Improving IT Security Audit Quality With Technology

Improving IT Security Audit Quality With Technology

What happens when you cut corners on audit quality? At first glance, it seems like an excellent way to save money. After all, audits don’t bring in new customers. Audits don’t improve your product either. However, rushing through a cybersecurity audit is short sighted. Let’s break it down and show you a better way to enhance the quality of audit without sacrificing quality.

What Happens You Cut Corners On Cybersecurity Audits?

If you’ve been in the IT security game for a while, you’ve seen your fair share of painful audits. First, the auditors tell you the audit will take two weeks. Sigh, that’s a lot, but you can live with it. A few weeks pass. Then the request for data, reports and information arrives. Your heart skips a beat when you realize how much work it will take to prepare the material. You’re going to have to pull two people on your team from their regular work to respond to this request. Since you and your team are under stress, you might miss things in responding to the audit. Those shortcuts might not be noticed by your auditors, and that means you will have a less detailed, less useful audit report. Or that shortcut will lead to a longer, more painful audit process because you will face an endless stream of follow up questions.

The cybersecurity audit status quo no longer makes sense. High-quality IT security audits are critical to detecting problems and shortcomings in your organization. Without quality audits, you are going to face an increased risk of expensive hacking events.

So What Matters In Audit Quality?

For a cybersecurity audit to deliver value, there are a few factors that need to be optimized. According to research in the Journal of Investment and Management, the following factors contribute to high-quality IT audits:

  • Overall Framework — the existence of proper framework and audit procedures on IT audit quality. The framework helps ensure consistency across all audits. This framework will need to consider both best practices from organizations like ISACA and your organization’s strategic priorities.
  • Procedures and Tools. The methods,  procedures, forms and other tools can assist auditors in performing quality audit work. With access to tools and procedures, IT auditors are less likely to make mistakes or fail to ask the right questions.
  • Access. As noted in the research, IT audits “access to entity resource is affected on IT audit quality.” If auditors cannot put their hands on the right data, there is no way they can deliver a quality IT audit report.

The first two factors are up to the IT audit team to develop. The final point — access — is critical for you as an audit stakeholder to take into account. If you are not equipped to provide access to people and information, you place audit quality at risk.

The Technology Solutions That Enable Higher IT Audit Quality

You might assume we are going to suggest equipping your auditors with better software. That approach will certainly help, but that is not our focus. Instead, you are going to improve audit quality and speed long before your auditors ever show up. That’s possible by focusing on your preparation long before your IT auditors knock on your door.

Remember how we pointed out the importance of access to information and tools in achieving IT audit quality? Here are some of the ways you can contribute to high-quality audits.

  • Eliminate manual tracking for password requests. Some companies use a manual process for IT security — you have to send a request to IT or get a manager to approve access changes. This manual approach causes a problem because it is easy to make mistakes or lose track of records. You can solve this problem by using Password Station.
  • Increase IT security training for employees. As a manager, you can only do so much to improve IT security. That’s why we recommend providing periodic password training to employees. This training can take several forms. You could give a general password training session to increase awareness. Or you could provide an introduction on how to use your newly implemented IT security chatbot.
  • Standardize user access. When you administer user access and account requests by hand, you’re bound to make mistakes. For example, you might have a sales rep who changed jobs to customer success — they now have a mix of user accounts that doesn’t make sense. Those inconsistencies are bound to be discovered by cybersecurity auditors. To reduce that risk, use a solution like Group Requester.
  • Increase Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Usage. Making MFA available to your employees is not enough. You have to encourage them to use it and make it easy. Adopting MFA will show your IT security auditors you are working to meet best practices in the industry for security.

By using these technologies to streamline your IT security practices, you will immediately see several improvements. You will not need to scramble to provide documents to auditors when they arrive. That means less stress on your team and more time for you to focus on your core responsibilities.

Your Next Step To Better IT Security Audit Quality Is…

By following all of our guidance, your IT security audit quality will be dramatically improved. You will no longer have to face questions about inconsistencies, missing documentation and other common problems. Instead, you will receive an audit report that identifies deeper problems. That’s a good thing! By uncovering those issues through an audit, you can get support internally to address those concerns quickly.

Let’s face it, though. Nobody likes to receive an audit report with major findings or even observations. Many managers feel audit findings make them look bad. Certainly, if you have the same audit findings appear year after year, that’s a problem. Ultimately, it is best to view audit reports as a helpful, independent look at your department’s practices. Quality audit reports help you find problems so you can keep improving your organization.

Written by Nelson Cicchitto