An information security audit is an audit on the level of information security in an organization. Within the broad scope of auditing information security there are multiple types of audits, multiple objectives for different audits, etc. Most commonly the controls being audited can be categorized to technical, physical and administrative. Auditing information security covers topics from auditing the physical security of data centers to auditing the logical security of databases and highlights key components to look for and different methods for auditing these areas.
When centered on the IT aspects of information security, it can be seen as a part of an information technology audit. It is often then referred to as an information technology security audit or a computer security audit. However, information security encompasses much more than IT.
In assessing the need for a client to implement encryption policies for their organization, the Auditor should conduct an analysis of the client’s risk and data value. Companies with multiple external users, e-commerce applications, and sensitive customer/employee information should maintain rigid encryption policies aimed at encrypting the correct data at the appropriate stage in the data collection process.
Auditors should continually evaluate their client’s encryption policies and procedures. Companies that are heavily reliant on e-commerce systems and wireless networks are extremely vulnerable to the theft and loss of critical information in transmission. Policies and procedures should be documented and carried out to ensure that all transmitted data is protected. Companies can base their policies on the Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT) guidelines established by the IT Governance Institute (ITGI) and Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). The IT auditor should be adequately informed about COBIT guidelines.
The auditor should verify that management has controls in place over the data encryption management process. Access to keys should require dual control, keys should be composed of two separate components and should be maintained on a computer that is not accessible to programmers or outside users. Furthermore, management should attest that encryption policies ensure data protection at the desired level and verify that the cost of encrypting the data does not exceed the value of the information itself. All data that is required to be maintained for an extensive amount of time should be encrypted and transported to a remote location. Procedures should be in place to guarantee that all encrypted sensitive information arrives at its location and is stored properly. Finally the auditor should attain verification from management that the encryption system is strong, not attackable and compliant with all local and international laws and regulations.
Main areas of technical audits are: