Digital assets are one of the most critical resources for organizations that are heavily reliant on IT. However, the growing reliance on operational processes on IT demands a greater understanding and control of your organization’s digital assets. The rapid escalation of emerging technology, combined with the increasing reliance on data infrastructure results in a number of IT-related issues that can result in IT audits.
What is an IT audit?
An IT audit is a review of your standard IT operational procedures, practices, and policies and an in-depth analysis of your digital assets. Furthermore, an IT audit also determines whether your cybersecurity measures are up to the mark.
With IT infrastructure being so complex nowadays, your organization can expect any sort of IT audit that focuses on specific aspects of your IT environment. From general IT audits that review the entire IT landscape to risk profile audits that highlight the vulnerabilities in your IT system, there can be a number of reasons you can be audited.
What to expect from an IT audit?
While preparing for an upcoming IT audit, you should also be aware of what findings you can expect from it:
- Clear revenue details by properly utilizing the assets
- The placement of proper security and controls
- Risk mitigation
- The need for knowledgeable decision making
Lack of preparation before an IT audit can result in settlements, true-ups and most importantly, lack of productivity and distressed operations. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure that you are fully prepared for a potential audit.
8 key points of an ultimate IT audit checklist
1. Notify the stakeholders
Once you have been informed about the audit, let your business partners and all the other stakeholders know about it so no one is caught off guard. All the parties involved should be well-prepared and on the same page.
Your teams and partners should set their affairs in order and be able to provide any documentation upon the auditor’s request. Most of the conducted IT audits are either software audits or risk evaluation audits. For such audits, you can derive relevant information from your ITAM and ITSM tools.
Before the external audit is performed, you should conduct a survey across the organization to find out the common IT-related issues that are likely to arise during the audit. Some common issues that surface include:
- Remote access to company’s network without two-factor authentication
- Outdated policies
- Lack of a business continuity plan
- Lack of centralized data management
- Insufficient data loss prevention systems
- Legacy operating systems
- Lack of network architecture
2. Prepare your documents
Make sure that all your documents are in a centralized location to save yourself time and inconvenience. This is easily possible if you keep track of all your software licensing and hardware asset details in an IT asset management software. By providing the auditors all the essential information in one place, your IT audit will be conducted more smoothly.
Along with the software and hardware details, you should also create lists of all your third-party providers and external vendors. You can import these details from your ITAM solution. Other information that should be made available to the auditors is the hardware asset lifecycle information and software usage details, etc.
3. Inventory analysis
Be armed with an in-depth knowledge of your software and hardware assets. You should also have detailed information about their usage, retirement protocols, and so on.
If you don’t have a proper asset retirement protocol in place, then worn-out or depreciated hardware can become a serious liability for you. You will also have to provide the access list to those assets. You can easily derive this information from your ITAM tool.
4. Written policies and procedures
In order to avoid scrambling during IT audits, your team should have detailed documentation of all the administrative policies and procedures that are practiced in the organization.
Make sure that all the information regarding these policies is clearly documented and is placed at a centralized location for easy access.
5. Information security plan
In order to avoid unexpected downtime or incidents due to cybersecurity concerns, you should always have an information security plan in place. Any organization registered with the Security Exchange Commission is required to have a written information security plan available.
If you have this written plan, then you can regulate standards for your organization to help prepare yourself for cyber risks.
6. Technical controls and safeguards
In order to keep your organization safe in the future, you need to implement proper controls and safeguards at checkpoints and make sure that there are no loopholes in your implemented controls.
This enables the security and protection of your application software and services. Therefore, before an IT audit takes place, make sure that you have a list ready of all the information on technical controls and safeguards so they can carry out their auditing tasks more efficiently.
In order to remediate the findings of an upcoming IT audit, you should run a dry self-assessment beforehand. You should let the auditors in your own organization i.e. internal auditors conduct a trial run beforehand so you don’t face any surprises later.
Running a self-audit will boost your confidence about the performance of your organization. Furthermore, if there are any loopholes in your IT infrastructure, self-assessment will highlight them for you.
8. Mitigations from previous findings
If your organization has gone through an IT audit in the past, then go through its findings and mitigate the previous risks before your upcoming one. Take remedial steps and resolve any serious issues that were found before.
If you think that you are short on time and cannot implement the changes/enhancements, you should have a concrete actionable plan in place so the external auditors can realize that you are sincere with your results and will take the necessary steps to eliminate the issues.
Having an ITAM tool in place makes it easier for organizations to conduct internal audits so you can take proactive steps before an external IT audit. Here is how an internal IT audit can benefit your organization:
- You can put measures in place to ensure that you always meet the compliance requirements for software and hardware usage. This helps guarantee that your business won’t face any fines or penalties during an external audit.
- Based on your hardware usage data, you can set up depreciation management protocols. You can track the usage of your devices, calculate depreciation over time, and anticipate their value before external audits.
- If there are lost or stolen assets that are still registered in your system, you can identify those ghost assets through internal audits. You can then eliminate these assets and take measures to minimize this trend.
- Internal audits help you track and update the locations of your assets so you can be prepared with the updated information ahead of an external audit.
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