From SOX to PCI, HIPAA and OMB A-123, there’s an increasing “alphabet soup” of IT compliance that companies today need to know and comply with to stay competitive and open for business. The type of IT compliance that your company needs to monitor often depends on your area of business operations and what industries you serve. Familiarizing your company with IT audits and ensuring compliance will prevent unwanted and costly visits from external auditors and compliance specialists.
Why does your company need to be ready for IT audits?
State and federal regulatory bodies implement audit requirements for businesses in order to protect customers, employees and the business itself. Without these governing bodies, there is no industry standard for businesses; this makes it much more likely for malpractice to happen when it comes to the business and customers’ data. Also, IT audits ensure what your business reports to the state and federal government is accurate. The government uses 3rd party compliance contractors to inspect your IT operations to ensure your business is following safe IT practices.
Audits inspect your IT operations for major and minor risks. Some of the major risks an audit may inspect include system implementation failure, cybersecurity failure and other security risks that leave your business susceptible to attacks. Some minor risks include minor misreportings, and employee entry errors. Although the audits might seem strenuous and picky, it’s for the benefit and security of your business and customers.
What can lead to an audit failure?
There are several things that can lead to IT audit failures. First, using manual processes for auditor requests can be very difficult to manage and show to the auditor, especially if your company is large. Even with thorough management you are likely to miss key aspects of the audit; using automation tools that track inventory and other assets is a great solution to this. Lack of communication with IT auditors can also lead to failure. Communicating with your auditor early and mentioning key projects will make it easy for you to stay compliant. If your business just waits until the auditor shows up to your building, it is highly likely they’ll find many IT issues in the audit.
Other reasons for IT audit failure include:
- Unprepared/uneducated IT staff
- Lack of regular internal testing
- Not reporting deficiencies
- Lack of ongoing improvement of monitoring of processes
How do you remediate any audit findings?
The auditing agency or compliance department that did your IT audit will likely send a letter and email to your IT department informing of any failures or flagged deficiencies. Most of the findings from the audit will be clearly stated and will have instructions for your IT to do within a given time frame (ex. 1 month). Once you have remediating the findings, you can submit an appeal and the auditor will come back for another IT audit.
If you’d like to know if your company is IT audit-ready, take a free assessment here!