IT auditors often have to spend quite a lot of time persuading businesses that organizing an audit of their IT department is valuable and worthwhile. Organization-wide audits often include an IT audit, but without a proper understanding of why it is useful, the effectiveness of an IT audit is not fully realized.
What Is an IT Audit?
IT audits can cover a variety of IT and communication functions and infrastructure. Common inclusions are server systems and client networks, operating systems, cybersecurity infrastructure, software, databases, communication networks and hardware, protocols and procedures, and disaster recovery policies and strategies.
An audit begins with researching and identifying the specific risks that your IT department faces, then exploring how effectively the controls and protocols you have in place to deal with these risks are working. The final phase of an audit is to test your risk management processes to ensure their effectiveness.
Why Is IT Auditing Necessary?
IT auditing is designed to stress-test your systems, networks, and processes, and ensure that they are running smoothly and effectively. It is designed to identify inaccuracies and inefficiencies in your IT and enable you to remove these from your organization. It can bring about significant improvements in performance, compliance, and financial management, as well as being able to discover potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
As such, an IT audit is vital for companies who wish to properly protect their IT systems. It can even be seen as a component of your business’s cybersecurity!
What Are the Benefits of an IT Audit?
Risk reduction is the most important and significant benefit of an IT audit. A successful audit of your company’s IT will identify and assess the risks your IT faces and make recommendations for actions that will be able to mitigate or address those risks.
IT audits cover a wide variety of organizational risks, including data security, confidentiality, infrastructure, and working processes. An audit may also be able to come to conclusions about how effective and reliable your IT is and how well and efficiently it is run.
Something to understand about an IT audit is that any IT risk is automatically an organizational risk as well. These days IT is critical and fundamental to the functioning of any business, and anything that puts the smooth functioning of your IT at risk is also a threat to the effective operation of your enterprise as a whole.
An IT audit gives you the ability to strengthen your internal controls and improve your external security, making your organization more secure and more resilient against internal and external threats and vulnerabilities.
An IT audit will often use something called a COBIT framework to assess and strengthen controls. COBIT consists of four domains that bring together a grand total of 32 control processes that are effective at mitigating risk in an organization. The audit uses the framework to better understand the existing controls and work out what can be best adjusted and implemented to improve organization controls overall.
Comply With Regulation
Regulatory compliance can be one of the most complex and difficult-to-manage elements of an IT department, particularly as there are a variety of regulations and regulatory bodies to consider. An IT audit is a vital part of the compliance process, ensuring that the requirements of these regulations are fully understood and met.
The channels of communication between an IT department and the rest of an organization are often not as effective as they should be, and one of the major positives of an IT audit is to open up these channels and facilitate better communication between IT and the wider business.
Auditors become an extra line of communication, delivering reports on the functions and processes of the IT department to management and communicating expectations and objectives from management to IT. This not only provides direct feedback both ways but can often open up channels that were hitherto unused or nonexistent and facilitate better communication and more effective working for the future.
IT governance comes under the remit of the executives and board of directors and is essentially designed to make sure that IT is working towards the ongoing strategic direction and stated objectives of an organization. By identifying and reducing risk and strengthening internal controls, an IT audit helps improve the governance of the IT department. An IT audit will often put into place recommendations or frameworks that make the governance of an organization’s IT easier and simpler to manage and will ensure it aligns more directly with the rest of the aims and objectives of the business.
Whatever type of organization you run, an IT audit can be an immensely powerful tool in protecting and strengthening the overall effectiveness of your business. An IT audit will have an impact on your enterprise from top to bottom and will ensure that you are able to take a more joined-up approach, integrating IT into everything you do as a business.