How to undertaken an IT audit – and why you should

These days business of all shapes, sizes and industry sectors have come to depend on their IT systems and for practical purposes, it doesn’t really matter if you’re a solopreneur, an SME or a multinational corporation, the fact still remains that any issues with those IT systems will cause you at least some degree of pain.

This is the why you should undertake an IT audit (or, more accurately, regular IT audits). Essentially, these are “health checks” for your IT systems, which can alert you to current or potential problems before they become serious issues.

Here are three key issues a robust IT audit will address:

1. Confirming your current IT infrastructure

In principle, you should always have exact details of your IT infrastructure and absolutely no changes to it should be made without your knowledge or consent. Even in the best-run companies, however, this state of affairs can be more of an ideal than a reality (although the closer you can get to this the better).

Undertaking regular IT audits can help to ensure that you stay on top of your IT assets, which is your first line of defence against all kinds of issues, such as the consequences of staff innocently installing “freeware” without realising that it is only free for personal use and comes at a cost on a work computer.

2. Checking your current security

Hopefully, you will already be working on the basis that security, IT-related and otherwise, is core to the way you do business.

That’s great, but the security landscape is continually changing as old threats fade away (these days it’s pretty hard to infect a computer with a virus stored on a floppy disk) and new threats emerge.

This means that a defence system that was once as robust as it could reasonably be could now be out of date and vulnerable to attack. The WannaCry attack on the NHS is possibly the most notorious example of this. As a reminder, the attack was made possible because the NHS continued to use Windows XP long after it was considered a safe operating system.

Because of this, undertaking regular checks on the current effectiveness of your IT security is not just recommended, it is essential (particularly now we are living under GDPR).

3. Planning for the future

While you might not know exactly what the future will bring, you will hopefully have some general plans and certainly some hopes for how it will turn out. One of the great developments in IT has been the concept of scalability, with systems being flexible enough to change as required, for example, servers taking on greater or smaller loads as business cycles demand.

An IT audit can look at where you are now, look at where you want to be in the future and provide one or more suggested pathways for getting from A to B, which you can potentially adapt to suit your circumstances as you move forward.

This can be very helpful in giving you a realistic idea of costs and implementation times, which you can use to inform your decision-making process.

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