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Security Governance

What is Auditing?

Auditing is a verification, inspection or examination of a process or system to ensure it is working as expected.

artistic rendering of IT auditing

In security, an audit is an independent review of whether an organization’s records, processes and activities ensure compliance with established security policies, regulations.

Currently, auditing is often a high cost, low value, activity usually done through manual data gathering and correlation and primarily seeks to establish how consistently a documented policy is being followed.

Often, this means teams spend more time gathering sample data and trying to organize it than they do really making improvements based on it.

Benefits of an IT Audit

Audits help identify vulnerabilities and security risks in an organization's IT assets. This provides the insights and opportunity to correct these flaws to prevent potential security breaches.

Audits are also necessary for:

  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensures that the organization's IT infrastructure complies with regulatory requirements and industry standards, thereby avoiding legal penalties and fines
  • Improved Security Posture: By uncovering security loopholes, an IT audit helps in strengthening the organization's overall security measures
  • Enhanced Operational Efficiency: Audits can reveal inefficiencies in IT processes, leading to better resource management and optimized operations
  • Assurance to Stakeholders: Provides assurance to stakeholders, including customers, partners, and regulators, about the robustness of the organization's IT systems
  • Informed Decision Making: Audit results help management in making informed decisions regarding IT investments, policies, and strategies
  • Preparedness for Emergencies: Prepares the organization for emergency responses in case of a cybersecurity breach by identifying gaps in current response plans

Drawbacks of an IT Audit

A comprehensive IT audit can be a slow and manual process. Our survey of more than 50 security leaders around the world found, on average, their teams spend 301 hours on just gathering data for every audit.

In addition to being resource intensive and expensive, audits can:

  • Disrupt Operations: The audit process can disrupt normal operations, especially if it involves extensive testing and verification procedures
  • Produce False Positives: Vulnerability tests and other audit procedures may generate false positives, leading to unnecessary alarm and effort
  • Have Limited Scope: Audits are typically a snapshot in time and may not capture all potential issues, particularly those that evolve rapidly in dynamic IT environments
  • Encounter Resistance to Change: Employees and management might resist the changes recommended by the audit, leading to potential conflict and slow implementation of corrective actions

Workflow visualization and security business intelligence can expedite the auditing process. By using a process-centric data model, the collection, analysis, and reporting required for audits and compliance are simplified.

Types of Auditing

During the process, the IT auditor may offer counter recommendations on how to improve the security posture. Here is a small sampling of the kinds of auditing you may encounter in cybersecurity:

Process Audit

  • Verifies that processes are working within established limits.
  • Evaluates operations or methods against predetermined instructions or standards.
  • Checks the adequacy and effectiveness of process controls.

Product Audit

  • Examines a particular product or service to evaluate whether it conforms to requirements, such as specifications and performance standards.

System Audit

  • Conducted on a management system to verify that it meets specified requirements.
  • Includes quality management systems, environmental management systems, food safety management systems, and safety management systems.

Internal Audit

  • Performed within an organization by its employees to measure strengths and weaknesses against its own procedures or standards.

External Audits

  • Second-Party Audit: Conducted by a customer or a contracted organization on behalf of a customer, usually to evaluate a supplier.
  • Third-Party Audit: Performed by an independent organization to certify compliance with standards, often resulting in certifications like ISO 9001.

IT Security Audit

  • A comprehensive assessment of an organization’s security posture and IT infrastructure.
  • Includes penetration tests, compliance audits, risk assessments, vulnerability tests, and due diligence questionnaires.

Follow-Up Audits:

  • Conducted to verify that corrective actions have been implemented following initial audit findings.

Each type of audit serves a specific purpose. The goal of an audit is to help the organization make sure their IT systems are secure, efficient, compliant, and operating as expected.

How to Accelerate Auditing

Instead of learning about problems from audit failures, integrating a data driven security governance platform into your cyber systems can proactively identify, understand, and solve them.

How to Master Security Audits and Data Experimentation

Automatic, continuous data capture reduces the manual workload required to gather data about every security process execution. Learn more in this ebook.

Learn more

Demo: Mastering Security Audits and Data Experimentation

Webpage: How to Accelerate Auditing

Infographic: State of Vendor Security

ebook: Process Mining: The Security Angle

Video: What will the role of an IT auditor look like in 20 years with Generative AI?