Playing Russian Roulette With Your Auditor

BeyondTrust, May 20th, 2011

Who could forget the image of Christopher Walken’s Academy Award winning performance in The Deer Hunter? Anyone who has seen that movie can not help but understand the ultimate penalty for losing at Russian Roulette. Even though the penalties aren’t quite as “life threatening” when the compliance auditor comes around, they can be “career threatening” to the IT executive who plays the same game with meeting regulatory requirements.

I’ve blogged before about the right side, wrong side and wild side of the dreaded audit, but I didn’t realize the extent of IT organizations that “pray for the best” when it comes to achieving a passing mark from their outside auditors. The misuse of privilege in any organization is absolutely in violation of most every regulation on the books today. Just run an entitlements report to see who has access to what information resources across your extended enterprise and you will immediately determine to extent of the potential problem. For those of you more interested in digging to the heart of the challenge, then I found this very cool mind-map on the “Frequently Avoided Questions About IT Auditing” in New Zealand of all places.

It also helps to understand the Information Technology Audit Process. The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) is recognized worldwide for providing guidance on critical aspects of organizational governance, business ethics, internal control, enterprise risk management, fraud and financial reporting and has an incredible amount of content on their site to assist with this as well.

Bottom line: don’t play Russian Roulette with your auditor as the consequences can get messy.