What is an IT Audit
As technology progresses companies from all industries are becoming more and more financially invested in their IT ecosystem. We rely on it every day for just about every business function you could think of. It makes sense then that our time, energy and capital goes into ensuring our IT doesn’t let us down.
It also makes sense that we regularly inspect our information technology infrastructure and processes in order to evaluate its security and effectiveness. This is to ensure its operating as intended, keeping data safe, and staying aligned with the overall objectives of the company. This inspection is known as an IT audit, and it’s optimal for a business to perform one every year. Often this is in done in conjunction with the end of the financial year, when financial statements produced can provide insight into the effectiveness of the investment into IT.
IT Audit Categories
A well-executed information technology audit is centred around an appreciation of the relevant industry environment, an understanding of the inherent risks and a knowledge of the resources required to fulfil the IT obligations. An audit plan is essential, which ideally should incorporate the following five categories:
1. Systems and applications: All equipment, systems and processes are examined to ensure they’re operating as intended and their security isn’t compromised in any way.
2. Process Verification: Are all processes working correctly? Are they timely and accurate and able to withstand disruptive conditions?
3. Systems Development: Are any systems being developed done so in accordance with the IT standards already put in place by the organisation?
4. IT Management: Is the management hierarchy for IT structured appropriately? Do the procedures in place ensure a controlled and efficient environment?
5. Telecommunications: Communications are the backbone of modern businesses, so it’s essential your networks and servers are protected against any kind of security breach.
Why Do You Need an IT Audit?
The term ‘IT audit’ has been known to inject some nerves into the IT departments of companies around Brisbane. They imagine their processes getting messed with, their structures realigned and so on. That might just happen too, if their processes and structures are found to be ineffective. But that’s the beauty of an audit: it establishes where your IT ecosystem is lacking and exactly what effects this is having on your operational efficiency. Improvements and refinements can then be made.
Here are a few reasons why you should conduct regular IT audits:
Businesses are spending larger portions of their budgets every year on IT, which makes them more vulnerable to cybercrime. An information technology audit verifies that your cybersecurity is able to withstand hackers and keep your company and client data safe and protect your organization’s information. It determines potential risks to your physical and digital technology assets, and ensures your systems and processes are secure. Risk minimisation procedures can then be implemented.
There are numerous IT-specific standards and regulations that need to be met. An IT audit will determine your compliance with all of them, and what is required if you aren’t.
By closely examining all your IT processes and information systems, you’ll get an understanding of which areas of your systems and management are proving inefficient.
While there will be costs associated with an IT audit, they’re much easier to handle than the multiple costs that could occur if you have a cyber security breach, or persist for many years with inefficient processes. It’s a budgeting win.
Stay up to Date:
Technology is surging forward at an impressive rate. A regular IT audit will pinpoint which areas of your technology ecosystem and information systems and applications need to be updated in order to maximise time and financial returns.
Protect Your Reputation:
A data breach, an IT failure or a meltdown of your IT infrastructure could lead to significant reputation damage amongst clients and potential clients. An IT audit helps safeguard you against such events.
Brisbane IT Audit Objectives
If you’re a Brisbane company undertaking an IT audit, Ernst and Young’s list of key considerations for information technology audit planning will definitely be useful to help you achieve your audit goals and objectives. Some of the key takeaways from it include:
Is moving to the Cloud a viable option for your business?
Do you have existing policies in place regarding the cloud?
How is access and authentication implemented?
Managing IT Risk
Is the IT risk assessment process up-to-date and effective?
Are there governance processes in place for decisions regarding where capital is directed?
IT Asset Management
Is there a methodology in place to help manage IT assets, information assets and software?
Are software licensing costs a financial burden and is there any way they can be reduced?
Do you have a comprehensive IS strategy in place? One that trains and mobilises your entire team to reduce vulnerabilities, whilst implementing reporting controls and extensive monitoring?
What would your response time to intrusions be?
Data Loss Prevention and Privacy
How sensitive is the data that your organisation collects and stores? How is it stored? Does your company adhere to privacy regulations relevant to your industry?
External or Internal Audit?
Many companies choose to do their IT audits internally, which gives them complete control over the process. Another option is to get an external IT auditor in, who’ll have experience in analysing your physical security controls as well as your overall business and financial controls. External auditors will generally also make recommendations based on their results to your company and all its stakeholders.
Whether you go for an internal audit or get an external auditor in, remember IT management, particularly when it comes to security, is an ongoing process. An annual audit is a great way of ensuring you’re on the right track with your IT ecosystem and information systems. It ensures security, efficiency, and alignment with your overall company goals. It also ensures peace of mind, knowing that the controls you have in place are working to protect your data integrity and your digital assets.
If you’re looking for an IT audit in Brisbane, get in touch with Smile IT. We’re a Brisbane IT company and managed service provider who can help answer all your IT questions.
When he’s not writing tech articles or turning IT startups into established and consistent managed service providers, Peter Drummond can be found kitesurfing on the Gold Coast or hanging out with his family!