Too often, audits are performed on one process, one category, or one system: Earning Commissions, Windows Servers, or Wire Transfer. Each one of those is a separate silo (one for oats, one for corn, one for rice).
Tag Archives: Audit
The other day I was in a meeting to discuss a new analytics project and discovered the team had no end goal.
When the discussion started with the software to be used, I knew they were already off track.
A looooooong time ago, Leeann asked me to write a post about blogging about internal audit, so here goes. Most of this post applies to blogging on any subject, too.
First of all, there is a dearth of good internal audit blogs, and even less good IT audit blogs. So if you’re thinking about, we sure could use you in the blogsphere!
Writing a blog is hard work, and you often get tired of it. Life finds a way to get in the way. This is my 11th year of the blog (see the first post here), which, ironically, was written by skyyler. Fortunately, we’ve gotten better since that first year.
Blogging about internal audit is like a moon shining in a dark place… here’s my 10 tips…
It was a great experience for me.
Well, sort of. No one likes being audited (ahem). But it gave me a fresh perspective of how others feel when I audit them.
This is the first of 3 posts; this post contains some background info on the project that was audited, and the second one discusses the audit and the results, and in the third post, I describe my perspective on the whole thing, and some takeaways.
Does the Process X team provide metrics around their process?” I asked.
“Yes,” the most senior auditor replied, showing me the web page where the Process X metrics were displayed.
After reviewing the page briefly, I said, “I see they do metrics by month. You have a year’s data; are you planning to understand how they prepare their metrics and re-calculate them to see if you get the same numbers?”
I looked at the third page of the handout and asked, “What is this?”
“A list of Active Directory (AD) groups and the user IDs in each group. I searched AD for any group containing the system name,” the junior auditor said, “and identified these 6 groups. I then downloaded all the members of these groups from AD into Excel.”
I recently met with a team of auditors to give them input on what data profiling would be appropriate to perform. And what analytics might be insightful.
This is Part 1 of a 4-part Case File series that describes how real auditors tried to apply questionable methods to auditing and data profiling. Do not try these methods at home or work. Don’t even dream about them, awake or asleep.
Test how much you know about automation technologies by taking the job automation quiz at Financial Management magazine.
If you’re not familiar with agile methods, check out the first 5 topics listed here (just click Next at the bottom of each page; the topics are quick to the point and full of pictures).
Briefly, agile projects are performed in cycles, or iterations, rather than in a long, linear-waterfall fashion, which is: do all planning, then field work, then reporting. Each iteration of the project creates some value and includes feedback, which is used in the next iteration to increase the value of the project.
In the previous post, Create a Team for Audit Analytics? Part 2, I explored the pros and cons of expecting all auditors to develop a level of data and analytic proficiency.
These auditors would continue to do audit testing that involves analytics as well as testing that does not involve analytics. In addition to keeping up their business skills, they would be learning and upgrading their data analytic skills.
In the first post of this series, I reviewed some of the pluses and minuses of creating a dedicated analytics team.
However, a third option exists, which is sort of a hybrid between having dedicated analytic auditors doing all the analytic work and requiring everyone to increase and develop their data and analytic skills.
Let’s explore the hybrid method in this post, and wrap up the series with a few final thoughts.
This is the third post of a 3-part series…
In the previous post, Create a Team for Audit Analytics? Part 1, I explored the pros and cons of developing an analytics team.
This team consists of analytic auditors who are dedicated to analytic projects; they would NOT typically manage audits or testing that did not include analytics.
In this post, let’s explore another option for managing and growing analytics in an audit department — expecting all auditors to develop a level of data and analytic proficiency.
This is the second post of a 3-part series…
Or should we expect all auditors to develop some levels of analytics proficiency?
Of course, this question often comes a bit further down the trail on the analytics journey, but I think the sooner it is decided, the better.
This is the first post of a 3-part series…
At least on one major point, anyway. And it’s a big one.
As the tombstone reads, this point is D.O.A (dead on arrival, or more specifically, dead on analytics).
The article, Building a data analytics program, requires IIA membership to view, and is located at https://iaonline.theiia.org/2017/Pages/Building-a-Data-Analytics-Program.aspx (that’s actually good, as it means a lot fewer people will ever read it).
If YOUR audit department doesn’t embrace data, analytics, and automation eventually, your audit department will NOT exist.
No data, no analytics. No analytics, no automation. Eventually, no audit department.
Editor Note: This post really applies to all departments in a company, but mainly I’m addressing auditors, but you might want to read between the business lines….
By embrace, I don’t mean have one or two auditors working on this. I mean the entire department.
Before you cite all the regulatory requirements mandating the existence of an audit department in companies, having an audit department in name only won’t cut it.
Having an inept audit department will not be acceptable to regulators, and it shouldn’t be acceptable to company management either. Or Audit Committees!
Companies need skilled and efficient auditors that can do the heavy lifting, and this need will only increase.
In this post, I want to expand on a problem I mentioned in an earlier post , 10 Signs Mgmt Doesn’t Really Support Analytics.
Audit management too often thinks that once a process or an audit is automated, ALL auditor/staff hours previously spent performing that process can be reassigned elsewhere.
That is not the case at all.
In either case, its obvious that analytics isn’t very important to your management.
Which is one of the points I made in my post, 10 Signs Mgmt Doesn’t Really Support Analytics.
So far, I have encountered very few audit departments that track meaningful metrics about their analytics.
Counting the number of projects that include analytics isn’t enough.
- Does NOT knows what it takes to get analytics off the ground
- Believes that analytics multiply like rabbits, naturally
- Is NOT willing to make the adjustments required to deliver and sustain real value.
When internal auditors (or those pretending to be such) do poor work and don’t follow the appropriate audit and IT standards, they are unprofessional. However, I put the blame at the feed of audit management.
Cloud security if often cloudy because it’s not on premise where you can control it easier.
That means you may have powerful user IDs in the cloud that your security team knows nothing about, which means….
Since some of you are newer to the blog, I thought I’d bring a couple of my favorite posts to your attention.
Most of the team deployed to the 2 departments and started emptying wastebaskets in the ‘wastebasket audit‘ exercise, collecting all the trash in large carts on wheels.
Two others were posted as look-outs in the main hallways outside the target department.
I carried my black bag of tools and approached THE door.
I pulled out my favorite flat-head screwdriver. Originally, I was going to remove the closing arm at the top of the door and then pry the hinge pins out of the hinges.
That wasn’t the only move that was questionable…
First, why do you need to be dauntless?
Because you’re going to need to obtain your data from a number of different sources; the bigger your company, the more likely you’ll need to call on and question more than a handful of people.
Because comparing and tracking all the servers that are on one list, but not another can be a challenge.
Because it his highly LIKELY that you WILL find something and the server team will not be happy.
- Basics of Web
- Basics of HTTP
- Detection of common web vulnerabilities:
- Basics of fingerprinting
- and more! (like Linux Host Review)
Or do you take into account other factors that might affect the risk?
What if one of the factors is an existing audit issue that has not been remediated?
If you need to read about how to be an irritating auditor, you obviously haven’t been auditing very long. According to most auditees, that quality comes with the territory, right? I hope not!
- Application ID
- Application role or group
- Membership in an local server group, Active Directory (AD) group, or UNIX Group
- Access to the application’s share and/or folder on the server
- Database ID
- Database role, including access permissions (read/write)
- Other permission (from a home-grown application code or enterprise identify management system)
Full disclosure: I have the CISA, but not the CIA. Back when the CIA was 4 exams, I studied for all the CIA exams except the financial exam, but ended up not taking any of the exams. I also have the CISSP.
IT admins and IT auditors often don’t see eye-to-eye, and they don’t usually think their goals are similar.
The IT auditor just has to work a little harder to convince the IT admin of that. I’ve worn both hats, so I know it can be done.
A new IT auditor needs some help dealing with database patching issues and how far you need to dive into technology during an IT audit.
Take a moment to read his comment and add your thoughts. I’ve put in my 2 cents. Let’s get a good discussion going.
I think any auditor can chime in, as audit scope and audit limitations are not unique to IT audit.
PSPad is a great text editor and search tool, so by default, it’s a great audit tool, and it’s free. It can also handle a million lines of text–literally. Are you interested yet? It is also a great file diff/compare tool I’ve ever seen.
PSPad works with text files, such as those ending in TXT or CSV, or any text-based file (like an ini file). It works with DOC files too.
I’ll explain how to do the following with PSPad:
- Search a file (find all lines containing X)
- List all occurrences/matches of a search term
- Export a list of occurrences
- Compare 2 documents (diff)
- Download & install PSPad
It’s getting to the point where some audit directors are saying, “No bad audit reports allowed.” In other words, don’t shoot the messenger, just the message. What follows is an experience from one of my audit colleagues…
First, a couple “I know” statements…I know auditors are supposed to be helpful and friendly. I know auditors are supposed to add value. I know auditors need to be careful about giving only bad news; we should also note in our report what the auditee is doing right (if anything). I know that it’s hard for auditees to get hammered again and again by audit reports.
May is Audit Awareness Month, so if you want to host an event to promote audit at your organization, you’re short on time.
I wrote about this last year, and all the links on that post are still good, so see May = Audit Awareness Month for ideas.
Hey, I’m recycling last year’s post, so this must be a GREEN blog!
If you haven’t determined how server virtualization changes your audit plans, you better get moving. I’m not just talking about a virtualization audit (more on that later), but the audits that you typically do every year or on a multi-year cycle.
For example, if every year you do an audit on all networks, servers, applications, and databases that host your key financial reporting or PHI systems, you’re looking at policies and procedures, configuration management, security (including patching), user access, logging, and so on. But do you first consider whether those assets run on virtualized servers?
Here’s a couple tips for making your IT audits a bit easier in the new year.
First, for those systems that don’t record the creation or deletion date of user accounts (or folders, permissions, or whatever), get a list of all accounts from IT in January. Then when you do the audit later in the year, get a new list and compare it with the January list. The new and deleted accounts will jump out at you.
Here’s my list of IT/security basics that I think IT auditors ought to know. If you can’t understand and audit these items, you do not know enough about technology to avoid having the wool pulled over your irises (not matter how good an auditor you are). The list is in no particular order.
If you’re a CISA or CISSP and you don’t know the following, I think you have some work to do.
If you’re looking for FREE audit work plans, AuditNet.org is probably your best bet.
You can get a free account that allows you to access a limited number of work plans, usually basic ones. A premium account gives you access to all content . See their Subscription Plans for more info, and note that they call work plans ‘audit templates’.
If you have an ACL support agreement, you may be able to access AuditNet for FREE!
Last time I looked, over 100 work plans were free, and a total of 2600 were available.
The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) has back-to-basics articles for new auditors (and like Dummies books, the topics can be a reference for the rest of us). Even security pros might want to read a few of these to better understand their auditors, or how those auditors should be doing their jobs.
The topics are as follows (no special order):