Information technology audit

An information technology audit, or information systems audit, is an examination of the management controls within an Information technology (IT) infrastructure. The evaluation of obtained evidence determines if the information systems are safeguarding assets, maintaining data integrity, and operating effectively 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”.



An IT audit is different from a financial statement audit. While a financial audit’s purpose is to evaluate whether an organization is adhering to standard accounting practices, the purposes of an IT audit are to evaluate the system’s internal control design and effectiveness. This includes, but is not limited to, efficiency and security protocols, development processes, and IT governance or oversight. Installing controls are necessary but not sufficient to provide adequate security. People responsible for security must consider if the controls are installed as intended, if they are effective if any breach in security has occurred and if so, what actions can be done to prevent future breaches. These inquiries must be answered by independent and unbiased observers. These observers are performing the task of information systems auditing. In an Information Systems (IS) environment, an audit is an examination of information systems, their inputs, outputs, and processing. [1]
The primary functions of an IT audit are to evaluate the systems that are in place to guard an organization’s information. Specifically, information technology audits are used to evaluate the organization’s ability to protect its information assets and to properly dispense information to authorized parties. The IT audit aims to evaluate the following:

Will the organization’s computer systems be available for the business at all times when required? (known as availability) Will the information in the systems be disclosed only to authorized users? (known as security and confidentiality) Will the information provided by the system always be accurate, reliable, and timely? (measures the integrity) In this way, the audit hopes to assess the risk to the company’s valuable asset (its information) and establish methods of minimizing those risks.

Also Known As: Information Systems Audit, ADP audits, EDP audits, computer audits


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:[3]

  • Technological innovation process audit. This audit constructs 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 is 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 telecommunications 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.

A number of IT Audit professionals from the Information Assurance realm consider there to be three fundamental types of controls regardless of the type of audit to be performed, especially in the IT realm. Many frameworks and standards try to break controls into different disciplines or arenas, terming them “Security Controls“, ”Access Controls“, “IA Controls” in an effort to define the types of controls involved. At a more fundamental level, these controls can be shown to consist of three types of fundamental controls: Protective/Preventative Controls, Detective Controls and Reactive/Corrective Controls.

In an IS system, there are two types of auditors and audits: internal and external. IS auditing is usually a part of accounting internal auditing, and is frequently performed by corporate internal auditors. An external auditor reviews the findings of the internal audit as well as the inputs, processing and outputs of information systems. The external audit of information systems is frequently a part of the overall external auditing performed by a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) firm.[1]

IS auditing considers all the potential hazards and controls in information systems. It focuses on issues like operations, data, integrity, software applications, security, privacy, budgets and expenditures, cost control, and productivity. Guidelines are available to assist auditors in their jobs, such as those from Information Systems Audit and Control Association.[1]

IT Audit process

The following are basic steps in performing the Information Technology Audit Process:[4]

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


Auditing information security is a vital part of any IT audit and is often understood to be the primary purpose of an 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, servers and network infrastructure components),[5] 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.

Several training and certification organizations have evolved. Currently, the major certifying bodies, in the field, are the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA),[6] the SANS Institute (specifically, the audit specific branch of SANS and GIAC)[7] and ISACA.[8] While CPAs and other traditional auditors can be engaged for IT Audits, organizations are well advised to require that individuals with some type of IT specific audit certification are employed when validating the controls surrounding IT systems.[citation needed]

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.

Currently, there are many IT dependent companies that rely on the Information Technology in order to operate their business e.g. Telecommunication or Banking company. For the other types of business, IT plays the big part of company including the applying of workflow instead of using the paper request form, using the application control instead of manual control which is more reliable or implementing the ERP application to facilitate the organization by using only 1 application. According to these, the importance of IT Audit is constantly increased. One of the most important role of the IT Audit is to audit over the critical system in order to support the Financial audit or to support the specific regulations announced e.g. SOX.

Audit personnel


The CISM and CAP credentials are the two newest security auditing credentials, offered by the ISACA and (ISC)², respectively. Strictly speaking, only the CISA or GSNA title would sufficiently demonstrate competences regarding both information technology and audit aspects with the CISA being more audit focused and the GSNA being more information technology focused.[9]

Outside of the US, various credentials exist. For example, 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.

Professional certifications

Emerging Issues

There are also new audits being imposed by various standard boards which are required to be performed, depending upon the audited organization, which will affect IT and ensure that IT departments are performing certain functions and controls appropriately to be considered compliant. An example of such an audit is the newly minted SSAE 16.

See also

Computer Forensics



Irregularities and Illegal Acts


  1. Rainer, R. Kelly, and Casey G. Cegielski. Introduction to information systems. 3rd ed. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley ;, 2011. Print.
  3. Richard A. Goodman; Richard Arthur Goodman; Michael W. Lawless (1994). Technology and strategy: conceptual models and diagnostics. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 978-0-19-507949-4. Retrieved May 9, 2010.
  4. Davis, Robert E. (2005). IT Auditing: An Adaptive Process. Mission Viejo: Pleier Corporation. ISBN 978-0974302997.
  5. “Advanced System, Network and Perimeter Auditing”.
  6. “Institute of Internal Auditors”.
  7. “The SANS Technology Institute”.
  8. “ISACA”.
  9. Hoelzer, David (1999–2009). Audit Principles, Risk Assessment & Effective Reporting. SANS Press. p. 32.
  10. “GIAC GSNA Information”.

External links

Note: The above information is taken From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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