3 Reasons You Should Assess Internal Business Units

By Miryam Amsili Meir

Posted on Nov 5, 2020

The world of internal audit has changed significantly in the past ten years. As more companies moved mission-critical operations to the cloud, the line between operations and IT audits blurred. Today, nearly every internal department incorporates IT as an enabler, but many lack the cybersecurity awareness to ensure data integrity, confidentiality, and availability. With so many departments leveraging technology, internal auditors and their teams should be assessing internal business units’ cybersecurity in much the same way that they evaluate third-party vendors.

1. Hold business units accountable for shadow IT risk

The first step to any compliance program lies in building teams of internal stakeholders to help identify and assess risk. However, after setting internal controls, these diverse teams often fade away into the vast lake of daily activities.

Once these teams dissolve, holding internal business units accountable often falls to the internal audit department. Meanwhile, companies increasingly find themselves suffering from shadow IT risk. A May 2020 HelpNet Security article cites Gartner research, noting that anywhere from 30% to 40% of enterprise IT spending consists of shadow IT. One department may not know another department’s IT investment, leading to multiple similar purchases. Additionally, workforce members often add productivity applications to their devices or extensions to their web browsers.

All of these additions, done without IT’s oversight, increase the organization’s cybersecurity risk. With the internal team of stakeholders dissolved, the internal audit department lacks visibility into these new risks.

Internal audit teams can hold their business units accountable if they treat them as a third-party business partner. Requesting individual departments to engage in a cybersecurity assessment holds them accountable for the shadow IT risks they create.

2. Foster a cyber aware culture

While the internal audit team may not generate revenue, the department is often a force for organizational change. The internal audit department holds the organization to the regulatory standards. In cybersecurity, the audit function needs to meet requirements set by laws and industry standards. Since updating bureaucratic processes often lags behind cybercriminals’ evolving methodologies, many now require organizations to monitor and document controls’ effectiveness continuously.

To continuously monitor controls’ effectiveness, the internal audit function needs to know the processes each business unit has in place for securing data. Requiring business units to engage in their cybersecurity risk assessments makes them focus more on their cybersecurity posture.

Most business units assume that the responsibility for cybersecurity falls to the IT and internal audit departments. However, making them responsible for self-assessment and monitoring their cybersecurity like a third-party business partner increases awareness. Ultimately, the more cyber aware all departments and users are, the more secure the enterprise is.

3. Prepare for the future

In the end, nearly every business wants to grow. Most businesses exist to turn a profit. Profitability and growth include becoming a publicly-held company or merging into another organization.

Both of these growth paths require an organization to understand the totality of its cybersecurity risk. Investors want to know that the company’s data breach risk is low. To prove that, you need to provide documentation that proves your position. An organization rife with shadow IT risk and poor cyber hygiene is not a good investment.

In the end, holding business units accountable by making them engage in cybersecurity self-assessments enables future growth. Whether seeking additional investors or during the acquisition process, you need documentation proving that your cybersecurity posture is not a liability. As part of this, you need to ensure that all business units and their technologies are secure.

SecurityScorecard’s Atlas: Streamlining the assessment process for internal business units

SecurityScorecard’s Atlas enables organizations to leverage automated questionnaire technology to assess their internal business units to their internal business units. Rather than leaving cybersecurity the sole responsibility of internal auditors and IT departments, organizations can now more easily communicate cybersecurity risk across the enterprise.

Atlas acts as a single-source for documentation. IT and audit teams can securely send questionnaires to business units then leverage the same real-time security analysis used for vendor risk management. Atlas offers an intuitive questionnaire management solution that supports over 20 industry-standard questionnaires, an immutable audit trail, and secure documentation attachment. Our security ratings platform continuously monitors your IT ecosystem from the outside-in, alerting the IT and audit departments when a questionnaire response deviates from the data we collect.

By removing silos and increasing collaboration, SecurityScorecard’s platform enables your organization to establish, monitor, and enforce a robust cybersecurity posture.

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