IT management

What Is an IT Audit? A Definitive Guide to Safeguard Your Data

October 19, 2023

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The significance of technology in business is increasingly evident.

With its influence across all business processes like finance, time management, and workforce productivity, the need for technology is neverending. But with the rapid advances in this industry, protecting yourself from advanced security threats remains an ongoing challenge.

One of the ways organizations can invest in security is by understanding information technology audits, otherwise known as IT audits, that ensure your IT infrastructure is functional, competitive, and secure. 

Tools like audit management software can enhance the effectiveness of IT audits by streamlining tasks like audit planning, risk assessment, documentation, and reporting. 

By implementing IT audits, you can protect critical data and company networks from malignant attacks. After all, sometimes a data breach is all it takes to distinguish between a thriving company and the one that fails.

Why is IT audit important?

Since so many organizations are spending large amounts of money on information technology, they need to ensure that these IT systems are reliable, secure, and not vulnerable to cyber-attacks

An IT audit is crucial to any business because it maintains the integrity and reliability of an organization's information technology infrastructure and data. It overlooks functions like risk assessment, data integrity, compliance, security assessment, and aid to business continuity and disaster recovery. 

IT audit is also cost-effective in the sense that it will reveal exactly which services you need and which ones your company can do without. Plus, since the technology we use is evolving so fast, an IT audit can let you know which of your systems and tools are outdated.

An IT audit helps organizations to:

  • Identify and mitigate IT risks: IT audits help organizations identify and manage risks like cyberattacks, data breaches, and system failures. IT auditors recommend ways to mitigate such risks by implementing security controls and developing business continuity plans.
  • Ensure compliance with laws and regulations: Most industries are subject to laws and regulations that govern their IT systems and data management. With IT audits, organizations stay compliant with such requirements and prevent any legal actions.
  • Improve the efficiency of IT operations: IT audits help identify areas where IT operations can be improved through workflow automation. This results in cost savings and improvement in overall business performance.
  • Protect corporate assets: Organizations can protect their IT assets from unauthorized access, use, and destruction by using IT audits to identify the vulnerabilities they are exposed to. 
  • Ensure the integrity of data: IT audits also ensure that the organizational database is accurate, updated, and reliable. This helps support business decisions and also with regulation compliance.
  • Align IT with business goals and objectives: IT audits align IT systems and practices with business objectives. This accelerates the process for organizations to achieve their strategic goals.
  • Look out for shadow IT: Shadow IT creates gaps in security and presents risks to your company’s sensitive data, especially since it involves the use of apps that are not being monitored by security and IT departments. IT audit can identify these risks and mitigate them effectively.

In addition to these benefits, IT audits also improve the trust and confidence that stakeholders have in an organization. By showcasing what an organization is doing to protect its IT assets and manage its IT operations effectively, IT audits can attract and retain customers, investors, and other stakeholders.

What does an IT audit do?

Conducting IT audits enables organizations to identify weaknesses in their IT systems and processes. It improves security, ensures regulatory compliance, and enhances the overall IT governance. IT auditors examine not only logical and physical security controls but also overall business and financial controls that involve information technology systems.

IT audit objectives

Since operations at modern companies are increasingly computerized, IT audits are used to ensure that information-related controls and processes are working properly. The primary objectives of an IT audit include the following:

  • Evaluating the systems and processes currently in place that work to secure company data.
  • Determining if there are potential risks to the company’s information assets and finding ways to minimize those risks.
  • Verify that IT controls are being regularly practiced and maintained.
  • Safeguarding all IT assets.
  • Ensure information management processes are in compliance with IT-specific laws, policies, and standards.
  • Determine inefficiencies in IT systems and associated management.

IT audits assess an organization's security measures to ensure data protection and integrity. It reviews various aspects like network security, access control, and disaster recovery plans and offers recommendations to address any vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and compliance issues. 

Types of IT audits

There are five main types of IT audits that can be broken down in one of two ways: general control review and application control review. General control applies to all areas of an organization, whereas application control pertains to transactions and data related to a specific computer-based application.

To dive deeper, the five types are:

  • Systems and applications: Checking that the systems and applications are secure on all levels of activity, as well as reliable, valid, and efficient. 
  • Information processing facilities: Verifying that all processes are working correctly and if they’re in normal or disruptive conditions. 
  • Systems development: Confirming that systems under development are being created in compliance with the organization’s standards.
  • Management of IT and Enterprise Architecture: Examining whether IT management is structured and processed efficiently. 
  • Telecommunications: Investigates servers and network security to protect against a breach.

IT audit process

The IT audit process usually consists of four stages: planning, fieldwork, audit report, and follow-up. The process follows the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) approach and may vary depending on the organizational needs and audit functions. 

There are four main steps in an IT audit process.

  • Planning: To kick start the process, the IT auditor will define the scope, objectives, and methodology of the audit. This involves gathering information about the organization’s IT environment (existing systems, applications, data, policies, and processes) and identifying any risks and controls related to them. Once identified, they will develop and finalize an audit plan.
  • Fieldwork: Once the plan is in place, the IT auditor executes it and tests the effectiveness of the organization's IT controls. At this stage, they will also collect and analyze evidence that supports their findings. The auditor will document their work and communicate the discovered issues and recommendations to the stakeholders.
  • Audit report: After finishing the fieldwork, the IT auditor prepares a formal report that will summarize the audit findings and recommendations. The report will also comprise ratings and opinions for the identified IT audit area. This report is then presented to the stakeholders.
  • Follow-up: Post the implementation of the audit recommendations, the IT auditor monitors the changes and verifies whether they have resolved the issues or not. They will also evaluate for improved IT performance and the impact of the audit on the organization’s IT objectives and goals.

Hiring an IT auditor

When you don’t want to perform an IT audit yourself, it’s in your best interest to hire an IT auditor. It’s their job to examine not only physical security controls but also overall business and financial controls that involve the entire information technology system.

When you hire an IT auditor, they will need to identify five items in order to accurately gather the necessary information:

  • Knowledge and information on the business and industry
  • Results of previously conducted audits
  • Recent financial information
  • Regulatory statutes
  • Results of risk assessments

Once the IT auditor has identified, documented, summarized, and presented the audit findings to shareholders, they will also share any recommendations they have based on the results. It is also their job to deal with business ethics, risk management, business processes, and governance oversight.

IT audit checklist

If you need a framework for conducting your first IT audit, take a look at this distilled IT audit checklist below. It covers the fundamental areas of an IT audit including:

1. IT governance and policies
  • Evaluate the existence and effectiveness of IT policies and procedures.
  • Ensure alignment of IT policies with business objectives and strategies.
2. Security controls
  • Review access control policies, including user account management.
  • Assess network and infrastructure security, including firewall configurations.
3. Data protection and privacy
  • Verify compliance with relevant data protection and privacy laws.
  • Assess data security measures, including encryption and backups.
4. Change management
  • Evaluate change control processes for IT systems.
  • Ensure documented and tested system changes.
5. Business continuity and disaster recovery
  • Review business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
  • Assess preparedness for security incidents and data recovery.
6. Documentation and record-keeping
  • Ensure well-maintained documentation, logs, and records for audit purposes.
  • Verify that all company devices go through a factory reset before changing users. 

The specifics of your IT audit will vary depending on your organizational needs and regulatory requirements, but these are the basic areas that must be covered in all audits.

How G2 Track helps in IT auditing

When you utilize G2 Track, all of the crucial steps within an IT audit are in one seamless, well-thought-out place.

In your G2 Track dashboard, you’ll be able to:

  • Identify which apps you’re using, how often, and how much you spend on each
  • Unify all invoices, renewals, and compliance
  • Make sure all of your software is secure
  • Discover any duplicate subscriptions and apps that perform the same functions 

Essentially, a SaaS system of record like G2 Track has all of the features you need to conduct an IT audit. With all of this information in one seamless dashboard, it’s easier than ever to manage software spend, contracts, account usage, compliance, and more.

Audit IT out loud

A successful IT audit will give you the information and data you need to ensure that your infrastructure, policies, and operations are all exactly where they need to be.

These audits are your way of knowing that the controls in place are working to protect the company’s assets and the integrity of the data and remain in line with the objectives of the company. It’s just one more way you can work to keep all sensitive data on lock.

There's no denying that software has a lot of moving parts. Let G2 Track help! Sign up for a free demo to see how you can keep track of your software spending with ease.

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