An IT audit is an important process whereby a professional audit team can assess each aspect of your internal controls, digital business processes and data integrity safeguards to evaluate whether your systems, networks and information processing facilities are suitable and scalable.
Modern businesses depend on IT systems for almost every function, and verifying whether those systems are working well and identifying weaknesses that require attention is just as essential as conducting financial audits at year-end.
Let’s look at the IT audit process, what to expect, and how to ensure your audit is aligned with your business objectives.
The Basics of an IT Audit
The primary objective of an IT audit is to assess your overarching IT environment. An experienced team of IT auditors can adapt their audit aims and planning to meet your requirements, whether you need an independent overview of your readiness for a business expansion or are looking for ways to boost automation and productivity.
Our audit team might be tasked with testing, assessing and reporting on:
- Data management processes to comply with sector-specific requirements or data protection legislation.
- IT infrastructure, encompassing hardware, software, broadband, telephony and systems integrations.
- Cybersecurity protection within your IT systems, such as access controls, risk management and security protocols.
- Adherence to IT-specific laws, particularly for businesses in the financial and insurance markets.
An IT audit is based on your objectives, so it can be designed to examine whether specific controls are operating effectively, as a cybersecurity risk assessment, or to verify whether you have the right policies to secure company data and commercially sensitive records.
What Do Information Technology Audits Involve?
Your assigned IT auditor, or team of auditors, will work closely with your IT department to create an audit of all the systems, software, devices, networks and connectivity used throughout your business processes and understand how these different elements fit together to manage the company’s information assets.
They will put together an audit scope based on your instructions and highlight any particular areas you’d like to review within your information technology systems – to evaluate whether there are improvements evaluable to augment productivity or reduce costs or to look at ways to control weaknesses that might relate to key corporate assets.
However, an IT audit isn’t solely related to management controls. It can also be an insightful exercise for businesses embarking on transitions and changes. For example, if you are planning to expand your company soon or launch your services in a new country, you may need assurance that the organisation’s information technology infrastructure has the capacity you require.
What Is the Benefit of an Information Technology Audit?
An IT audit provides you with a big-picture view of your existing systems, where audits assess all aspects of your internal IT procedures that are important to your company. The advantages for decision-makers and business owners include the following:
- Spotting inefficiencies, such as software duplications, non-secure IT systems, outdated networks and configurations that could be faster, more reliable or automated.
- Improving security controls by evaluating how well sensitive data is protected, how well access controls work, and how the business monitors activity.
- Enhanced data protection compliance, preventing data breaches from occurring and assessing opportunities to introduce more advanced safeguards.
- Stronger IT governance, where audits examine how senior leadership teams manage risk, allocate decision-making authority and disseminate resources across their organisations.
When your IT audit is complete, your auditors will produce a comprehensive audit report to explain their findings, setting out recommendations and suggestions for beneficial systems development projects or better ways to protect corporate assets from malicious activity.
The Stages of an IT Audit
Experienced IT auditors work to pre-defined plans, schedules and agreements, minimising any disruption to your IT department and ensuring they have all the information and access needed to provide a full internal audit report.
The first step is to consult with you about your expectations, set targets, identify the most pertinent risks, and discuss your long-term aspirations and plans within the relevant markets. As we’ve mentioned, our IT auditors will liaise with your teams, who can assist auditors by noting the systems or areas they’d most like to be reviewed.
Phase two is to map those requirements against your company’s risk profile, determining any legislation, regulations or conditions linked to your sector of the nature of your business.
From there, audit procedures kick in, where auditors will evaluate the information-related controls in place, alongside, potentially, the physical security controls around key spaces such as server rooms. They will assess business and financial controls, including:
- Access controls based on your organisational structure.
- Policies and procedures around usage of your IT systems.
- Security controls used to protect sensitive data.
IT audit tests and assessments can include simulations, what-if scenario evaluations, examinations of the stability and capacity of your systems, challenges to assess controls, and reviews to see whether the IT management systems in place offer adequate security and efficiency.
Once this work is completed, you will receive an audit report detailing the auditor’s findings, covering risks, vulnerabilities, areas for improvement and suggestions. Audit findings are set out in clear, concise language so you can make informed decisions about the best way forward.
Which Types of IT Audits Are Most Relevant to My Business?
We mentioned the different types of IT audits and how these should be aligned with the audit objectives of the business. Below, we’ve listed some of the most popular IT audit processes.
General Control Review IT Audits
General control reviews look at the full scope of business and financial controls to determine risks, identify better ways to protect corporate assets and evaluate the reliability and governance of IT systems.
IT audits focused on controls might test disaster recovery and data retrieval protocols, evaluate the suitability of access controls for protected areas, and determine whether network security approaches remain sufficient or need to be adjusted to cover new enterprise architecture.
Application Control Review Audits
A slightly different type of IT audit, an application audit evaluates how software apps used by the business – or offered as a customer resource – function. This audit checklist might cover password requirements, access to downloadable applications, the app’s design and features, and whether it has the right controls to keep data safe.
Information Technology Security and Compliance IT Audits
Many IT audits are based on security, with hacking attempts, spyware, and viruses being a prevalent concern for businesses. Companies hire an IT auditor to test their protocols, data protection policies, security software and emergency response strategies.
This IT systems audit is also an excellent way to determine whether the business complies with industry standards, data protection regulations, and specific requirements such as ISO accreditation standards.
For more information about any of these types of information technology audits, which may be most suited to your business, or to discuss the advantages of scheduling an IT audit, please contact the Maximum Networks team at any time.