Why Companies Are Increasingly Recognising IT Audit As Critical

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  •  Nov 27, 2014
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More organizations are recognizing the mission-critical nature of IT internal audit in combating security and privacy risks

Although organizations have made strides in establishing best practices for the IT audit function, many are struggling to keep pace with global IT risks amid rapidly changing technology environments, according to a joint survey from global consulting firm Protiviti and ISACA.

The global survey reflects the sentiments of more than 1,300 IT audit executives and professionals worldwide.

"Concerns over cybersecurity, industry disruptors and regulatory compliance have moved many organizations, and audit committees in particular, to become more engaged in the IT audit function," said David Brand, a Protiviti managing director and the firm's global IT audit leader. "We see some positive trends in our results, notably in the number of designated IT audit directors and their regular attendance at audit committee meetings. However, we also see significant gaps to be addressed, including the frequency with which IT audit risk assessments are conducted."

Top technology challenges
The top ten global IT challenges are according to the survey are:

IT security and privacy/cybersecurity
Resource/staffing/skills challenges
Emerging technology and infrastructure changes: transformation, innovation, disruption
Regulatory compliance
Budgets and controlling costs
IT governance and risk management
Big data and analytics
Vendor, third-party and outsourcing risks
Cloud computing/ virtualization
Bridging IT and the business

"Companies cannot ignore the significant security and privacy risks that face their business today," said Brand. "Based on the survey results, more organizations are recognizing the mission-critical nature of IT internal audit in combating these risks, yet many companies are simply not institutionalizing the processes needed to support this function."

According to the survey, more than half of the largest public companies surveyed have a designated IT Audit Director or equivalent position within their organizations, and 48 percent reported that these individuals regularly attend audit committee meetings – a number that has doubled over the past three years.

Additionally, respondents indicated that their audit committees have increased their involvement in the IT risk assessment process, with 20 percent reporting significant involvement as compared to 14 percent in 2013.

"The increased resources and attention to IT audit is a positive sign that companies of all sizes around the world are recognizing the significant benefits of this critical function," said Robert E. Stroud, CGEIT, CRISC, international president of ISACA and vice president of strategy and innovation at CA Technologies. "Even though organizations have different goals and operate in different marketplaces, there are many common pain points and risks, such as fraud, cybersecurity incidents, rising costs, project success/failure, outsourcing issues and regulatory requirements that can be addressed with effective IT audit management."

The ISACA/Protiviti survey reveals a modest uptick in the number of organizations that update their IT audit risk assessment on a continual basis. However, this number still remains low – around 15 percent – for even the largest companies.

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