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IT Management

What is an IT audit, and does your organization need one?

By August 11, 2016 No Comments

Whether your organization succeeds or struggles badly depends in part on its IT set-up. Everything from data storage to day-to-day operations depends on a wide variety of hardware and software.

Is your IT set-up optimized? Does it contain serious security vulnerabilities? The only way to answer these kinds of questions is to conduct an IT audit.

What is an IT Audit?

An IT audit involves carefully reviewing the health of an organization's IT set-up and the quality of its IT policies. We almost always conduct an IT audit when a prospect approaches when interested in our managed IT services.

The following are some of the main issues that get assessed during an audit:

  • Compliance with regulations. Depending on the nature of your organization, you may need to meet specific requirements for data privacy and cyber security. For example, organizations that handle healthcare information must comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations. Failing to meet regulations could lead to legal penalties and lawsuits. Regulations issued by the government usually represent the minimum standards an organization should meet; to improve IT security and performance, organizations will ideally exceed those standards.
  • Compliance with internal standards and protocols. In addition to meeting standards imposed by the government or other external agencies, a company should have its own set of IT policies that it follows closely. These polices are meant to maintain efficient IT operations, strengthen cyber security, and ensure that all IT activities support the organization's overall goals and needs. An IT audit involves both reviewing the strength of these policies and determining whether or not the organization abides by them.
  • Cyber security and data loss risks. Although it's impossible to lower the chances of a cyber attack or an IT disaster to zero, an IT audit can uncover areas of unacceptable risk. It can show you ways in which your organization's data remains dangerously exposed to theft, destruction, or tampering. It can also reveal weaknesses in the way you back up your data. For example, maybe you rely on back-up methods that leave your data vulnerable to permanent loss or make it very difficult to restore the data quickly when it's needed.
  • Integrity and performance of hardware and software. Your IT set-up may prove sub-optimal in various ways. Issues include hardware that needs to get replaced, network cables that are fraying, and software that performs inefficiently.

How do you know your organization needs an IT audit?

Sometimes, audits get conducted by outside agencies. Regulatory bodies, for instance, may send representatives to your organization to perform an audit and check for compliance with various IT standards.

In other cases, organizations perform internal IT audits. Ideally, you'll conduct these audits at regular intervals. They're especially important in the following circumstances:

  • Your organization's IT set-up has undergone significant changes. For example, you've replaced or added key hardware and software. Perhaps you're relying more on smartphones and tablets now and permitting employees to use their own devices for work-related purposes. Any changes require updates to your IT policies and assessments for unacceptable risk and performance issues.
  • You've suffered an IT disaster. After a cyber attack or another kind of IT disaster, it's important to figure out what exactly went wrong and how the problem might have been prevented or contained more quickly.
  • You want to take advantage of new IT developments. IT audits can show you ways of using new kinds of technology without exposing yourself to extremely costly risks. For example, after reviewing your IT set-up thoroughly, you may have a better understanding of how your organization can work with the Internet of Things, networks of Internet-enabled devices that perform a variety of functions. An IT audit becomes a way for you to improve your organization's performance and use new technologies advantageously.

Don't hesitate to contact us to further discuss conducting an IT audit for your organization. An IT audit can give you valuable insights on growing and developing your organization. It can also identify significant weaknesses that hinder your organization or endanger its security.

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