The end of the year is rapidly approaching, and so is the deadline for those completing a Q4 audit! It’s not hard to imagine what Santa and his Elves feel like as they rush around to get everything in order and ready for their big day.
Just as the Elves help Santa to ensure everything gets done in time, our auditors are committed to helping you make sure you have everything in place working effectively to successfully complete your audit on schedule. Here are 6 tips on how to pass an audit in time for year-end.
How to Pass an Audit in Q4
To better prepare for your upcoming audit, here are six tips that companies across all industries can find helpful:
1. Perform a Risk Assessment
Risk Assessment. Risk Assessment. Risk Assessment.
It always starts with a Risk Assessment. What better way to identify your assets and prioritize your unique risks than by performing a regular risk assessment? Not sure if you have all of the necessary controls in place to properly protect your assets and mitigate risks? Don’t worry – your annual risk assessment will help you with that. Not only is a risk assessment mandated by most audit frameworks, but it’s also a critical component of any information security program.
2. Documentation Inventory
Are you maintaining audit logs? Do you have proof of employee acknowledgement of policies and procedures? Are you keeping all necessary records for your auditor to review?
Waiting until the last minute to pull all of your documentation together can make preparing to pass an audit seem much more tedious and stressful than is actually necessary. Veterans of the audit process will highly encourage companies to continuously collect and maintain necessary documentation in order to be prepared year-round for an audit.
3. Policy and Procedure Review
Reviewing your policies and procedures on an annual basis is a good way to ensure that there are not any gaps in your controls and processes. It is also the perfect opportunity to be certain that everything you say you’re doing as an organization is formally documented and communicated to all relevant personnel.
When it comes to compliance, we’ve all heard the adage, “If it’s not written down, it isn’t happening”. This is good advice when it comes to preparing for an audit because your auditor won’t be interested in hearing about your processes, but rather will need to see them documented on paper and see evidence that they are a living a breathing document that continuously changes and matures with your organization’s environment.
4. Employee Training
A strong defense is the best defense. Regularly training your employees on security awareness and the importance of security and compliance can help put your mind at ease when it comes to knowing they are taking the right steps and precautions to protect organizational assets. A culture of security awareness and compliance must start from the upper-management level and trickle down to the employee level in order to make the best impact. Security training programs should educate employees on policies and procedures as well as basic security awareness.
5. Vendor Compliance Management
Are you properly managing your vendors to verify that they are complying with information security and compliance requirements and best practices? Vendors pose a risk to every organization, so it’s imperative that you’re doing your due diligence to mitigate those risks. Do you have all of your documentation of proper vetting prepared and ready for your auditor to review? What is your onboarding process? Off-boarding? Do you have vendors sign a non-disclosure? Learn more vendor management best practices with our vendor compliance assessment.
These are the pieces you’ll want to have together in order to successfully pass your audit in Q4.
6. Work with your Auditor
When it comes to completing an information security or compliance audit, your auditor is your greatest resource and is not to be feared. Work with your auditor to show them you’re committed to the audit and remediation process and improving your environment. If they show you that a control you have in place is insufficient, work with them to make the appropriate changes for follow-up, and most importantly, be honest. A good auditor won’t work with you to simply check a box, they will work with you to ensure that your organization is secure and compliant.
So as you wrap up your Q4 audit this year, remember to not overcomplicate it. Gain audit participation from your entire organization by expressing the importance that security plays in your business operations. Working together with your organization and your auditor can help you achieve greater levels of security and compliance at your organization.