Regardless of the size of your organization, as well as the type of industry in which your company specializes, an internal audit offers you crucial insights into your computing system’s overall functionality, potential security risks and various possible solutions available. As you probably know, complacency in today’s world of ever-evolving technology — where cyber criminals seem to adapt in lock-step — can result in damaging consequences that include employee fraud, wasted resources and government fines leveled against your company.
So, you might need to ignore your intuition telling you that your organization is safe because it is smaller or not well-known in your industry, which makes sense on the surface, the truth is that all businesses are susceptible to risks thanks to inhabiting the same digital world as motivated and unscrupulous cyber criminals.
The Size of Your Organization Makes No Difference to Seasoned Cyber Criminals
Many CIOs and IT managers for smaller companies lull themselves into a false sense of security, imagining that cyber attacks happen primarily in large-scale corporate organizations, featuring revenue returns below $100,000 million. The fact remains, however, that “43% of cyber attacks target small businesses.” The criminals don’t care who they’re attacking, and while any given business isn’t worth much, they have viruses or ransomware that allow them to attack thousands or millions.
What Are the Top 5 Benefits of an Internal Audit for Your Company’s Computing System to Run Smoothly?
Whether you monitor and manage the technology for a financial institution, an insurance company, an accounting firm, a healthcare facility, or another firm that handles highly sensitive client data, it is imperative that you continually monitor your computing system for inconsistencies. An internal audit, however, can help you take things several steps deeper to detect technological security risks quickly so you can manage them just as swiftly, as well as accurately and completely.
Consider some of the 5 benefits that you, your IT team and your organization can reap from performing regularly scheduled internal audits:
1. Measure Your Practices and Processes Against Proposed Procedures and Make Corrections.
You, your company’s CEOs and CFOs, and your IT team probably regularly meet to discuss idea procedures that you intend to follow — and instruct your staff to follow — to ensure that your technological goals for security and efficiency align with your set procedures. If you discover inconsistencies, it is a good time to distribute a memo, hold a meeting or reach out to a staff member in violation — often due to confusion — to address and correct the issue, or issues.
2. Reduce the Risks of Data Breaches and Other Cybersecurity Concerns.
By regularly conducting simulated exercises that relate to your company’s crisis management plan, also known as penetration tests or pen tests, as well as vulnerability scans, you additional means of determining the soundness of your network architecture to help protect against cyber attacks and other breaches. With these tests — often called “white hat tests” since the good guys are the ones executing the attack — you can get an insider’s view of the health of your computing system and its ability to stave off attacks. This information arms you and your IT team with invaluable information that can help you detect and correct SQL injections, out of date system patches, misconfigured server settings and problematic in-house developed software.
3. Protect Your Internal Network.
Detect vulnerabilities within your computer system’s internal framework to secure critical information stored in your computing system with regularly scheduled internal audit practices. Such audits can help you determine whether your single layer of defense lining the perimeter of your system works well enough. If your internal audit feedback indicates vulnerabilities, you might turn your focus to improving your defenses by using a multi-layered approach to internal data security.
4. Staying Up-to-Date on Governmental Regulations to Maintain Compliance.
Whether federal, state, local — or all at levels — all businesses must comply with certain regulations and statutes. Since enforcement agencies have no obligation to inform business owners about any laws or regulations, it is up to organizations to stay one step ahead. Your executive and IT team have probably an established list of statutes and regulations that you know are relevant to your business and a specific agency. However, these statutes and regulations can change — sometimes in such subtle ways that it is easy to miss — in an instant and, again, with no notification sent to business owners. An internal audit helps you and your team keep up with these critical legal concerns to make sure you stay in compliance to avoid fines or any other possible sanctions.
5. Monitor Mobile Technology Security and Efficiency.
If you have a BYOD policy, it is important to perform internal audits to determine how many BYODs you have authorized, as well as devices you have purchased and assigned to staff members. A thorough mobile technology internal audit helps you report stolen or lost personal devices and also gives you a chance to ensure that each device features encryption to protect sensitive data, or that mobile users do not keep such data on their personal computing devices.
Once you start practicing regular internal audits, you will discover a huge range of additional benefits, which include defining and maintaining a consistent social media policy, keeping your board of directors aware of the health of the computing system, improving your approach to effective risk management, and staying mindful of emerging technologies, among others.
Reach Out for Help to Refine Your Internal Audit Process
If you and your team are new to the internal audit process, or if you need help refining your approach, I.S. Partners, LLC can help you meet your goals relying on the expertise of trusted experts. Feel free to reach out to call or chat for additional information and a quote for services. We invite you to contact us via phone (215) 675-1400 or use our online form to request a quote for a compliance check today. Discover how our motto, “Audits without Anxiety!”™, coupled with our experienced team, can help your organization remain compliant year after year.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.