IT management

What Is an IT Audit? Everything You Need to Keep Your Data Secure

May 20, 2020

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Many companies, regardless of their industry, are investing more and more resources into technology.

Whether it be money, time, or staff, the impact that technology can have on a business is becoming clearer every day.

One of the ways you can better invest in your company is by understanding information technology audits, otherwise known as IT audits, which work to ensure your data and network are safe from an attack. After all, it can make all the difference between a successful company and one that fails because of a data breach

What is an IT audit?

In general, an audit is an investigation of an existing system, report, or entity. An IT audit is a review of an organization’s IT systems, management, applications, operations, data use, and other related processes.

While every audit is different, the process of an IT audit is typically made up of four stages: planning, fieldwork, reporting, and follow-up. 

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 objectives

The primary objectives of an IT audit include:

  • 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 find ways to minimize those risks.
  • Verifying the reliability and integrity of information.
  • Safeguarding all assets.
  • Checking that information management processes are compliant with IT-specific laws, policies, and standards.
  • Establishing the inefficiencies in the IT systems and associated management.

Why you need an IT audit

There are many reasons why an IT audit is important and why you need one.

Since so many organizations are spending large amounts of money on information technology in order to reap the benefits of enhanced cyber security and data security, 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 provides knowledge that the IT systems are appropriately protected and managed to avoid any sort of breach. 

Another reason why you should consider an IT audit is that it’s 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.

Looking out for shadow IT

Another major reason your company needs to conduct an IT audit is because of shadow IT, which is when applications and tools are used without the knowledge of your company’s IT department. This can include hardware, software, web services, or cloud applications.

As an example, let’s say your company uses Zoom for their video conferencing software, and a new hire downloads GoToMeeting without the approval of their supervisor or anyone within the IT department.

This creates gaps in security, even though many applications are harmless. Features such as file sharing, storage, and collaboration can present risks to your company’s sensitive data, especially since they’re not being monitored by security and IT departments.

How G2 Track can help

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

In your 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, and then some, you’ll 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.

How to do an IT audit

When it comes to carrying out an IT audit, it’s typically done with a few steps.

  1. Establish the objective of the IT audit
  2. Develop an audit plan to achieve those objectives
  3. Collect data and information all relevant IT controls and evaluate them
  4. Run tests such as data extraction or a full software analysis
  5. Report on any findings

Essentially, you’ll want to gather the information and do any necessary planning, then gain an understanding of the existing structure.

During the evaluation phase, any evidence that may have been collected during an IT audit will determine if the information systems are safeguarding assets, maintaining data integrity, and operating effectively to achieve the goals and objectives of the company. 

It’s also important that anyone performing the IT audit checks for compliance with government policies, standards, and the laws and regulations that pertain to information and related technology.

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 audits 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.

Knowledge is power

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, 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. Check out our extensive guide on software management.

g2 track essential
Manage software costs

Ensure your business isn’t wasting spend on unused tools and licenses within your tech stack.

Manage your software costs with G2 Track.