT systems only. It can be broken down into smaller assessments that focus on specific systems or operations within the business.
Most IT audits are not standardised due to the complexity of IT systems. They are usually tailored to the needs of the business.
What are some of the best practices in IT audits?
No two businesses will have the same IT systems and issues. As previously stated, a one-size-fits-all IT audit approach will not work, which is why comparing the business’s IT systems and issues to the business’s policies, processes, procedures, and nature of a business helps tailor the IT audit to the business’s specific requirements.
Regardless, IT audits have a plethora of sub-components that best practice IT audits frequently incorporate into a business’s IT audits. These include a review of IT controls, disaster recovery and business continuity, data and information security, operational effectiveness and efficiency, financial reporting reliability, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Speak with one of PowerbITs‘ IT consultants for free professional advice on the best practices that are best suited to your business.