Information technology audit

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An information technology audit, or information systems audit, is an examination of the controls within an Information technology (IT) infrastructure. An IT audit is the process of collecting and evaluating evidence of an organization's information systems, practices, and operations. The evaluation of obtained evidence determines if the information systems are safeguarding assets, maintaining data integrity, and operating effectively and efficiently to achieve the organization's goals or objectives. These reviews may be performed in conjunction with a financial statement audit, internal audit, or other form of attestation engagement.

IT audits are also known as automated data processing (ADP) audits and computer audits. They were formerly called electronic data processing (EDP) audits.


[edit] Purpose

An IT audit should not be confused with a financial statement audit. While there may be some abstract similarities, a financial audit's primary purpose is to evaluate whether an organization is adhering to standard accounting practices. The primary functions of an IT audit are to evaluate the system's efficiency and security protocols, in particular, to evaluate the organization's ability to protect its information assets and properly dispense information to authorized parties. The IT audit's agenda may be summarized by the following questions:

  • Will the organization's computer systems be available for the business at all times when required? (Availability)
  • Will the information in the systems be disclosed only to authorized users? (Confidentiality)
  • Will the information provided by the system always be accurate, reliable, and timely? (Integrity)

The IT audit focuses on determining risks that are relevant to information assets, and in assessing controls in order to reduce or mitigate these risks. By implementing controls, the effect of risks can be minimized, but cannot completely eliminate all risks.

[edit] Types of IT audits

Various authorities have created differing taxonomies to distinguish the various types of IT audits. Goodman & Lawless state that there are three specific systematic approaches to carry out an IT audit [1]:

  • Technological innovation process audit. The aim of this audit is to construct a risk profile for existing and new projects. The audit will assess the length and depth of the company's experience in its chosen technologies, as well as its presence in relevant markets, the organization of each project, and the structure of the portion of the industry that deals with this project or product, organization and industry structure.
  • Innovative comparison audit. This audit, as its name implies, means conducting an analysis of the innovative abilities of the company being audited, in comparison to its competitors. This requires examination of company's research and development facilities, as well as its track record in actually producing new products.
  • Technological position audit: This audit reviews the technologies that the business currently has and that it needs to add. Technologies are characterized as being either "base", "key", "pacing", or "emerging".

Others describe the spectrum of IT audits with five categories of audits:

  • Systems and Applications: An audit to verify that systems and applications are appropriate, are efficient, and are adequately controlled to ensure valid, reliable, timely, and secure input, processing, and output at all levels of a system's activity.
  • Information Processing Facilities: An audit to verify that the processing facility is controlled to ensure timely, accurate, and efficient processing of applications under normal and potentially disruptive conditions.
  • Systems Development: An audit to verify that the systems under development meet the objectives of the organization, and to ensure that the systems are developed in accordance with generally accepted standards for systems development.
  • Management of IT and Enterprise Architecture: An audit to verify that IT management has developed an organizational structure and procedures to ensure a controlled and efficient environment for information processing.
  • Client/Server, Telecommunications, Intranets, and Extranets: An audit to verify that controls are in place on the client (computer receiving services), server, and on the network connecting the clients and servers.

And some lump all IT audits as being one of only two type: "general control review" audits or "application control review" audits.

[edit] IT Audit Process

The following are basic steps in performing the Information Technology Audit Process:

  1. Planning
  2. Studying and Evaluating Controls
  3. Testing and Evaluating Controls
  4. Reporting
  5. Follow-up

[edit] Security

Auditing information security is a vital part of any IT audit. The broad scope of auditing information security includes such topics as data centers (the physical security of data centers and the logical security of databases), networks and application security. Like most technical realms, these topics are always evolving; IT auditors must constantly continue to expand their knowledge and understanding of the systems and environment& pursuit in system company.

[edit] History of IT Auditing

The concept of IT auditing was formed in the mid-1960s. Since that time, IT auditing has gone through numerous changes, largely due to advances in technology and the incorporation of technology into business.

[edit] International law regarding IT auditing

[edit] US Regulations and Legislation Related to IT Audits

Several information technology audit related laws and regulations have been introduced in the United States since 1977. These include the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the London Stock Exchange Combined Code, King II, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

[edit] European Union Regulations and Legislation Related to IT Audits

[edit] Audit Personnel

[edit] Qualifications

As the field is relatively young, not all jurisdictions have developed a pre-defined skill set that is required when evaluating the qualifications of IT audit personnel. Since auditors will be responsible for evaluating the controls affecting the recording and safekeeping of assets, it is recommended that IT personnel have detailed knowledge regarding information systems with a general understanding of accounting principles.

In the United States, usually it is considered desirable that IT audit personnel have received or qualify to receive the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Diploma in Information System Audit (DISA from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI-India)(ICAI)) and Certification and Accreditation Professional (CAP) credentials. The CISM and CAP credentials are the two newest security auditing credentials, offered by the ISACA and ISC2, respectively. Strictly speaking, only the CISA title would sufficiently demonstrate competences regarding both information technology and audit aspects.[citation needed]

Outside of the US, various credentials exist, with differing value and safeguards of professionalism. E.g., the Netherlands has the RE credential (as granted by the NOREA(Dutch site) IT-auditors' association), which among others requires a post-graduate IT-audit education from an accredited university, subscription to a Code of Ethics, and adherence to strict continuous education requirements.

[edit] Professional certifications of note

[edit] Other employees involved in IT audits

[edit] Emerging Issues

Technology changes rapidly and so do the issues that IT auditors face. Some emerging issues include biometric retinal scans, changes in physical security, and transmitting data from cell phones.

[edit] References

[edit] See also

[edit] Computer Forensics

[edit] Operations

[edit] Miscellaneous

[edit] Irregularities and Illegal Acts

[edit] External links

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