Why You Shouldn’t End 2016 Without an IT Audit

Enterprise IT, MSP Tips
IT Audit

The end of the year is filled with lots of last minute work – and plenty of employee time off.  Not a good combo. So it’s easy to let things slide. But one item you should not neglect is a year-end IT audit.

Maybe you do this every year and are only now putting it off. Perhaps you’ve never done one and aren’t looking forward to the effort. In either case, we hope you reconsider. While it seems like a lot of work, the time you put in the next few weeks will pay dividends. And with the right technology solution, the time spent can be inconsequential.

Benefits of an EOY IT Audit

There are many advantages of starting the year off with a freshly audited IT environment, many in the area of mitigating IT risks. We already talked about proving IT compliance, which is also true for confirming adherence with company policies. One can also both evaluate and confirm access controls and overall security.

Another advantage is defining what you have for commercial software. You then compare this against your software license records to find out if you are under or over paying for software. This is critical in the event that a software company or the Business Software Alliance decides to conduct a licensing audit.

An IT audit can also spot and help rectify performance bottlenecks and other such problems. You can also identify resources that are under or over utilized and make changes to balance the network.

Different Types of EOY IT Audits

So why not finish off the year on a high note with an end-of-year (EOY) IT audit? One problem is there are lots of different kinds of IT audits – from those aimed at compliance to looking at assets/IT inventory, software licensing and non-compliance related security audits. Fortunately the same techniques and solutions can ease all of these audit types.

Compliance rules mean you have to abide by the regulations – and prove to auditors that you’ve done so. Even if you don’t fall under these regulations’ purview, you may have to prove to the higher ups that your network is secure and could pass a compliance audit if you needed it to.

The core of most IT audits concern security, privacy and data integrity. If you have all that nailed, you are in good shape to ace the rest of the test. The main challenges are making sure (and proving) that patches have been successfully installed on all relevant systems;operating systems are modern, supported, and have all meaningful updates; logs are kept to track relevant events and to define who has done what on the network; access is carefully controlled; and the network is secured through effective anti-malware and other measures.

Challenges of Manual IT Audits

The Grant Thornton company conducted a survey where audit pros were asked about key issues.

Here are key findings:

  • Most respondents say compliance was the biggest issue for internal audits
  • Some two-thirds believe regulation increases auditing costs
  • Over a third find the cost of audits diverts resources from core activities
  • 36% don’t use compliance-specific solutions effectively

This all means there is work to be done on processes and technical auditing and compliance solutions. And auditing has to a priority when it comes time to budget. The good news is the right auditing solution is easy on the budget and, through automation, uses precious little manpower. Without such a solution, however, IT and security audits are expensive, inefficient, and fraught with error.

When IT audits are done manually, tech folks have to visit each machine and gather information on OSes, apps, patches, and whatever security is present. You also have to pore through logs and build reports detailing system status, key events and users that have access.

This time-consuming process leaves little time to do analysis, planning or making improvements.

Elements of an Ideal IT Audit Solution

Here are four areas to look for in an IT auditing solution.

  • Automation and Consolidation. The system should automatically log and track user access to devices and data. Using and maintaining multiple point solutions for different areas of your network is inefficient, costly, and introduces more chances for error. One system should provide visibility to, and reporting from, infrastructure across the entire network.
  • Real-Time Monitoring. With real-time monitoring, you can always be sure your systems are in compliance. When it comes time for an audit, you don’t have to go from device to device to make sure everything is compliant. Since the real-time monitoring is always at work, you never have to manually check their status or worry that you missed something.
  • Reporting. Without real-time monitoring, you cannot be sure reports are accurate and up-to-date. Even reports from the day before can be inaccurate — and those inaccuracies could lead to serious consequences. With real-time monitoring, the reports are always in real-time so they are always 100% accurate. Meanwhile, the right system provides feedback through detailed and comprehensive reporting based on protocols you determine. You customize reports to gather exactly what you need for the audit, and produce these reports painlessly.
  • Remote Endpoint Management. The right system allows you to check on devices remotely ─ without ever having to leave your office. This improves efficiency, reduces cost, and ensures up-to-date reporting. At the same time, the right tool will be automatically updated as to any changes (whether they occur on site or remotely, by a technician or automatically) so all this up-to-the-minute data is fully ready for reporting and review.

Kaseya VSA is Your Compliance and IT Audit Solution

Kaseya VSA is a powerful IT system management solution, and as such, does all of the things listed above and much more — all through a single console. From this single pane of glass, you get a clear view of devices installed and their current status. At the same time, you can track what your users are doing across your entire network. You can track user logins and have customized reports issued automatically. With Kaseya VSA, you don’t need multiple programs to gather data, because all management capabilities work together — including certified Kaseya partner products which are fully integrated.

Kaseya VSA helps you be proactive in auditing, and identifying and remedying issues far before non-compliance becomes a problem.

Meanwhile automation allows you to fully leverage your IT staff. For instance, automatic patching and update installation removes human error, reduces risk, and ensures IT compliance. You can fully control how and when patches are applied, and which devices they are applied to. Plus, when everything is monitored and automatically recorded, it is a simple matter of gathering the data in a customized report for management, staff, or auditors.

To learn more about Kaseya VSA, get your free trial here today.

Posted by Doug Barney
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.
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