Cybersecurity and privacy issues, along with infrastructure management and emerging technologies, rank as the top technology challenges organizations face today, according to a just-released survey report from global consulting firm Protiviti and ISACA, a global business technology professional association for IT audit/assurance, governance, risk and information security professionals. The survey of 1,062 IT audit and internal audit leaders and professionals found that IT audit is also becoming more involved in major technology implementation projects within organizations.
In the survey, respondents were asked to name the top technology or business challenges their organizations face today. The top 10 responses:
- IT security and privacy/cybersecurity
- Infrastructure management
- Emerging technology and infrastructure changes – transformation, innovation, disruption
- Resource/staffing/skills challenges
- Regulatory compliance
- Budgets and controlling costs
- Cloud computing/virtualization
- Bridging IT and the business
- Project management and change management
- Third-party/vendor management
Gordon Braun, a managing director with Protiviti and global leader of the firm’s IT audit practice, says other challenges are just as critical, “from resource and skills gaps to ongoing transitions to cloud and virtual networks. Additionally, as more and more organizations rely on third parties to support critical applications and infrastructure, the need to excel at managing vendor relationships has increased dramatically. Many organizations have not sufficiently addressed maturing their vendor management practices, and the resulting business risks can be significant.”
According to the ISACA/Protiviti survey, titled A Global Look at IT Audit Best Practices, in large companies (greater than $5 billion in revenue), 26% of IT audit functions have a significant level of involvement in major technology projects, while 45% have a moderate level of involvement. IT audit is most frequently involved in the post-implementation stages (65%).
“Seeing greater involvement by IT audit in significant technology projects is a positive trend, especially considering the dynamic nature of technology and critical risks related to security and privacy,” says Christos Dimitriadis, chair of ISACA’s board of directors and group director of information security for INTRALOT. “This is also notable because a substantial percentage of IT projects tend to run over budget and behind schedule and fail to achieve the desired objectives. Having IT audit bring a mindset of risk and control to these projects can be highly advantageous.”
In a majority of organizations (55%), the IT audit director regularly attends audit committee meetings. This represents a 6-point jump from the 2015 survey, and reflects a long-term trend in the survey findings since 2012, when less than one in three IT audit directors attended audit committee meetings regularly.
“There’s no question that cybersecurity and emerging technologies are now a regular topic at the board level,” says Braun. “Audit committee members, in particular, are seeking greater assurance around critical IT risks and controls – internal audit and IT audit leaders must be prepared to demonstrate audit coverage of key areas and articulate where the highest risks remain.”
The Protiviti/ISACA study also found that among large companies, 9% conduct an IT audit risk assessment. However, a majority (55%) only do so on an annual or less-frequent basis. Considering the growing risk landscape resulting from cybersecurity threats and emerging technologies, ISACA and Protiviti suggest that more organizations consider an approach that includes continually reviewing the IT risk landscape and adjusting IT audit plans accordingly.