This article covers IT Audit Tool and Guide. It provides items to review during the audit and question to ask.
IT Audit Tool Scope
Under normal circumstances auditors conduct IT type audits to inspect and to ensure that the company adequately protects information.
With respect to these audits, inspection of the
following items would appear to be reasonable:
regarding access to buildings and sensitive areas
regarding access to resources (network, system, applications, data) during
information creation, transmittal, storage, backup, archival, recovery or
restoration, and disposal
regarding identification and authentication, including inactive session limits,
thresholds for maximum sign-on attempts, and password change controls
of unauthorized and unsuccessful attempts to access applications and
related to malicious software (virus’s & worms)
for business continuity, including site and application recovery plans, supporting backup and recovery processes, offsite
storage, alternate processing strategies, and crisis management plans
retention, archival, and disposal standards and procedures
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centers and computer rooms must have good physical security and strong
protection from disaster and security threats, whether natural or caused by
other reasons, in order to minimize the extent of loss and disruption.
media containing business essential and/or mission critical information must be
housed off-site at a safe distance from the main site in order to avoid damage
arising from a disaster at the main site.
With the IT audit tool ensure the company places all information systems in a secure environment or attended by staff
to prevent unauthorized access.
in possession of laptop, portable computer, personal digital assistant, or
mobile computing devices for business purposes must safeguard the equipment in
his/her possession, and must not leave the equipment unattended without proper
equipment must not be taken off the property without proper control.
Physical Access Control
list of persons who are authorized to gain access to data centers, computer
rooms or other areas supporting critical activities, where computer equipment
and data are located or stored, must be kept up-to-date and be reviewed
access keys, cards, passwords, etc. for entry to any of the computer systems
and networks must be physically secured or subject to well-defined and strictly
enforced security procedures.
visitors to data centers or computer rooms must be monitored at all times by an
For this IT Audit Tool and Guide look to make sure automatic
protection features (e.g. password protected screen saver, keyboard lock) in
servers, computer terminals, workstations or microcomputers are activated
if there has been no activity for a predefined period of time. This prevents an illegal
system access attempt. Alternatively, the logon session and connection should
be terminated. Also, user workstations should be switched off, if appropriate,
before leaving work for the day or before a prolonged period of inactivity.
staff with separate personal offices that can be directly accessed from a public
area and contain Information System(s) should lock the doors when these offices
are not in use.
display screen of an Information System on which classified information can be
viewed must be carefully positioned so that unauthorized persons cannot readily
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For this IT audit tool assure the company defines a strict password policy that details at least, minimum
password length, initial assignment, restricted words and format, password life
cycle, and include guidelines on suitable system and user password selection.
must not be shared or divulged unless necessary (e.g., helpdesk assistance,
shared PC and shared files). The risk of sharing passwords is that it increases
the probability of security being compromised. If passwords must be shared,
explicit approval from the IT Security Officer must be obtained. In addition,
the shared passwords should be changed promptly when the need no longer exists
and should be changed frequently if sharing is required on a regular basis.
must always be well protected when held in storage. Passwords must be encrypted
when transmitted over an un-trusted communication network. Compensating
controls must be applied to reduce the risk exposure of Information Systems to
an acceptable level if encryption is not available.
During IT audit tool assure the company prohibits staff from capturing or otherwise obtaining passwords, decryption
keys, or any other access control mechanism, which could permit unauthorized
vendor-supplied default passwords must be changed before any Information System
is put into operation.
passwords must be promptly changed if they are suspected of being compromised,
or disclosed to vendors for maintenance and support.
Network Access Control
approval from the IT Security Officer is required to connect an Information
System with another Information System under the control of another entity. The
security level of the Information System being connected must not be
entities must define policies relating to the logging of activities of
Information Systems under their control according to the business needs and
Within the IT audit tool assure the company keeps logs that provide sufficient information to support comprehensive audits of
the effectiveness of, and compliance of security measures.
must be retained for a period commensurate with their usefulness as an audit
tool. During this period, such logs must be secured such that they cannot be
modified, and can only be read by authorized persons.
must not be used to profile the activity of a particular user unless it relates
to a necessary audit activity supported by the IT Security Officer.
checking on log records, especially on system/application where classified
information is processed/stored, must be performed, not only on the
completeness but also the integrity of the log records. All system and
application errors which are suspected to be triggered as a result of security
breaches must be reported and logged.
synchronization should be configured to keep the clocks of Information Systems
Overall Data Confidentiality
about Information Systems that may compromise the security of those systems must
not be disclosed to users, or any other third parties, except on a need-to-know
basis and only if authorized by the IT Security Officer.
For this IT audit tool, assure the company's staff
must not disclose information about the individuals, business entities or
specific systems that have suffered from damages caused by computer crimes and
computer abuses, or the specific methods used to exploit certain system
vulnerabilities, to any people other than those who are handling the incident
and responsible for the security of such systems, or authorized investigators
involved in the investigation of the crime or abuse.
must not disclose to any unauthorized persons the nature and location of the
Information Systems, and the information system controls that are in use or the
way in which they are implemented.
stored information classified as confidential or above must be encrypted.
entities must comply with handling in relation to Information Systems security
including, but not limited to, storage, transmission, processing, and
destruction of classified information.
For this IT audit tool, assure the company's backup
and recovery procedures are well documented, properly implemented, and
must be carried out at regular intervals.
activities must be reviewed regularly.
must be stored off-site at a remote distance from the main site, and be
protected. Backup media should also be protected against unauthorized access,
misuse, or corruption during transportation.
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development staff must include security planning and implement the appropriate
security measures and controls for systems under development according to the
systems' security requirements.
and listings of applications must be properly maintained and restricted on a
For this IT audit tool assure the company, completes and reviews formal
testing on the security controls must be performed prior to
integrity of an application must be maintained with appropriate security
controls such as version control mechanisms and separation of environments for
development, system testing, acceptance testing, and live operation.
development staff must not be permitted to access production information unless
Configuration Management & Control
control procedures for requesting and approving program/system changes must be
affecting existing security protection mechanisms must be carefully considered.
For this IT audit tool, assure the company installs all computer equipment and software under control and audit.
entities must ensure that staffs are formally advised of the impact of security
changes and usage on Information Systems.
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network addresses, configurations and related system or network information must
not be publicly released without the approval of the concerned entity.
internal networks with connections to other networks or publicly accessible
computer networks must be properly protected.
measures must be in place to prevent unauthorized remote access to the systems
For this IT audit tool, assure the company prohibits staff from connecting workstations to an external network by means of any
communication device, such as dial-up modem, wireless interface, or broadband
link. Workstations are simultaneously connected to a local area network
(LAN) or another internal
communication network then approval occurs with the concerned entity.
must not connect any unauthorized Information System device to an Information
System without prior approval as designated by the entity.
configuration and administration of information / communication systems is
required and must be reviewed regularly.
and links made to other networks must not compromise the security of
information processed at another, and vice versa.
information must be encrypted when transmitted over an un-trusted communication
Secret/Secret information must be transmitted only under encryption and inside
an isolated LAN approved by the IT
Internet access must be either through centrally arranged Internet gateways or the
entities own Internet gateway conforming to internal security standards. In
circumstances where this is not feasible or having regard to the mode of use,
i.e., such modes of use may include, for example, Internet surfing, email
exchange, and the use of official, portable computers while on business. The
relevant standalone machines must still be protected by any applicable security
entities may consider allowing Internet access through stand-alone machines,
provided that there is an approval and control mechanism at an appropriate
level within the business entity.
For this IT audit tool, the company should consider the value versus inconvenience of implementing
technologies to blocking non-business web sites. The ability to connect with a
specific web site does not in itself imply that users of systems are permitted
to visit that site.
entity must clearly define and communicate to users its policy in relation to
acceptable Internet usage.
software and files downloaded from the Internet must be screened and verified
with anti-virus software.
should not execute mobile code or software downloaded from the Internet unless
the code is from a known and trusted source.
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entity must clearly define and communicate to users its policy in relation to
acceptable email usage.
administrators must establish and maintain a systematic process for the
recording, retention, and destruction of electronic mail messages and
email must be screened for computer viruses and malicious codes.
email address lists containing entries for authorized users must be properly
maintained and protected from unauthorized access and modification.
For this IT audit tool assure the company's email
transmission of classified information must be transmitted only on an
Information System approved by the IT Security Officer.
from suspicious sources should not be opened or forwarded.
Protection Against Computer Virus and Malicious Code
software must always be enabled on all local area network servers and personal
computers, and computers connecting to the internal network via remote access.
For this IT audit tool, assure the company protects their Information Systems from computer viruses and
malicious codes. Virus signatures, malicious code definitions as well as their
detection and repair engines must be updated regularly and whenever necessary.
media and files from unknown source or origin must not be used unless the
storage media and files have been checked and cleaned for computer viruses and
must not intentionally write, generate, copy, propagate, execute or be involved
in introducing computer viruses or malicious codes.
entities must implement proper measures to protect their wireless or mobile
computing devices against computer viruses and malicious codes.
Software and Patch Management
and networks must only run software that comes from trustworthy sources.
unauthorized application software must be loaded onto an Information System
without prior approval from IT Security Officer as designated by the entity.
For this IT audit tool, assure the company protects their Information Systems from known vulnerabilities by
applying the latest security patches recommended by the product vendors or
implementing other compensating security measures.
security patches are applied, proper risk evaluation and testing should be
conducted to minimize undesirable effects to Information Systems.
For this IT audit tool, assure the company documents, monitors, and controls wireless networks with connection
to internal networks.
authentication and encryption security controls must be employed to protect
data communication over wireless networks with connection to internal networks.
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Systems security risk assessments for information systems and production
applications must be performed at least once every two years. A security risk
assessment must also be performed prior to major enhancements and changes
associated with these systems or applications.
of software and programs for security risk assessment analysis must be
restricted and controlled.
Systems must be periodically evaluated by auditors of an independent and
trusted party to determine the minimum set of controls required to reduce risk
to an acceptable level.
of compliance of computer and network security policies must be performed
For this IT audit tool, assure the company use
of software and programs for security audit analysis must be restricted and
Security Incident Management
Security Incident Monitoring
entities must establish an incident detection and monitoring mechanism to
detect, contain and ultimately prevent security incidents.
For this IT audit tool, assure the company ensures that system logs and other supporting information are
retained for the proof and tracing of security incidents.
Security Incident Response
For this IT audit tool assure the company establishes, documents and maintains a security incident
handling/reporting procedure for their Information Systems.
must be made aware of the security incident handling/reporting procedure that
is in place and must observe and follow it accordingly.
network or systems software malfunctions, information security alerts,
warnings, suspected vulnerabilities, and the like, and suspected network
security problems, must be reported immediately only to the responsible party
according to the incident handling procedure.
follow-up actions are required on suspected system intrusion according to
security incident handling/reporting procedures.
What To Do Prior To An Audit
Review Prior Audit Documentation
review any prior audit report, whether issued internally or by an external
audit firm, and ensure that any actions to be taken/plans to be implemented
have indeed been accomplished. Auditors usually start an engagement by looking
for prior audit reports, and associated prior audit comments (they usually have
copies on file). If they exist (prior reports and prior comments), and if they
haven’t been addressed, more than likely a "repeat comment" will be
written. This is probably one of the worst things that can happen from the eyes
of one’s executive leadership team. Their perception of this condition is that
"sound business practices" are either not in place, are very loose,
or focus is very weak. This situation usually results in either a management
change and/or a reprimand.
may not have looked at all areas of the business during the previous review.
Therefore, be aware of potential new areas of concern that one may have
overlooked. Auditors keep extensive work papers on each audit for use by other
audit personnel. Just because there is a different audit crew doesn’t mean
they're not aware of any prior concerns.
is very subjective. What one auditor may not see as a concern another may,
that’s just the way it is.
Auditor-In-Charge sets the real tone of the audit. Find out who that is and
observe them closely.
IT audit tool and guides are continually updated for technology. During auditor office time,
auditors are generally assigned a subject to review and update accordingly.
Therefore, don’t become complacent because one passed a prior audit, there very
well could be a new twist the next time around.
A smart auditor never asks a
question that he/she doesn't already know the answer to, or have a fairly good
idea what it should be.
Well-meaning employees can be the worst enemy during an
audit while having all the right intentions. Personnel should be honest, but
should only answer the question(s) they are asked. The worst thing they can do
is to try to impress the auditors with their individual knowledge, or try to
answer a question when they’re not qualified to do so. Auditing experience has
shown that 15% to 20% of audit comments come from employees making voluntary
statements during idle conversation with an auditor.
The role of the local coordinator is crucial in monitoring the
auditor’s activities; maintaining records of exhibits; sitting in on auditor
interviews to ensure that scope creep is not occurring. At a minimum, a focal
point such as this will give one the perception that one’s company or one’s
department is in control.
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Ensure computer rooms,
phone closets, and communication hub rooms remain secured.
auditors in and out as visitors.
not allow auditors free access to restricted areas; escort them.
the auditors a tour of the area and acquaint them with the facilities such as
phones, restrooms, coffee area, vending machines, cafeteria, evacuation routes,
etc. Introduce them to the appropriate personnel.
be courteous to the auditors, not overly friendly, but polite.
sure that all meeting attendees (there are usually kick-off, fact-finding,
agreement-in-fact, and closing meetings) are punctual (meetings are usually
pre-arranged), attentive, prepared, and bring all requested deliverables.
only what has been requested for each meeting.
a log of exhibits turned over to the auditors.
For this IT audit tool, answer
only the questions that are asked, and never volunteer information or try to
impress the auditors.
informal conversations to a minimum and do not joke around. If one does not
know the answer to a question, seek out those individuals who do know; do not
guess or attempt to bluff.
problems or major disagreements occur, do not get into a confrontational
situation with the auditors. Be sure to engage the appropriate management team.
there are compensating controls that have been instituted, be sure to mention
them during discussions of that, and only that, particular issue.
to fix audit findings while the audit is in progress and document what one did
to fix the concern; be specific. It is important that the local staff fully
understand why a comment was written, and what measures are/were required to
implement the necessary controls.
from buying the auditor’s soft drinks, lunches, or encouraging after hours
associations. Avoid any occurrence of impropriety between the local staff,
audit personnel, customers, etc.
This article provides the key elements to include in an IT audit program. It considers current situation assesment, high level needs, organizational needs, PC user issues, manager responsibility, contigency, crisis, risk and a host of other issues.
This article provides guidelines for creating a computer protection security policy at your workplace. It covers general principles, passwords, copyrights, licensing, protection, prevention, and security