Internal Auditors More Focused on Managing and Leveraging Technology to Protect Companies Against Risks

A new report reveals that the current priorities of internal auditors are to better navigate social media risks, leverage technology to improve the audit process, and collaborate more with business partners to address organisational risks.


“Internal audit professionals’ plates are more than full as they strive to protect their companies from exposure to risk while assessing new technologies and learning new regulatory requirements and professional standards,” said Brian Christensen, executive vice president, global internal audit, Protiviti. “The responses to our survey reveal the myriad challenges – and opportunities   they face under evolving business conditions. Those professionals who place a priority on being anticipatory, change-oriented and highly adaptive have the best chance of serving their organizations’ risk management needs effectively.”


The 2014 Internal Audit Capabilities and Needs Survey Report released by global consulting firm Protiviti, asked respondents about social media risks and their integration into the audit process. Nearly half (47 percent) of surveyed organisations do not include in their audit plans cybersecurity risk as it relates to social media.


According to respondents, the most important concerns related to social media risks include: financial loss;
interrupted business continuity; loss of intellectual property; loss of employee property; and viruses and malware.


Despite some signs of progress, the survey’s results suggest companies need to make dramatic improvements. For organisations that do have social media policies, significant concerns remain as many still fail to address critical issues. For example, in cases where respondents said a social media policy is in place, survey results showed that nearly 30 percent fail to address disclosure of employee information and only 66 percent address information security.


“It’s clear based on the survey results that companies are not doing enough to address social media risks and safeguards, and in turn are facing undue exposure to significant risks to their business,” said Christensen. “These results should persuade the board, executive management and CAEs to take a more active and vigilant approach to managing social media risks.”


Technical Knowledge – Top Five Priorities
Internal audit professionals assessed their competency in 49 areas of technical knowledge and then indicated whether they believe their knowledge is adequate or needs improvement. Based on the findings, the top areas for technical knowledge improvement are:

1. Mobile applications
2. NIST Cybersecurity Framework (a new addition to the list compared to previous surveys)
3. Social media applications
4. Cloud computing
5. Data analysis technologies


Audit Process Knowledge – Top Five Priorities
Respondents also evaluated 35 areas of audit process knowledge in terms of where they need to improve. The top priorities are:

1. Computer-assisted audit tools (CAATs)
2. Data analysis tools for data manipulation
3. Data analysis tools for statistical analysis
4. Auditing IT using new technologies
5. Data analysis tools for sampling

The results show that internal auditors are intent on improving the way they leverage technology, with a focus on methods for continuous monitoring and auditing, as well as advanced data analysis techniques. Results also indicate a desire to improve and become more proactive in dealing with technology-related risks by auditing IT security more effectively and improving approaches to fraud monitoring.

Survey findings about personal skills and capabilities demonstrated a growing desire for internal auditors to work more collaboratively within the internal audit function and throughout their companies. In particular, CAEs identified the importance of communicating the role and importance of the audit function to internal and external partners.

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