How to become an IT auditor
Becoming an IT auditor is a significant milestone, but it is not easy. It requires skill, determination and a lot of practice to get to the level where you can confidently certify your skills and knowledge. It’s also a great career choice if you already have some IT security knowledge, so certifying would be a great move.
We will look at some of the basics required for a potential IT auditor such as job skills, certifications and the job responsibilities that you will need to undertake when you are on the job.
The basic job responsibilities of an IT auditor
IT auditing is a role that requires concentration, attention to detail and a lot of hard work. It rewards creativity and thinking outside of the box because in order to be a successful IT auditor, you must understand how to compromise systems and report on the resulting findings while following procedures and protocols within the scope of your investigation.
As an IT auditor, it is your job to identify all issues you come across that are set out in your investigation’s scope. You should be able to communicate well and relay messages to your team members accurately and effectively. Recording and keeping track of all the steps that you followed during the course of your investigation is also critical, especially if any of your findings are called into question.
The most common tasks that you will undertake as an IT auditor will be documentation and audit process planning. This is the way that your audit will be conducted, as well as the objectives that you wish to accomplish during the investigation, so it is very important and makes up a large part of your workload. Conducting the actual audits is a big part of the role, naturally, and will mean either travelling to a client’s place of business or checking remote vulnerabilities if that is a requirement of the audit scope.
Because your role is that of an auditor, you will not actually be fixing any problems that you detect during your audit. Instead you will continue to evaluate and observe the security policies and controls, and how they could impact the business.
The final stages of an IT audit require that you write an executive report for senior management. This report should include a non-technical version with terms that can be understood and acted on by the C-suite executives, and a technical version that underlines the security and technological issues that were detected during the audit. It is from the technical audit that the remedial and corrective actions will take place, so it is important that it is as detailed and accurate as possible. Issues regarding compliance and regulations must also be noted and expanded upon in your report, which is why you must be very familiar with the industry specific regulations for each of your clients when attending to their auditing requirements.
What are the steps to becoming an IT auditor?
Becoming an IT auditor is not difficult, and the initial steps are quite straightforward on the surface. You’ll need experience and education to become a successful IT auditor, both of which take time and dedication to achieve. Here are five basic steps to becoming an IT auditor.
Step 1: Education
Most people look at acquiring a higher-level qualification when pursuing a career as an auditor, like a bachelor’s degree in an IT-related field, but this isn’t always necessary. Because auditing is such a large part of this job role, many people find their way to it via careers that are not IT-related. Instead they rely more on their auditing prowess from backgrounds such as law, finance and administration. Candidates are able to then learn how it applies to IT auditing and build themselves up from there.
Step 2: Work experience or apprenticeship
Becoming an IT auditor doesn’t mean that you must have worked exclusively in a role that requires only administration and auditing skills. Many IT professionals find themselves heading towards an auditing career because they had to assist with various audit-related tasks in a role such as IT systems administrator.
Step 3: Certification
There are many certifications out there that can help you towards becoming an IT auditor. Not all of them are geared exclusively at IT auditing like the CISA is, but if you want to gain certifications that at least touch on some of the They are:
Step 4: Land a job
One of the toughest parts of your plan will be landing that dream job in a reputable company. Most larger organizations have internal auditing teams that go about the hard work of auditing and following up on compliance issues. However, some firms specialize in outsourcing their services, and you might find yourself visiting many different companies and assisting with their IT audits. Whichever position type you end up filling as an IT auditor, you will find many challenges that will put your learned knowledge to the test.
Step 5: Continue training and upskilling
Just because you are working and you are fully certified, that doesn’t mean that your opportunities for learning have stopped. Quite the opposite is true. In order to remain effective in your role as an IT auditor, regardless of what level you might be working at, you need to always be learning. There are many different sources that you can turn to if you want to keep your skills sharp.
What training is required to become an IT auditor?
Certification is one thing, but what are some training avenues that you can explore to maintain your IT auditing knowledge and ensure that it stays relevant as you progress through you career. Some additional training resources that you can use are:
- Short courses: Every once in a while you may find that new technologies emerge that require a new approach to your auditing procedures. Short courses can help bridge the gap when there’s new knowledge that needs to be learned, so this is a great way to learn part-time without interrupting your work schedule
- Training seminars: New products and methodologies require short stints of training and can help you to learn new techniques that might apply to your specific industry. These typically last for a day to a few days, but can be surprisingly helpful when the information relates to a new process or procedure that you have to perform in an upcoming audit
- Refresher training: Sometimes you might not use all the skills that you learned back when you were getting certified, so you might be a little rusty with some of the finer points of some aspects of a particular audit process. Refresher training can help you relearn some forgotten information or even replace what you learned with newer, updated information
- Regulatory update training sessions: If your company has specific standards that they need to abide by, then any changes to the certification need to be explained as they will affect the way that you work as well as the way that you collect audit data
What certifications are required to become an IT auditor?
There are other certifications that will help you to become an IT auditor or go even further in the field of compliance and security if you are already working in a similar role. Below are some of the most popular certifications that you can take if you are wanting to get into the field of IT auditing:
- IIA’s CIA: The Certified Internal Auditor certification is a good starting point for anyone that wants to get into an auditing role. This is not specifically aimed at IT auditing, but it does teach best practice and governance standards which are important for any auditor. These skills are useful when auditing in general and can be applied to IT systems
- ISACA’s CISA: The Certified Information Systems Auditor is aimed at IT auditing and teaches many of the basics that you will need to get into a role as an IT auditor. It teaches change controls and security standards that are most used for auditing IT systems
- ISACA’s CGEIT: This certification is aimed at more managerial candidates that act in an advisory or assurance capacity as they relate to IT governance. This covers some auditing but is looked at as a more overarching certification for more senior roles within the organization
- ISACA’s CRISC: The CRISC certification (Certified Risk and Information Systems Control) teaches candidates how to evaluate and assess the current risk management and mitigation systems within an organization. IT systems audits are a big part of this process, although this certification will certainly teach you much more than that
Sometimes an IT auditor will need to have a specific understanding of the environment that they are auditing. If financial knowledge is a requirement, then the IT auditor must ensure that they understand what is required of them as well as the specific legislation and frameworks concerning access to confidential and proprietary information.
There is a demand for competent, certified IT auditors, which makes getting certification in this field a solid choice for anyone looking to get into the field of compliance and auditing with a heavy focus on IT systems. If this sounds like the ideal career for you, then consider looking at Infosec’s breakdown of IT auditing here and recommended IT audit track course here.