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Typically, the word "audit" brings up images of large organizations with employees whose sole responsibility is to visit your office and point out everything you are doing wrong. In contrast, IT assessments/audits are quite the opposite. IT assessments provide the opportunity to identify gaps within an organization's process controls, offer recommendations to correct those gaps, and ensure your environment is more mature to enable and support the organization's strategic objectives.
In other aspects of our lives, we recognize the value of frequent evaluations, such as an annual physical at the Doctor or servicing your vehicle every six months or 10,000 kilometers. Now imagine being asked to undertake a long-distance trip with a vehicle that may have never been serviced. You would be quite reluctant to do so without first having it checked to determine whether the oil, tires or other parts require repair or replacement.
Similarly, you wouldn't want to embark on a strategic journey as a company where there may be gaps in your critical business processes, procedures, ineffective controls, or infrastructure weaknesses that could lead to revenue loss, fraud, or cyber security breaches. IT assessments allow you to identify these gaps and vulnerabilities to determine what high-risk areas need to be prioritized for remediation. It can also provide a roadmap which outlines key initiatives to achieve a desired target state.
Where Should You Start?
An ITGC Detailed Assessment provides a comprehensive review of the state of the environment within your organization. This is a great place to start as it allows you to identify crucial areas of weakness and how best to remediate them through more specialized assessments such as Information Security Management Assessments, Vendor Management Assessments, NIST Cyber Security Assessments and Data Privacy & Protection Assessments.
Without these assessments, organizations are prone to inefficient and ineffective processes, increasing the risk of a data breach, in which a threat actor can easily penetrate your environment, steal or manipulate data, and compromise systems. IT assessments also help to mitigate the occurrence of:
Unauthorized access – occurs when unauthorized personnel can access sensitive data such as financial records, account balance information and modify data to reflect misleading information within general ledgers, financial statements or use the access to commit fraud. This can lead to the misappropriation of resources (funds, assets etc.) and information systems processing erroneous data, which may have severe financial repercussions.
Loss of revenue – due to a reduction in income if clients choose another organization/competitor because their personal information is stolen, or someone steals money via fraud from the entity due to inadequate controls.
Ineffective change management – promoting incorrect data to the production environment.
Security weaknesses – when individuals expose compromised systems to the environment, which allows for backdoor login, introducing vulnerabilities that threat actors, such as malware and ransomware, can exploit.
Reputational damage – negative publicity and loss of public confidence at the outset of a data breach.
Penalties and fines – increase in financial liabilities if noncompliant with regulatory requirements - as defined by the Jamaica Data Protection Act (JDPA) or, more broadly, the GDPR - due to inadequate data controls and mismanagement of data.
Data Privacy Assessments
With the November 30, 2023, deadline for organizations to reform their data processing operations to ensure compliance with the JDPA's provisions, data privacy assessments have become an indispensable instrument for evaluating an organization's day-to-day business operations against five main areas:
Privacy management – examines data governance for privacy, confidentiality, and compliance (DGPC) and determines whether an effective data management system exists.
Data management and collection – evaluates controls surrounding data in various phases of movement— during collection, in transit or at rest.
Data security – analyzes data access controls.
Third-party C&C agreements – evaluates the management of data by third parties.
Incident management and escalation – analyzes incident-management policies and procedures in the event of a cyber-attack or data breach.
When Should You Commission an IT Assessment?
It is important to understand that every organization is unique, and one organization's control methods or lack thereof may not necessarily reflect those of another. Regardless of the nature or scale of the organization, efficient IT controls are essential. Therefore, it is imperative that you act proactively, identifying potential gaps while they are still controllable and require less effort to close. Too often, companies postpone conducting these evaluations, and when they finally do, the observed gaps are so vast that resolving them demands substantial effort and resources, which can be overwhelming.
So, when should you schedule an assessment? The time is now. Symptai offers customized IT Assessments to help you identify the gaps in your IT controls and deliver the solutions to fill those gaps, enhance your processes, and get you to the maturity level you need to be. You can also rest assured that we will help you along every step of the journey.