IT audits are tedious. That said, they are a necessity. Internal audits enable you to dig deep into operations, improve efficiency and tighten up security to ensure your IT system adds value to the business and meet compliance.
You probably know from experience that time and money is wasted due to IT failures. Availability is a critical asset for businesses that rely on an IT infrastructure.
In addition to evaluating the efficiency of your IT system, internal audits also assess business operations and policies. They ensure you have a recovery plan when operations are directly affected by your IT framework and identify whether your business is meeting compliance obligations.
Subsequently, the scope of an IT audit should involve key IT personnel together with employees that interact with the hardware, software and networking. In other words, the end-users in each department.
Sometimes bringing in IT auditors externally delivers a more thorough audit. The experts at MicroPro, for example, deliver an objective audit that involves a full review of IT systems.
Our skilled professionals will also ask basic questions to get a complete view of your business. It is often the case that most areas of investigation are overlooked by internal users because they are too close – you cannot see the wood for the trees.
Why Businesses Should Conduct An IT Audit
Technology needs testing intermittently and maintaining constantly. An independent IT audit is a highly useful tool for companies to protect their assets and ensure the smooth running of the company.
The purpose of IT audits is to ensure your IT infrastructure is working efficiently, performing the functions you need it to and identifies potential problems waiting to happen. The objective is to identify and understand the functionality of your IT system and identify vulnerabilities that impede your IT governance framework.
With this information, you are better placed to avoid downtime through a malfunction or a data breach. In essence, IT audits help to protect your business from incurring regulatory fines and damaging your reputation.
The IT audits we perform at MicroPro focus on risk assessment and security. Our experts evaluate the performance and potential vulnerabilities of your servers, security infrastructure and operational processes that could potentially compromise your business network.
Conducting an IT audit provides the following benefits:
- Determines the reliability of your business technology
- Assess risks that could impact productivity
- Identify ways to improve business communications
- Enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of operations
- Tighten cybersecurity defences
Types of IT Audits
IT audits can broadly be covered by three types:
- General Controls
- Application Controls
- IT Security
General IT control covers the basic permissions given to end-users; the capacity to access and use applications and data stored on your network. An IT audit ensures the integrity, availability and confidentiality of data are protected in line with compliance regulations (e.g. consumer privacy rights).
Application control involves assigning system administrators and restricting unauthorised access to certain parts of your network. For example, privileged information will be stored in a directory that is only accessible by C-suite executives. If unauthorised devices or accounts attempt to access data, the system will block access and authorised personnel will be alerted.
Installing controls is fine to add an extra layer of security to your system. However, it’s not a long-term strategy. IT networks require several layers of information security.
IT audits will assess whether the security protocols installed several years ago are still relevant. An auditor should understand the latest threats presented by cybercriminals that could lead to a data breach.
The IT audits we perform at MicroPro involves penetration testing. This identifies vulnerabilities across your IT infrastructure that could be exploited by malicious actors.
In addition, we deliver an assessment of the potential impact on your business if your IT network is compromised.
It’s worth noting that security issues do not always come from external sources. They can originate from inside the company; disgruntled or dishonest employees or double-agents engaged in corporate espionage.
Subsequently, our IT audit reviews include assessing potential vulnerabilities from various perspectives including desktop users, hot desk users, satellite office, connected directly to the network infrastructure etc.
We also audit cloud and virtualisation environments, helping to improve risk and data management, as well as stay compliant with data security regulations.
How to Plan an IT Audit
Pre-audit planning involves gathering intelligence and developing an appreciation of your IT environment. With this information at hand, an IT auditor can conduct the audit effectively.
The purpose of collecting information is so you can prepare a report that helps C-suite executives to understand the potential risks and identify areas that will improve the efficacy of your IT infrastructure.
The ultimate goal of the report is to provide information that gives you the freedom and confidence to implement strategic planning that helps your business grow.
To get an appreciation of the IT environment, you need to assess documentation that outlines internal IT procedures and the day-to-day operations of the business.
Without this basic understanding of your IT framework, you may miss critical components and reach incorrect conclusions. Again, this is why external auditors are better placed to conduct IT audits.
The initial review is a high-level look at IT procedures across the entire business. This includes how the environment is controlled, identifying the layers of security and assessing the integrity, availability and confidentiality of data.
Most IT audits apply a risk-based approach to planning and performance. By identifying potential risks, you can install control solutions that mitigate the risks.
Finally, the audit assessment should address business continuity and disaster recovery. This documents how the business will function in the event of a failure to your IT system.
You can read more about how to create an effective disaster recovery plan here.
Three Key Steps of IT Audit
The first step of an IT audit is to gather information about your existing system. This involves creating an asset inventory and investigating how devices, networks and apps are secured.
An inventory of assets should include hardware and software and assess whether they are outdated when they will be out of date and whether you are using the latest version (e.g. latest security update).
Knowing the age and editions of your IT resources is crucial for several reasons. Outdated equipment and software delivers a slower performance, increases IT costs and makes you more susceptible to a data breach.
To reduce costs, a financial assessment that covers your total IT expenditure should be covered in the first stage of an IT audit.
Documents that detail IT policies, procedures and cybersecurity protocols also need reviewing and testing. Companies that are registered with the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) are required to have a written information security plan.
Auditors will also need access to a list of third-party services and contractors. The list should also include purchase and warranty documents of your IT infrastructure.
With a complete overview of your resources, expenditure and policies, IT auditors are able to find solutions that enable you to reduce operating costs, increase productivity and maximise profit.
The next step is to investigate the existing control structure and user processes. No matter what size a business is, security controls and safeguards are critical components in the protection of your data.
Without dedicated controls and strategic points, applications and software could present hackers with a gateway onto your network.
In this step, the audit should focus on systems and applications and ensure that all users are verified. It should also test that your IT system is secure at every access point.
Devices, applications and systems development also need testing to ensure they are appropriate, efficient and reliable. If any part of the infrastructure does not align with your company goals, it will be brought to the attention of executives.
Protocols for the management of IT and enterprise architect should also be addressed. This addresses how you process, store and control data. An IT audit should flag up areas in which the business is failing compliance obligations.
Identifying solutions to improve the efficacy of business communications should also be assessed. Evaluating client/server, intranet, extranet and telecommunication features helps to ensure your teams, departments, clients, partners and stakeholders are connected, in reach and receiving relevant data.
Once you have all the above information to hand and understand how your IT system functions, you are able to create a review that addresses key areas and provides recommendations.
The key areas are risk assessment and security, and at the very least should include the following:
- List of critical assets that are required for business continuation
- Potential threats to critical assets
- Vulnerabilities and potential risks to assets
- Risk mitigation plan (including how often the risk management plan should be reviewed)
- List of assets and controls
- Security risk management
- Internal and external security
- System and network management
- User verification, authorisation and access controls
- Vulnerability management
- Incident management
- Data privacy, storage, protection and recovery
- Cybersecurity awareness and training
Qualified IT Professionals in London
The IT professionals at MicroPro are trained IT auditors and used innovative methods to analyse and assess the IT framework of your business.
Once our IT experts in London have performed an IT audit, you will be in a position to take a layered approach that offers diversity, retires outdated or inefficient systems, supports compliance and sets you up to grow your business.
Our ultimate goal is to provide you with a report that enables you to understand the risks in your existing IT systems and processes, underscore the potential impact of a security breach, and explain which regulatory penalties may be imposed as a result of such a breach.
The review also provides recommendations of how you can minimise risk and implement a company-wide IT infrastructure that is efficient, secure and agile.
The recommendations we offer focus on ensuring your IT systems are efficient and compliant with various industry regulations. In addition, we also provide solutions and strategies that improve value and are most appropriate to business growth.
And because Micro Pro have in-house engineers with a wealth of experience in designing and implementing IT systems, we can drive your IT strategy forward quickly and efficiently.