What is an Information Technology Audit?

The start of a new year is the perfect time to evaluate what’s working in your business–and what needs attention. As you look ahead to your next chapter, you should assess whether your IT infrastructure and operations require a tune-up. Conducting an information technology (IT) audit is a smart move for any company. 

Why is an IT audit so important? Unplanned IT downtimes or cyberattacks can be expensive to remedy. One study found that the average IT downtime takes companies 200 minutes to resolve and can cause significant productivity drops and lost revenue. 

And the average cost to remedy a single cyberattack is $200,000, according to CNBC. That expense can quickly put a company out of business. 

You can prevent IT disruptions and safeguard your business from cyberthreats by conducting a thorough IT audit. We’ll share answers to frequently asked IT audit questions to help you plan for your next audit.

What Is an IT Audit?

It’s essential to clearly understand what an information technology audit is before you conduct one. According to Harvard University, an IT audit is:

…the examination and evaluation of an organization’s information technology infrastructure, applications, data use and management, policies, procedures and operational processes against recognized standards or established policies. 

So your audit will look at the devices and software you use to run your business, along with your storage and security protocols and processes. Your audit should assess your IT assets and operations to ensure they work together to safeguard your business and help you meet your objectives.

What Should You Cover in an IT Audit?

Before you officially kick off your audit, take some time to review your operations. Small businesses should consider how employees and/or departments use technology in their day-to-day work. Typically, an information technology audit covers:

  • Physical and logical security: This area of an audit assesses how your business safeguards sensitive data. It looks at physical security, including measures such as door locks for server rooms and badges for employees who need access. Also, your audit should assess the security of your network by looking at firewalls, data storage, wireless network security, access control protocols, and more.
  • Regulatory compliance: Does your business need to adhere to any regulatory mandates related to technology? One example is medical practices that must protect confidential patient information.
  • Data backups: You need to have a plan for regular data backups for mission-critical information. The reason? If you experience an unplanned event, such as a natural disaster or cyber attack, you’ll be able to restore your operations quickly.
  • Hardware: Your audit should examine all of your hardware and document the performance demands and age of each device. Ideally, you should store information about your hardware in a database and plan to replace devices every three to five years.

Many businesses find it helpful to craft a checklist that outlines areas to evaluate in the audit. Your audit checklist should be comprehensive and include these critical components:

  • Cloud storage management
  • Computers and networked devices
  • Data backups and encryption
  • Firewalls and security protocols
  • Network speed and performance
  • Software update policies
  • User accounts and access
  • Wireless routers and access points

Auditors will use your checklist to guide their evaluation. Also, your checklist can help your understand employees what is important to safeguard data. That way, employees can be aware of potential risks or IT weaknesses and take proactive steps to keep your business more secure.  

Even if you’ve conducted a comprehensive information technology audit before, your old checklist may not be relevant. Your company may have added team members or acquired new hardware or software. Or you may have a need to grant more access to sensitive information to employees. That’s why an audit checklist you’ve used previously may not work for your business today.

Should You Use a Previous Audit Checklist?

Also, you need to be aware of emerging issues. For example, the adoption of bring your own device (BYOD) policies offers convenience but introduces significant risk. You may need new software or procedures to address cloud data management or to protect against malware threats.

What’s the takeaway? Your audit should reflect the current state of your business, so don’t use an outdated plan or checklist.

How Can You Get Started with an Information Technology Audit?

Every business should conduct a comprehensive IT audit at least once per year, although some enterprises need quarterly assessments. Unfortunately, far too many companies don’t perform regular IT auditing–either due to a lack of awareness or a lack of internal IT staff.

The good news is that you can rely on a trusted technology partner to handle your IT audit. At Saturn Networks, we bring our deep technology expertise and commitment to customer service to every IT audit we conduct. We’ll give you a complete, professional assessment of your IT infrastructure and operations and help you create a plan to address any areas needing attention.

Start the next chapter of your business with a solid IT foundation in place. Rely on the tech experts at Saturn Networks for a comprehensive IT audit. Contact us today!

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