Last year, Delta had a 5-hour computer outage that cost the company $150 million. Unexpected costs related to cybercrime are projected to surpass $2 trillion by 2019. For small businesses, hours of technology being down could mean significant losses to the bottom line.
While the impact to your business may not be quite as severe as it was for Delta, a technology disruption can cost you plenty of time and money!
Protect yourself. Put an IT Audit Checklist in place to ensure that your IT department has the tools they need to secure your network and avoid costly repairs.
What is an IT Audit Checklist?
When you create an IT Audit Checklist, you are building a system for assessing the thoroughness of your company’s information technology infrastructure. You are also testing the company’s IT policies, procedures, and operations.
Part of the growth of any company is understanding where you are now, what your strengths are, and identifying your weaknesses. As technology becomes even more integrated into every business, both large and small, understanding where your IT weaknesses and strengths are is key to identifying where growth opportunities are. Along the way, an IT audit can help you to clearly define potential security risks and where updates in software and hardware.
The primary goals of an IT audit are to determine if:
- Company data is sufficiently protected
- Hardware is appropriate and effective
- IT staff and supervisors have the necessary tools to perform their job duties
Companies have a responsibility to regularly audit their information technology procedures. This process helps protect the customers, suppliers, shareholders, and employees. Part of your relationship with these groups is built on their trust and confidence in your ability to manage and protect their personal information effectively.
As part of that relationship, companies have a responsibility to regularly audit their information technology procedures. This auditing process helps protect the customers, suppliers, shareholders, and employees.
What should be included in your IT Audit Checklist? Auditors are looking for a comprehensive list of the controls. Having an IT Audit Checklist in place helps companies complete a comprehensive risk assessment, either quarterly or annually. This assessment can be used to create an annual audit plan that is both thorough and robust.
The point is to make sure that your business is up to date regarding IT technology, both for the security of your data, but also to help your business have the technology to grow. Your IT Assessment Checklist can expose anything from network failures to insufficient data flows, the logging of inaccurate information, and other issues that could be potentially compromising your company’s data.
Another benefit of an IT Audit Checklist is that it provides a guideline for your employees. When employees understand what is necessary to protect data, and what areas to focus on, they can be proactive in identifying potential risks or weaknesses. Once they are identified, it is easier to create a plan that addresses them.
Employees can also reference the IT Audit Checklist to proactively prepare for audits and pass easily. It can build on the confidence and trust that people already have in your business. If you already have an IT Audit Checklist, you might be wondering if it is still effective.
New Concerns Impacting IT Audits
As technology continues to evolve, older audit procedures need to be updated. As technology continues to evolve, older audit procedures need to be updated. When it comes to determining what you want to make a priority in your IT management, your IT Audit Checklist can be a guide. Updating it allows you to make changes based on the outcomes of previous audits but can also be a great way to address emerging weaknesses or new areas of concern.
For instance, if your company is expanding, then you may be considering the purchase of additional hardware, as well as giving access to sensitive information to new employees. This type of expansion is going to require taking a hard look at your IT procedures and processes. Along the way, you want to update your IT Audit Checklist to make sure it reflects your new and updated procedures and processes.
Many companies find themselves growing to the point that they outpace their IT processes and procedures. That means their IT Audit Checklists may not reflect the IT reality of your business now. Part of updating your IT Audit Checklist involves identifying the current risks for your business, creating processes and procedures to address them, and then including all of that information in the IT Audit Checklist.
However, you might not be sure what risks your business is facing. Using a managed IT service, you can take advantage of their expertise to evaluate your current technology situation and determine the potential risks that your business faces. For many businesses, there are common risks that impact them, regardless of their industry.
Here are the top five emerging IT risks:
- Brand protection, regulatory violations, and confidentiality issues created by social networking Brand protection, regulatory violations, and confidentiality issues created by social networking
- Security and data loss issues caused by the increasing number of mobile devices used in business
- Information theft, loss of productivity, damage to hardware, and expenses caused by the growing malware epidemic
- Data management and other issues related to the growing popularity of cloud computing
- The potential loss of data and regulatory violations as more businesses convert to electronic records management
As you can see, there are multiple reasons to keep your IT Audit Checklist up to date and consistently review your IT processes and procedures. What are some of the benefits of using an IT Audit Checklist and how can it uncover potential problems within your organization?
Common Problems Uncovered by the IT Audit Checklist
An IT Audit Checklist often uncovers specific deficiencies that cause major problems for a business. With the constantly changing IT technology, your business could be at risk for a variety of reasons. Plus, there is the reality that hackers and cyber-security threats are also constantly evolving. When you follow through with an IT Audit Checklist, you are proactively addressing the reality of today’s IT world and doing your part to protect your business.
An IT Audit Checklist often uncovers specific deficiencies that cause major problems for a business. Once you walk through the checklist, you can clearly see areas where processes and procedures are lacking or where they might be absent altogether.
The growth of your business could produce additional IT risks that you may not have had in the past. Using your checklist, you can identify potential issues and put the protections into place before a problem actually occurs. Too many businesses lack a regular consistent review, which means they leave themselves open to potential cyber-security breaches.
Some of the most common issues include:
- Failing to have a policy in place or having policies that are outdated
- Lack of penetration testing or vulnerability scanning
- Remote access without 2-factor authentication
- Failing to have a dedicated person, separate from the IT Department, who is responsible for security
- Lack of disaster recovery and business continuity plans
- Failure to test plans and keep them up to date
- Lack of a centralized log management
- Not having an intrusion prevention system, or failing to manage and monitor it
- Insufficient data loss prevention systems
- Out-of-date networks or operating systems
- Lack of current network architecture and data flow drawings
There are multiple benefits to proactively addressing IT issues through the use of an internal IT Audit Checklist. Many businesses find it helpful for their IT department, as well as management, to address flaws or locate areas of high risk. However, not every company has an IT department, meaning that outside assistance is necessary to effectively create an IT Audit Checklist, and also to implement the necessary changes once it has been completed and reviewed. New businesses may also need this professional help to get off on the right foot with their IT management.
Even if you are already completing internal IT audits, it’s a great idea to get a second opinion. Here at Sagacent Technologies, we find major problems that have been overlooked.
One of the ways to take advantage of the experience of outside IT managed services is through an IT assessment. For many smaller businesses, setting up an IT Audit Checklist can take time, but their IT risks are still present. At Sagacent Technologies, we provide IT audits and assessments to small businesses, particularly those without a dedicated IT department, to help them identify risks throughout their technological systems.
We typically bring on one or two new clients every month, as well as performing 2nd Opinion Network Assessments. Therefore, we see a lot of different networking situations and environments. It gives a better idea of what risks you could be facing and how others have addressed them.
Our assessments can also help you to determine the right virus protections necessary for your network. When you address your IT risks, taking care of them will help protect the profitability and reputation of your organization. Taking advantage of one of our assessments can also help you to prevent future IT failures. After all, IT assessments are not just about identifying risks, but also proactively addressing them before hackers and cyber-security threats compromise your business.
No matter what industry you are in, the reality is that your business is using technology to manage employees, customers, orders, invoices, proprietary information, financials, and so much more. It is important to be proactive in addressing your IT security needs, as well as in creating processes and procedures to protect your business. IT Audits and Assessments from a qualified managed IT service can be the resource you need to supplement your IT department or to even serve as your IT department.
Don’t take chances with your business. Contact us today for a free 1-hour consultation.
Sagacent Technologies offers technology management and support, including proactive/preventative maintenance, onsite and offsite data back-ups, network and security audits, mobility solutions, disaster planning and emergency business resumption services. The company serves clients of 10 to 150 employees within the Silicon Valley region.