IT audits are essential to maintaining security and protecting information. By thoroughly evaluating controls and practices, IT audits help managers and employees to find problems and fix them. There’s just one problem with IT audits. They can be time-consuming affairs that take you away from your primary work, and that’s not all. If you receive an IT audit report with substantial findings, you might worry about looking bad in front of your management.
There’s a Better Way to Approach IT Audits
Rather than viewing them as a painful exercise, you can sail through IT audits in half the time they currently take. You can also get better IT audit reports, the kind of reports that make you look like an organized manager who knows how to run a department well. To cut down your IT audit time and earn good reports, follow our three-part process.
The Three-part Process to Cutting Your IT Audit Time
To save IT audit time, use the following steps to get ready. If you’re pressed for time, you can pick one or two of these practices to implement and still see benefits.
1. Discover IT Audit Hot Topics Throughout the Organization
In some IT audits, managers have the feeling of being blindsided by an IT auditor’s questions and findings. It’s an unpleasant experience. Worse, coming up with a reasonable response to an IT audit surprise finding is time-consuming and stressful. Fortunately, there’s another way. You need to use your internal network to find out about upcoming IT audit topics. To get that insight, use these steps:
- Write out the names of five trusted management colleagues in other departments.
- Call them and ask to meet for coffee or lunch.
- Ask them about any IT audits they’ve been involved in. They may not provide copies of reports, but brief oral summaries are still quite valuable.
- Ask about any surprises or challenges they faced during the IT audit.
- Repeat the above steps until you come up with two concrete IT audit themes.
Once you’re equipped with this information, arrange a meeting with your team. Ask them if they’ve considered these issues in your department. Next, ask your team if they have evidence to document how they’re managing these IT risks and audit topics. By proactively addressing concerns recently flagged in other IT audits, you’re more likely to have smooth sailing on your next IT audit.
2. Implement IT Security Administration and Recordkeeping Automation
In a criminal court, you’re innocent until proven guilty. For many of us, IT audits feel like the opposite! You’re considered “non-compliant” or worse unless you can provide evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately, keeping spotless records showing your diligence with IT recordkeeping is difficult. That’s where you can get ahead by leveraging IT security software solutions.
Here are two ways to save time on your IT administration while maintaining full records for audit.
- Use an IT security chatbot: Instead of asking staff to send you access approval requests by email, use a chatbot such as Apollo. Apollo is a chat service accessible by website, text message, Skype, and Slack. All employee requests submitted to Apollo are tracked centrally so that your auditors can easily review the data as needed.
- Use Compliance Auditor to systematize your controls: You don’t have time to think about IT audit issues every day. With Compliance Auditor, every access change is logged. For sensitive access requests such as requests for administrative access, you can use private flags to log comments.
With these system improvements, it’ll be easier to avoid one of the most common IT audit failures: failing to provide evidence.
3. Implement Monthly Management Reviews
Remember the saying: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That wisdom applies to IT security management. The type of review you use depends upon your role in the organization.
Business Manager Monthly Review
Time Required: 60 Minutes
You’re not expected to be an expert on IT security, but there are a few items you should consider. Run through this checklist once a month to stay on top of your IT governance. This risk-based review will focus on a few items that are likely to pose the greatest risk.
- Employee changes: Which employees have joined or left your department? Have their access privileges been updated accordingly?
- New apps and services: What new services do your staff need access to? Are you providing support to the tools they need?
- IT audit topics and recommendations: Periodically contact your peers to ask about new IT audit issues and findings. By proactively addressing such issues before an audit, you’re less likely to face an IT audit finding.
- IT hardware: Are there unused hardware assets (laptops, tablets, phones, etc.) in your office that can be handed back to central IT?
IT Manager Monthly Review
Time Required: Two Hours
Assuming you’re a people manager, your review will include everything business managers need to know. However, you’ll also consider a few more activities.
- Industry monitoring: Look beyond your company’s walls to discover additional issues that need to be addressed from an IT perspective. Joining a professional association such as ISACA is one way to get these insights.
- Inactive user risk: Detecting inactive user access accounts and closing them is a good way to reduce risk.
- Explore new security tools: You can improve your productivity and consistency by using new tools. How do you know which tools are relevant for your needs of saving time on IT audits? Spend some time reviewing new options on the market a few times a year to discover new possibilities.
The Secret to Reducing IT Audit Pain: Proactive Management
Ultimately, the best way to save yourself pain and hassle on IT audits lies in taking a proactive approach. Set aside one to two hours per month to do reviews, and your next audit will be fast and painless.