A disruption to your company’s information technology (IT) systems can disrupt your business operations as well, costing you time and money while employees wait for repairs. An audit of your IT systems can identify and fix those potential disruptions before they happen – and an IT audit checklist can assure that your IT department has the necessary resources in place to keep your systems safe.
What Is the Main Goal of an IT Audit Checklist?
The primary goal of an IT audit checklist is to simplify and streamline the audit process. When developed and used correctly, the audit checklist outlines the list of tasks one must undertake to safeguard your network. This allows IT teams to avoid errors and do their job more efficiently.
More precisely, IT audit checklists can also:
- Facilitate easier and more consistent audits;
- Assure that audits are conducted systematically and comprehensively;
- Help personnel to stay organized when conducting the audit;
- Define the audit scope, so that important tasks aren’t omitted and irrelevant ones aren’t included;
- Serve as a memory aid to help personnel perform better during the audit process;
- Create a sense of accountability among personnel;
- Provide proof that the audit was conducted;
- Record the examination of the Quality Management System (QMS)
What to Include in Your IT Audit Checklist
Your IT audit checklist should cover four primary areas.
Physical and logical security
It’s important to understand the physical security your company uses to safeguard sensitive corporate data. Hence your audit checklist should include issues such as whether server rooms are locked and whether individuals need security badges to enter.
Assessing your network for security vulnerabilities is also urgent. This includes:
- Ensuring that all procedures are well-documented;
- Testing software that deals with sensitive information;
- Looking for holes in your firewall or intrusion prevention systems;
- Making sure that you’re storing sensitive data separately;
- Checking that wireless networks are secure;
- Scanning for unauthorized access points;
- Ensuring proper access control, such as checking the identities of users and confirming that they have the proper credentials to access sensitive data.
You should also determine whether the IT team applies patches and operating system upgrades promptly and keeps all applications and antivirus software updated. Review critical network security practices, too. For example, do remote workers connect to your network via a VPN? Do you require multi-factor authentication? Do you restrict access to risky websites, such as file sharing and adult content sites? Have you implemented password policy best practices?
Fulfilling regulatory compliance obligations is a priority for any company. Without compliance, you risk a host of bad outcomes, from expensive regulatory investigations and monetary penalties to customers refusing to do business with you.
Moreover, most organizations now have a long list of compliance obligations. For example, companies that do business with customers in the European Union are required to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Healthcare organizations must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations that provide data privacy and security provisions for protecting patients’ protected health information. Healthcare companies must also adhere to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), which governs the protection of digital health information.
Publicly traded companies must comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), which centers on accurate financial reporting and record-keeping. All organizations that store, process, or transmit payment card information must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which covers security around payment processing.
If your company has to adhere to these or other regulations, you should include all the requirements set out by each regulation in your IT audit checklist.
Data backups should be part of your disaster recovery and business continuity planning, so include a review of how and how often your company backs up critical data. This helps to assure that you’re prepared for potential natural disasters and cyberattacks. Preparation is key to keeping your company up and running.
You should determine:
- When you last tested your backup method;
- How long it would take for your current data backup system to recover;
- How long your business could realistically afford to be down;
- The financial cost of downtime to your company;
- Whether you have a copy of your data offsite.
Your IT audit checklist should also include a comprehensive inventory of your company’s hardware, noting each piece’s age and overall performance demands. Best practices suggest that the inventory be maintained in an asset management system with a configuration management database (CMDB). Typically, you should replace IT hardware about every three to five years. With this information, you’ll know when your hardware is nearing its end of life so you can plan when to purchase new equipment.
What Does an IT Audit Do?
An IT audit confirms the health of your IT environment. It also verifies that IT is aligned with the business objectives and that your data is accurate and reliable.
The main goals of an IT audit are to assure that your corporate data is adequately protected, your hardware and software are appropriate and effective, and your IT team has the tools it needs. An IT audit can help you uncover potential information security risks and determine whether you need to update your hardware or software.
To prepare for an IT audit, you need to know the purpose and scope of the audit, the time frame, and the resources you’ll have to provide. This will depend on whether the IT audit will be conducted by an outside firm or your own internal auditors.
An IT audit checklist is a system that lets you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your company’s IT infrastructure, as well as your IT policies, procedures, and operations. Having an IT audit checklist in place lets you complete a comprehensive risk assessment that you can use to create a thorough annual audit plan.
You can also use your IT audit checklist as an employee guideline. If you incorporate it into the onboarding process, new employees will know what’s necessary to protect data, so they can help identify potential risks or weaknesses – and finding these risks and weaknesses makes it easier to create a plan to address them. In addition, your employees can reference your IT audit checklist to prepare for your information technology audits.
RiskOptics Helps Businesses Track Compliance and Risks
An IT audit can be a long, complicated process – and many times, one IT audit can address multiple risks or compliance obligations. So manually compiling an IT audit checklist and then working through the audit itself can be complex and tedious work, with omissions and errors a possibility.
The ZenGRC unifies risk management, cybersecurity, and compliance activities in a single solution, helping you eliminate inefficiencies, simplify compliance, and create a single source of truth. Moreover, a risk posture dashboard provides a real-time view of risk and compliance, helping you prioritize actions and investments that increase compliance and minimize risk.
ZenCRC lets you map compliance controls and automate the evidence collection process. This removes any ambiguity and provides transparency into how your compliance efforts affect your residual risk position while allowing you to prioritize work and accelerate audit prep.
Get a demo to learn more about how RiskOptics can help simplify and track your organization’s compliance risks.