IT Audit Checklist

Information Technology Audit Checklist

If you’ve recently embarked on the journey of taking control of your organization’s technology, you’re in good company. More small to mid-sized businesses throughout Texas are understanding the importance of technology for propelling business growth while staying ahead of competitors. If you’re uncertain about the first step to take towards maximizing your business’s technology platform, an IT audit offers a great place to start by helping you assess your strengths, weaknesses, and needs while clarifying your goals.

In this post, we’ll outline a basic IT checklist you can use to audit your existing network, so you’re prepared to make optimal business decisions going forward.

Planning an Audit

When preparing to perform an IT audit, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) recommends that you follow these five fundamental steps.

1. Determine Your Subject

Begin by clarifying what processes, infrastructure, or policies you want to audit. The target of your audit could be as broad as IT or as specific as threat intelligence. After all, you can’t successfully perform an audit if your team doesn’t know exactly what you’re targeting to begin with.

2. Define an Objective

Once you’ve pinpointed the target of your audit, you need to next understand the driving motivator behind performing an audit in the first place. Fundamentally, what do you hope to achieve in order to make the audit worthwhile? Again, the answer to this question could be as broad as, “We want to understand where technology is slowing us down” to “We want to test our intrusion detection strategies.”

3. Establish a Scope

In order to establish the scope of your audit, create an outline of the employees, systems, functions, and policies that are relevant to gaining insight into your overarching objective. By establishing the scope of your audit beforehand, you can prevent the project from getting out of control by limiting your review to a single application, system, or a specific time period.

4. Pre-Audit Planning

If you’re conducting a risk-based audit, conducting a risk assessment is a critical piece of understanding the threats relevant to your operations. By outlining potential risks and their likelihood, your team can prioritize audit strategies accordingly.

After taking the time to understand risks, identify all relevant resources that are needed to successfully perform the audit.

5. Start Collecting Data

By now, your team should be ready to start collecting all data relevant to conducting an audit. Some key activities at this step include:

  • Identifying and obtaining departmental policies, standards, and guidelines
  • Identifying regulatory compliance requirements
  • Identifying individuals to interview
  • Identifying methods to perform the evaluation
  • Developing audit tools and methods to test and verify controls
  • Determining criteria for assessment
  • Defining a methodology to evaluate and check the accuracy of your results

Post-Audit Reporting

Once you’ve collected all relevant data for the scope of your audit, it’s time to turn that data into valuable insights. Fortunately, there’s plenty of industry-specific auditing software designed to help you accomplish just that. A variety of auditing software solutions offer simplified reporting tools to transform complex data into relevant information for your team.

Need help? Partnering with a managed security service provider (MSSP) like I.T. Works can make a critical difference when auditing your IT strategies. We’re committed to helping your business understand strengths and weaknesses in order to expand your technology platform.

Contact our experts today to learn more about how a comprehensive IT audit can identify potential opportunities for growth while protecting your organization from tomorrow’s threats.

Bring Your Own Device Policy

Developing a Bring Your Own Device Policy

It’s becoming increasingly rare to encounter someone who doesn’t own a cell phone. That means almost all of your employees have a powerful tool in their pockets at all times—one that’s also a potential source of distraction or abuse. If you’re open to the idea of using these devices to benefit your organization, developing a bring your own device (BYOD) policy is a critical first step. By adopting a BYOD policy, your organization can prioritize a more mobile workforce for a minimal investment while ensuring that your team members are using their devices to maximize productivity.

With these considerations in mind, here are four key factors to consider as you start developing a BYOD policy for your team.

Clarify Which Devices Are Allowed

The term “mobile device” encompasses a variety of electronics that your team likely already has access to on a daily basis. These mobile devices include cell phones, tablets, laptops, smart watches, handheld gaming consoles, portable music players, and digital cameras.

As you begin developing a BYOD plan, the first step is clarifying which devices are allowed and which aren’t. By outlining what’s acceptable, you can avoid the risk of policy loopholes being exploited. Along with defining which devices are acceptable to use, are there particular areas or hours of the day when they aren’t allowed to? If so, make sure the policy explicitly states any and all rules as well as extenuating circumstances.

Implement Security Policies

Once you’ve established which devices are allowed, where they’re permitted, and when they can be accessed, the next step is ensuring that these devices don’t leave your business’s network vulnerable to security breaches. Mobile security measures can be as simple as requiring that employees use passwords and lock screens to secure their devices. You can even require that they install security software to continuously monitor devices for threats.

Establish Boundaries

Since employees still retain ownership of the mobile devices they bring to work, you need to denote where your responsibilities begin and end. Your BYOD policy should explain what level of support—if any—your IT team is willing to offer for employee-owned devices.

How far should your team go to ensure that devices are able to connect to your network? Will you provide temporary devices in the event that an employee’s primary device is being repaired or replaced? By clarifying your responsibilities beforehand, you can save a lot of time in trouble when extenuating circumstances arise later on.

Outline Acceptable Application Use

On top of clarifying which devices are allowed, you also need to decide which applications are permitted during business hours. If using social media isn’t a part of the job, you may want to consider whether you want employees using social media at work.

Beyond apps that present potential distractions, apps can also create potential security vulnerabilities on devices with sensitive company data. Being mindful of which apps your employees are using at work is the first step to ensuring that they have the tools to focus on the task at hand while protecting your company’s data.

Want to learn more about how our network security services, complete with a network security assessment, can help solidify your business’s network defenses? Contact our experts to get started today.

What to Look for in an MSP Contract

Finding the ideal managed service provider (MSP) empowers your organization with the flexibility and freedom to focus on mission-critical tasks. After all, leveraging and maintaining the latest technological developments like cloud computing and disaster recovery has become a full-time job that often requires a team of tech experts. When you choose an MSP for your information technology needs, your team can stay focused on more critical day-to-day operations like client engagement and growing your Houston business.

If you’ve found yourself searching for the right MSP partner for the first time, it helps to have a general outline of what your technology needs and goals include. From there, you can start homing in on the service providers that hit those key points. Once you’ve narrowed your list down to a few potential MSP partners and it comes down contract-level negotiations, here are some key factors to consider before signing the bottom line.

What’s Included (and What’s Not)?

One of the key benefits of an MSP solution is that you get a comprehensive technology platform that includes packages like managed security and cloud services for one fixed monthly fee. At the same time, however, you need to make sure that your contract includes all of the services your organization needs. For example, if server virtualization is a critical part of keeping your business running smoothly, make sure that virtualization services won’t end up costing your business additional money.

Another vital part of any MSP contract is emergency response timelines. Is around-the-clock emergency support included in the agreement? Or will you have to pay additional fees if your network needs emergency service outside of your MSP’s regular business hours? Understanding how your MSP plans to respond to network emergencies is essential to maximizing the value of your contract without any surprises later on.

Third-Party Vendors

Another fundamental benefit of partnering with an MSP is that they manage and leverage vendor relationships for you. With a team of experts handling vendor management, your organization gains access to the latest technology for the best value in the industry. Your contract should provide a clear outline of the vendors, hardware, and services that your MSP is expected to manage on your behalf. At the same time, if your MSP plans to outsource any of your services, these third-party relationships should also be stipulated in writing.

Compliance Requirements

If you work in a regulated industry like finance or healthcare, your organization is required to follow stricter privacy standards than other businesses. As a result, you need an MSP partner that specializes not only in meeting those standards but exceeding them. Industry regulations change and are updated regularly, so having a partner that specializes in compliance for your industry is essential if you want your network to remain compliant at all times.

Cancellation Stipulations

Some MSPs try to lock businesses into long-term service contracts with complicated and expensive cancellation requirements. In our experience, however, the more an MSP believes in the quality of the services, the looser their cancellation policies. If an MSP tries to lock you in for a long-term contract, and you’ve never worked with them before, don’t be afraid to negotiate for a shorter term contract or no cancellation fee.

Get Your Estimate Today

If you’re shopping around for the optimal MSP partner, contact the tech experts at I.T. Works today for an estimate. We’ll work with you to understand your unique technology needs and goals to build a cost-effective technology platform that propels growth.