Basics of an IT Audit

IT Audit

Information and technology plays a vital role in today’s business. However, there will always be risks associated with it. With an IT audit, the systems that enterprises have in place will be assessed in order to safeguard their information assets. Essentially, an IT audit will determine the availability, security, confidentiality, and integrity of an entity’s systems.

Similar to other types of audits, an IT audit examines- in contrast- organizational processes, procedures, competence and efficiency, or controls against a pre-outlined criterion.

Purview of an IT Audit

No matter what type of IT audit is conducted or what it is for, IT audits have the same characteristic;  to assess various IT elements and the controls identified with them. An IT audit covers technical and nontechnical backgrounds, hence diverse skills and abilities related to various audit practices and guidelines are needed. This is to ensure that the controls are addressed effectively. Physical, technical, and administrative controls, which include personnel, quality management, monitoring and assessment, data centers, hardware, network, etc., are assessed and evaluated during an IT audit process.

Internal Controls

The primary focus of an IT audit, either internal or external, is the enforced and maintained internal controls of an entity. According to Stephen Gantz’s ‘The Basics of IT Audit: Purposes, Processes, and Practical Information’, the core components of IT management are the controls. These controls are described and ascribed via guidelines, techniques, and frameworks related to business methodologies; IT governance; information systems; and information security.

Internal controls are components that are assessed or evaluated. Entities usually establish a considerable amount of controls designed to meet the control’s objectives.

Why Conduct an IT Audit?

There are various intentions and motives behind the reason why companies subject themselves to an IT audit. In general, the primary objective is for compliance. Other purposes of an IT audit include: to assess whether the implemented controls are working properly; to ascertain and verify the practices applied on systems engineering or IT project management; to compare the company’s performance versus quality standards or service level agreements; and to self-evaluate the company with respect to the guidelines or gauges that will be utilized in forthcoming external audit.

Who Conducts an IT audit?

Certain professionals and organizations that are allowed to perform an IT audit include internal auditors, IT auditors that perform internal or external IT audits, auditing firms, certification organizations, audit executives, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and individuals who have the certification to do it from relevant authorities.

Industries or Sectors Subject to an IT Audit

As mandated by the SEC and outlined in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, public entities are required to go through an IT audit. In addition, federal agencies, service organizations, beneficiaries of government funds, nonprofit organizations, and health care and financial institutions are compelled to have an IT audit. Authority to conduct an independent assessment of various facets of an entity.

IT Audit Process

An IT audit will commence with an evaluation of the current systems and processes an organization has in place by testing the controls including the firewalls, access logs, and password complexity rules. This is performed in order to protect the business’ information. The results of the test will then be used to determine the company’s risk levels in relation to the company’s assets. Like any other audit, an IT audit will find some areas that are at risk and it is the IT auditor’s job to determine whether or not the risk is at an acceptable level.

Technology has become a vital part of any business. When it comes to the information assets, it is the company’s responsibility to ensure that its IT systems are secure and efficient. An IT audit will help the entity achieve both of those goals.