Are Your Internal Auditors Equipped to Assess Cybersecurity Threats?

Internal audit plays a vital role in the ongoing battle against hackers. New cyber threats emerge on a regular basis, leaving your audit team constantly chasing the latest research.  

Every year, the personal information of millions of Americans is exposed due to data breaches that happen at organizations of all sizes. Mobile malware is on the rise, and ransomware is still a serious threat with Norton reporting that 86% of people saying they may have experienced a phishing scam. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the pace of change in the cybersecurity industry, particularly in terms of financial and healthcare compliance requirements around data storage and transfers. With all the complexity surrounding cyber risk in the organization, are internal auditors fully equipped to uncover challenges and present solutions to keep your business safe?

The Role of Internal Audit

According to the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), internal auditing “helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes”. Based on a mindset of organizational sustainability, internal auditors must have a detailed understanding of the processes, cultures and systems of an organization that ensures controls are in place to mitigate risks to the business. These internal consultants are responsible for staying up-to-date on emerging technology while offering objective recommendations for improvement and security to executive leadership.

Effective Internal Audit Requires Cybersecurity Expertise

Internal auditors are experts at determining whether people, processes and technology are fully aligned to mitigate risks within the organization. However, cybersecurity risk can quickly become uncontrollable if auditors are not fully trained or aware of the internal and external pressures that are growing in today’s business world. Creating a risk assessment that delves deep into the possibilities of attack starts with a complete understanding of the current risks and how each element of your technology could be vulnerable to attack. This is an area that might be relatively new for internal auditors that are more familiar with a traditional audit structure, leaving your organization exposed to risks that are difficult to anticipate or measure. When auditors partner with respected cybersecurity authorities, both entities are able to be more active in making recommendations that will benefit your organization and reduce the possibility of loss to your business.

The Third Line of Defense for Your Business

Many experts now define three levels of cybersecurity defense for your business with the primary defense your business and IT functions with your IT governance and policies a close second. The new third line of defense for your business is composed of your internal audit team, a critically important measure that can help raise awareness to your executive leadership and board of the value of additional security and a way to help justify any additional costs. Having a solid internal auditing strategy also allows your organization to be in compliance with government regulations that can vary by industry. With this powerful third line of defense in place, your business is more likely to identify and prioritize risks and ensure that cybersecurity is formally integrated into your audit planning. Internal audit teams are also a capable ally for ensuring that internal communication and coordination are in place at all levels of the organization.

Cyberattack is a serious risk for organizations of all sizes, making it a critical factor that internal auditors must consider during an annual review. If you have received notice that you need to improve your cybersecurity posture, the experts at CIO Advise can help you work through recommendations in a way that provides the highest level of protection for your business. Contact us today at 833-CIO-ADVS to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our security professionals.