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Comprehensive IT Audit

Comprehensive IT Audit

By: A Staff Writer

Updated on: Mar 05, 2024

How to Conduct a Comprehensive IT Audit

How to Conduct a Comprehensive IT Audit.

For CIOs, CTOs, CISOs, and other tech leaders, periodic IT audits are not just a regulatory requirement but a proactive measure to ensure the overall health of an organization’s IT environment. An IT audit assesses the efficiency, effectiveness, and security of an organization’s technology infrastructure, applications, and processes. This exercise helps identify gaps, inefficiencies, and improvement areas that could compromise operational performance and compliance requirements. Various frameworks like COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies) are often used as the foundation for a comprehensive IT audit. Here is a 9-point checklist to guide you through a comprehensive IT audit.

How to Conduct a Comprehensive IT Audit.

1. Scope Definition

Establishing the scope ensures everyone involved understands what areas of the IT environment will be audited.


  • Identify key systems, applications, and data to be audited.
  • Set audit objectives and criteria.

Some enterprises opt to focus their audit scope on high-risk areas, as identified by frameworks like COBIT, to optimize resource allocation.

2. Assemble Audit Team

The effectiveness of an IT audit is highly dependent on the team’s expertise.


  • Identify internal and external experts.
  • Define roles and responsibilities.

IBM employs an internal team, often supplemented by external experts, to conduct its regular IT audits, thereby ensuring a balanced and comprehensive assessment.

3. Pre-audit Assessment

A pre-audit assessment provides baseline information for comparison later.


  • Conduct interviews with IT managers.
  • Review existing documentation.

Companies like Microsoft use COBIT as a baseline framework for their pre-audit assessments, allowing them to meet globally recognized best practices.

4. Risk Assessment

Risk assessment identifies potential vulnerabilities in the system.


  • List potential risks.
  • Assess the probability and impact of each risk.

The Equifax data breach of 2017, which could have been prevented through better risk assessment, led to a loss of more than $4 billion in market value.

5. Compliance Check

Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements is non-negotiable.


  • Identify applicable laws and regulations.
  • Conduct a gap analysis.

Adobe, after its 2013 data breach, revamped its compliance checks, adhering to frameworks like ISO 27001 to ensure better compliance.

6. System and Network Examination

This ensures that the IT system’s architecture and networks are robust and secure.


  • Examine hardware configurations.
  • Analyze network topology and security protocols.

Dell Technologies regularly audits its network topology as part of its IT audit, ensuring high availability and performance.

7. Process Auditing

This evaluates whether IT operations and management processes are optimized for performance and security.


  • Review process documentation.
  • Audit system monitoring and maintenance procedures.

Walmart leverages COBIT to review its IT processes, aligning them with its broader business objectives.

8. Data Integrity and Security

Ensuring data integrity and security is vital in today’s data-driven world.


  • Assess data backup and recovery protocols.
  • Evaluate access controls.

After its 2014 security breach, JP Morgan Chase conducted an audit that led to a $250 million annual cybersecurity budget.

9. Post-Audit Review

The post-audit review summarizes findings, provides recommendations, and sets the stage for remediation actions.


  • Prepare a comprehensive audit report.
  • Discuss findings and next steps with stakeholders.

After the WannaCry ransomware attack, many affected companies conducted post-audit reviews, leading to significant updates in their cybersecurity frameworks.

Conducting a comprehensive IT audit is an intricate but vital activity that enables organizations to optimize performance, enhance security, and meet compliance standards. By adhering to a systematic and detailed audit process, tech leaders can glean invaluable insights into their IT environment. Whether leveraging renowned frameworks like COBIT or tailoring an audit scope to the organization’s unique requirements, the objective remains constant: to ensure that IT serves as an enabler, rather than a hindrance, to organizational success.


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