Internal audit plays an extremely critical role in helping organizations in the existing battle of managing and overcoming cyber threats, both by providing an independent assessment of various existing and needed controls and also in assisting the audit committee and board truly understand and accurately address the diverse cyber risks of the new digital world. IS s your internal audit function keeping pace with this rapidly changing area of risk? Are you staying current with events whilst concurrently expanding in your capacity to safeguard the security and availability of critical business information?
The threat from cyberattacks is significant and continuously evolving. Many industries are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, but some are more vulnerable than the others. Those at more risks are those industries that has potential profitability for the attackers. This could include Pharmaceutical, Healthcare, Energy & Utilities, Oil & Gas, Transportation, FMCG & Retail, Manufacturing, Banking & Financial Services Amongst Others. Attackers usually hack for data in exchange for money. In other terms, these attackers are selling the information and data that they get from attacking an organisation to another organisation or via Dark Web. The companies that are most vulnerable, have weak cyber security infrastructure and/or hold large data of their company protocols, client information and stakeholder data must strengthen its cyber security framework and internal audit plays an increasingly critical role in this process.
Many audit committees and boards have set stringent expectations for internal audit to understand, assess and improve on the organization’s capabilities in managing these associated risks. A cyber security audit is designed to be a comprehensive review and analysis of your business’s IT infrastructure. It identifies threats and vulnerabilities, exposing weaknesses and high-risk practices. Through an effective cyber security audit, internal auditors will help organizations chart the best course of action to vastly improve your cyber resilience, securing your data and protecting your business across its infrastructure against cyber threats.
That said, the reality is that there is a huge gap between the existing knowledge of internal auditors on cyber risks which include how to effectively audit their cybersecurity framework, and their require level of experience and knowledge. There are so many questions that need to be answered and challenges that need to be overcome before internal auditors can add strategic value to its organization through its audit process, in protecting the organization against malicious cyber-attacks that will could damage its reputation, disrupt its operations and cause massive amount of loss of resources and credibility. Some of these questions will include:
- How can internal auditors with limited technical expertise conduct effective cyber risk assessment and distil the findings in a concise manner to audit committees?
- How can you ensure your cyber security audit scope is adequate and fit-for-purpose for your operations?
- Do you truly understand your different lines of defences and know how to strengthen them?
- How can you effectively plan and execute a comprehensive cyber security audit program?
- How can you best assess the effectiveness of your controls, policies and procedures as part of a complete roadmap to auditing cybersecurity?
- How do you create a clear diagram of your network assets to get a head start of your cybersecurity assessment?
- How can you most effectively review your information security policies so that it establishes clear rules pertaining to the handling of sensitive data?
- How do you organize all of your complex cybersecurity policies in a way it’s easily understood for the entire organization?
- How do you prepare for and conduct an internal security audit?
All of these and more need to be addressed and are crucial to your cyber security internal audit framework and process. While it’s challenging, for the interests of ensuring your business interests are safeguarded, you must get it right.