Failure is a good thing.

by Hannah Grace Holladay / March 7th, 2023

We are wired to avoid failure.  We often do everything in our power to make sure we will succeed at whatever endeavor we embark on and can even become terrified at the possibility of failure.

The same is true of an audit – everyone starts their audit journey hoping they won’t fail.  “Are we going to fail?” is such a common question amongst our clients, and we understand that feeling. It’s a scary process, and you want to do well, either to prove it to your boss that you’re doing your job well or to prove to a potential client relationship that your partnership is the right choice. We understand there are serious consequences for not passing or completing a successful audit.

But can we let you in on an auditing secret? Failure is actually a good thing.

Failure in an audit doesn’t mean you aren’t successful. It means you found a vulnerability or gap that could have led to a real breach that threatens the stability of your business or costs you thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

We know this feels backwards, so let’s dive into why “failing” in your audit could be the best thing that ever happened to your business.

1. You Can’t Actually Fail an Audit

Audits aren’t pass or fail, but we understand that you want a clean audit report so you can show off the strength of your security program.

If you are pursuing SOC 1 or SOC 2 audit, you will receive an opinion issued by an independent auditor that speaks to the operating effectiveness and design of your organization’s security program.  This means that as an auditor is testing your controls, they are looking to see if the control is compliant with the framework you are being audited against and if it is working as you intended. 

We know that compliance is complicated.  An audit with KirkpatrickPrice allows you to work with an experienced partner who can assure you that your security program is designed correctly and securely.   

In your audit report, each control objective will outline if there were any exceptions found during testing.  An exception on your audit report means that the control was working as intended except for one thing.  For example, if your organization claims that every visitor that comes to your facility must sign into a book documenting their visit, but your auditor arrives on site and isn’t asked to sign-in, that would be an exception.  Your auditor would see that the control was not being implemented as intended, or operating effectively, even if it was required by a policy. 

This type of discovery, and any other exceptions noted, allow organizations to double check themselves against the controls required of them by their own policies as well as industry standards and frameworks.  Maybe the company mentioned in the example above knew that recording visitors was a requirement, but the execution of that task was never assigned.  Now the organization can make sure the front desk employee knows they are responsible for signing-in each visitor in order to keep the facility safe.

2. Failure Exposes Potential Threats

Not all exceptions are as low stakes as not signing into a visitor log.  What if your company’s IT department has spent months designing and implementing a cloud environment that is perfectly configured to meet your company’s needs, and then you experience a breach from one misconfiguration that leaks huge amounts of valuable internal data?

That’s exactly what happened to The U.S. Department of Defense when a misconfiguration of one of their internal servers left the server without a password and therefore accessible to anyone on the internet who knew its IP address.

That is risky. It would have been even riskier if it hadn’t been caught.  A quality audit can identify vulnerabilities like this to ensure you aren’t unknowingly leaving yourself and your data vulnerable.

If this vulnerability had gone unnoticed, special military operations and intel could have been found online, making the whole country vulnerable.

No one would say finding that misconfiguration is a failure.  While it may have been mistakenly configured, we all know mistakes happen.  What matters is that you are committed to finding and remediating those mistakes before they become a threat.

And when your data is as important as internal military data, finding a mistake like this saves the day.  It leads to success.  The Department of Defense should constantly be searching for misconfigurations so they can be sure they’re taking every precaution to keep their valuable data safe, and so should you.

An audit is simply one of the tools you can use to verify that the way you keep your data safe is actually doing that. Choosing to work with an experienced information security auditor is a great way to make sure your controls are being tested thoroughly so that your organization knows its security program is designed well and operating effectively.  This gives you a chance to inspire the entire organization to show a greater commitment to security and compliance and will give you assurance that you are doing everything you can to protect your business.

3. Failure Inspires Greater Commitment to Security

When you experience failure, you are given the chance to grow. When your organization receives exceptions in your audit report, don’t see them as marks of failure.  Use them as a way to inspire your organization to show an even greater commitment to security to both internal employees and clients.

When your organization faces it’s exceptions or findings as a challenge to overcome, the remediation process demonstrates to your clients that you are committed to maintaining the strongest, most secure system possible. Once you remediate your findings, your organization can be confident in the security of its controls and your clients will feel comfortable trusting you with their valuable data.

Continuously engaging in yearly audits will assure your organization that your security and compliance program is keeping your valuable data secure and that is growing and maturing appropriately.

When you work with KirkpatrickPrice, you can make sure your audit will end in success.

When you undergo an audit, you can’t lose. One of our clients recently said,

“If we fail, it will be good for us.”

We hope that you can see the truth in this statement. You aren’t a failure if your auditor identifies an exception.  These exceptions, when remediated properly, give you the power to strengthen your security measures and protect your valuable data from a threat you didn’t even know was possible.

You aren’t a failure. And your audit findings only make you stronger if you let them.

Failure gives you the opportunity to create an even more secure environment.

When we work together, we will partner with you to turn these vulnerabilities into your greatest strengths.  Connect with one of our experts today and make your organization unstoppable in the face of today’s threats.