The 21st Century has brought along many fabulous inventions. Hybrid vehicles, the Internet, YouTube, Facebook, and of course, who could forget the iPhone. Billions of pieces of consumer and financial data are transmitted electronically every second. Our own personal and banking information is stored on a small, one inch wide magnetic strip that runs along the back of a plastic debit or credit card and is given to a merchant anytime we swipe our card. With all of the purchases that are made on a daily basis, how often do we stop to think about how safe the information that we may send electronically really is? If this information were to land in the hands of someone who was not authorized to use it, the damage could be financially devastating for that person. Now, imagine that the information for all bank customers at your branch was accessed via a network breach by hackers. Or, that the database which stores all of this information were corrupted and everyone’s data was mixed up? Chaos would ensue and people’s finances and personal information could be given to the wrong person. Pretty terrifying to think about right? Financial institutions have controls in place to try and prevent unauthorized access to this type of information as well as keep information free from corruption. They follow their own IT Audit Checklist to stay in compliance with federal rules and regulations and keep their consumers information safe and secure. If companies fail to maintain proper business protocols in place they can be fined by the Government and the FTC. The bad publicity that a poorly controlled institution would receive could have long term effects on their reputation and finances. I don’t know about you, but I would rather my personal information and money be stored where I know it’s safe. Audits help a business identify potential problem areas and put measures in place to correct them. To learn more about Audit Compliance and how it can help you and your business, check out our course on Audit Compliance.
Let’s take a moment to think about some of the things that we may do to prepare ourselves for income tax season. We have a checklist of items that we may review and complete before we send our taxes off to good ol’ Uncle Sam. We making sure to enter our tax information in the correct boxes, sign the correct forms and keep our receipts for deductions we may have claimed. If we aren’t sure of what to do we can ask a tax consultant or find instructions online. If you are the type of person that likes to do things on your own, I suggest you enroll in our basic income tax preparation course to learn how to complete a complete and accurate return. In the same way that we have somewhat of an idea of how scary and time consuming an audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) could be, company audits can be looked at and prevented in much the same way. Internal Auditors will have a more in depth knowledge of policies and procedures and will refer to an IT Audit Checklist to better manage departments and projects within their company. IT Project managers should be aware of the development life cycle to ensure that a project and any necessary changes do not alter the timeline or budget for the project without the approval of an authorized project manager. If you want to learn the essentials of project management, check out our project management course here. Since business processes and project methodology will vary based on company size and the type of projects and data that are controlled from company to company it is always a good practice to frequently review the current IT Audit Checklist. The best form of prevention is to be proactive in your control processes. Here are some ways to tighten up your Audit Controls to keep your information and data safe and clean.
Identify the Project
Identify the scope of the project and the impact that it will have on other applications and resources. Who will be assigned to the project team? What is the project budget and timeline? Who will the project impact? What is the desired project outcome? Identifying these key components will help you also identify where and how changes should be made, therefore allowing you to better control them. First time managing a project? Need to learn more about project management and how to identify project scope? We’ve got you covered, I highly suggest this Manage Project Scope tutorial to learn more.
Identify the Development Process
There are several development methodologies that can be used in a project life cycle. The first step is to identify which one you will be using. Maybe your development team favors the Agile method over the Waterfall method. If this is the case you should learn all that you can about the Agile method development process. Check out our awesome course ‘Testing in Agile’ to learn more about it. Only then will you be able to identify the best ways to develop an audit process that will work for you and with your business processes.
Identify the Potential Risks
We may have complete knowledge of our department and how to keep it safe, but, we may not always be totally familiar with other departments and their processes. The best way to identify potential areas of risk in departments that you are not familiar with, is to simply ask. As obvious as that may sound, it’s a step that many of us often forget to take. Having the foresight to seek out department managers and key employees will also help you to identify and document department processes and procedures that can be used for reference when creating an IT Audit Checklist. Only when you have a clear and complete picture of the roles that each employee plays in the company and how much access they are given to data will you be able to identify potential risks. To learn more about risk management and becoming a Professional Risk Manager you should enroll in this course.
Create an organizational chart to help identify key employees and department managers. These key employees can explain which tasks the department handles, transactions that occur within the department and the employees that are authorized to make those data transactions. Knowing each person’s role within a department will help to pinpoint where an issue has come from when they do arise. Being able to react to an issue quickly will help to minimize potential damage. Human error will occur, so it’s always best to be prepared for it in a proactive fashion.
Knowing the audits ultimate goals, objectives, scope and purpose will help you to determine the actual audit procedures and help you to keep your company and data safe from corruption and unwanted access.