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ComplianceFinanceTax & AccountingMarch 30, 2022

How can internal audit help manage IT risks?

Across the board, so many types of organizations today face an elevated level of cybersecurity threats and similar types of IT risks. In addition to more traditional areas of computing security like trying to block malicious websites and emails, organizations also have to deal with areas like cloud network security, particularly with more employees working from home.

But you don’t have to be an IT expert to improve information security. The internal audit function can play a leading role in improving an organization’s data security and related areas of risk management. Much as internal audit teams provide assurance in other areas like financial risk and compliance risk, they can do so with IT or cybersecurity risk. 

As we’ll dive into in this article, IT teams and CISOs can still drive the appropriate strategy, in terms of establishing network access policies, but internal audit departments can conduct IT audits to then make sure the proper protocols are being carried out. Internal auditors can also collaborate with other business units to help ensure everyone’s implementing appropriate internal controls and help stakeholders understand where the most critical risks exist.

Plus, by conducting internal audit activities on an ongoing basis, they can provide continuous risk assessments to help organizations keep up with the evolving nature of cybersecurity threats.

Conducting IT audits

One of the most important ways that internal audit teams can help manage IT risks is by conducting a comprehensive IT audit. While this type of audit risk assessment can go in many different directions, some of the areas an audit plan might cover include:

  • Inventorying IT assets, such as to help IT teams keep track of security updates and device permissioning
  • Reviewing work-from-home policies as they relate to network infrastructure access and device usage
  • Coordinating with IT and other departments on incident response procedures, such as notifying clients about a breach
  • Reviewing the results of security practices like penetration testing

Reporting on cybersecurity threats

Another way that internal audit can help manage IT risks is by reporting on cybersecurity threats to relevant stakeholders. This can include coordinating with other departments like enterprise risk management and legal, as well as executives and board members.

“An internal auditor’s knowledge of the management of risk also enables him or her to act as a consultant providing advice and acting as a catalyst for improvement in an organisation’s practices,” notes the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors.

Using internal audit software that can integrate with other systems, like regulatory compliance software and risk management software, to then conduct control testing can help audit teams get a more complete picture of potential risks. From there, strong internal audit technology can be used to create easily digestible reports, through data visualizations, to help stakeholders act on security risks and other relevant threats.

Continuous IT risk assessments

Conducting IT audits and reporting on cybersecurity threats can help organizations address risk management processes. However, to best stay on top of cybersecurity risk, internal auditors often benefit from conducting more continuous IT risk assessments.

In other words, instead of leaving risk assessments as part of annual internal auditing, organizations can have more of an ongoing, dynamic audit process with the right internal audit software.

With robust data integration and automation capabilities, TeamMate+ can help internal audit teams conduct more continuous control testing and easily generate reports on-demand. That way, you can stay on top of current cybersecurity threats, which can evolve faster than an annual review can keep up with, as well as compliance requirements and related areas.

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