IT audits can be daunting for many companies. Mistakes seem inevitable for complex enterprise organizations, but don’t they have to be. With some planning and preparation, your company can avoid these four common IT audit mistakes.
Every enterprise organization has to perform an IT audit at some point, and with the GDPR in place, it's even more important to undergo an annual IT audit to make sure that company IT infrastructure is up-to-date and there are no potential gaps in cybersecurity policy and procedures.
An IT audit, for the uninitiated, examines and evaluates everything about a company’s information technology, including its hardware infrastructure, computer applications, security policies and procedures, and IT-related personnel. An auditor also scrutinizes data protection controls, determines where risks may lie, and helps figure out ways to minimize those risks.
Auditors also decide whether IT departments align with the business goals of a company and they ensure organizations comply with various industry and IT-related laws and regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Auditing, whether done internally or externally by an outsourced third-party, is a rather straightforward process. Companies run down a checklist to see if the proper practices and procedures are in place to ensure data and systems remain protected, which results in a written report that highlights pros and cons, and recommends ways of addressing potential problems and challenges, including budget increases.
But while an IT audit might be straightforward, enterprise IT systems rarely are and a misstep or mistake during the IT audit process can significantly delay the process and even threaten your organization’s bottom line. Let’s sidestep that. Here are four IT audit mistakes to avoid:
- Unprepared Staff. One of the biggest reasons an IT audit can go south is due to an unprepared staff. Audits are already a time-intensive and stressful process, so it pays to prepare IT staff by making sure they know more about their own systems and technology than the auditor. Run test audits and quiz IT leaders as well as staff to make sure they know their systems and protocols inside and out.
- No Auditor Relationship. Getting to know your external auditor before they arrive builds trust and camaraderie. Often, auditors will return after an audit to see if changes have been implemented, so an ongoing relationship becomes inevitable. It’s best to form a positive relationship from the onset, establish clear communication lines, and take their recommendations willingly. It will make the whole process much easier.
- Confusing, Incoherent Reporting. At the end of the audit, the auditor must write and submit a report detailing their findings. Often, however, these reports appear incoherent, rote, or just plain confusing. Executives that need to review and approve budgets often don’t have the time to translate long, exhaustive reports into clear and cohesive actionable insights. If auditing internally, use easy-to-read metrics and visuals that can be easily translated into new policies and processes. Ask external auditors to do the same.
- Not Having a Plan of Attack Post-Audit. The audit is done and the reports are in - but your work isn't done yet. Now, you’ve got the challenge of addressing and fixing any IT and security issues that cropped up during the audit. Maybe a server isn’t upgraded, or a cloud app lacks proper encryption. If you don't have a solid plan for reviewing and prioritizing after the audit, you could be setting yourself up for a potential compliance violation and fine. And ultimately, the entire point of an IT audit is to find and rectify holes in your IT security framework.
Instead, have a plan in place with procedures for how you’ll better train staff, upgrade old hardware and software, and implement best security practices such as encryption in order to bypass compliance and regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA.
Those are a few of the more common IT audit mistakes enterprise organization make. One of the ways companies can guarantee a positive IT audit outcome is to outfit their systems with comprehensive encryption solutions such as the eperi Gateway, which allows for the pseudonymization of sensitive company and customer data. For more information, please contact eperi.
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