IIA Magazine Aug 2016 issue

Cybersecurity is an area where it is lacking among major companies. Companies need to step up to beef this area up. Productivity is a main concern for employees. Ethical pressure is greater during organizational change. The COSO framework is expected to be updated in 2017. It will be updated to include the latest risk management thinking and principles. IoT is going to have a big impact moving forward and there needs to be a comprehensive approach to go about doing it.

Analytics-Driven Audits. Before tackling data analytics, internal auditors need to understand the types of data, how it is stored, and how to apply it. Automated audits are the new trend now. It can be applied to many aspects of the audit too. Understand what are qualitative and quantitative data and their measurements. Understand how data is stored and the various formats. Any outliers should be thoroughly investigated. There are 4 types: descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive. Learn to gain insight into the business.

The Mind of a Credit Card Hacker. Smart hackers usually lay low. They can steal credit card details and then sell them. Hackers use a vector to steal data, such as phishing. They also need to collect the data quickly and then cover their tracks. The hacker will verify that the cards are valid and start off with transactions of small amounts. If they go undetected, they may get bolder. IA can encourage the company to encrypt the credit card information and monitor access to networks. Access control needs to be checked too. IA is the third line of defence.

Make the Most of Assurance. Assurance maps can enable internal audit to team with other assurance providers to visually convey how risk is managed. IA can work with other assurance providers and depict the results in an assurance map. The map allows one to spot gaps in risk coverage or any overlaps. Assurance maps can enhance and give value to AC too. The map should not be too complex.

Tough Consequences. Adequate contract administration can save organizations a tremendous amount of grief and money. It is important to monitor vendor contracts properly. The contract administrator should be the liaison party and highlight any non-compliance. There needs to be adequate financial controls over the cash receipts and revenue cycles at the vendor’s end.

A World of Connections. The IoT requires IA to confront risks that are not so neatly contained. The impact of this is growing. IoT is about interacting with the environment for business benefit. Emerging risks from IoT must be monitored closely. There are many benefits from using IoT devices too. Management needs to be aware of the risks too. There needs to be a deployment strategy too. A policy needs to be drawn up.

Cyber Resilience. IA should work collaboratively and proactively to address breaches and build resistance to future attacks. Banks need to protect the SWIFT codes. A cyber breach might definitely occur in future. There is increasing use of software to pick up behavioural anomalies. There needs to be both a protective and detective strategy. A response plan is important. Customer data should be given top priority in a cyberattack response. IA needs to understand IT from a technical and controls perspective.

Auditing the Cloud. IA should delve into the complexities and unique risks of moving to a cloud platform. Many companies are making use of the cloud as compared to traditional data center infrastructure. Less manpower is needed to maintain a cloud as well. Servers can be added on demand too. IA needs to verify the security, reliability and availability of the data. No two clouds are the same but the common ones are infrastructure as a service, software as a service, platform as a service etc. It is good to obtain the SSAE 16 report on the vendor as evidence of its controls. It is difficult to track cloud deployment. Cloud assets can keep varying as well and it is difficult to monitor. The data is now stored on the same physical equipment as other organizations and there is a risk of leakage. A security program is still a must. Penetration testing needs to be done periodically to prevent hackers. Relying on the SSAE 16 report is useful, but not sufficient.

Trust but Verify. Control self-assessments can increase audit efficiency and spread control awareness throughout the organization. This is for process owners to self-evaluate the effectiveness of controls. This could be done via workshops/ questionaires etc. Sometimes, it is not possible to deploy a team to perform audits in every area. When CSAs are used, IA needs to explain the rationale to the management. The process owners must be identified clearly. IA needs to independently verify some of their responses. For example, only key controls or only those rated as ineffective may be selected for further testing. Continuous support is a must and training must be provided. The right level of project sponsorship is important too. It can be implemented gradually. CSA enables IA to allocate resources to focus on areas with significant control weaknesses.

Audit Never Sleeps. IA must keep innovating and improving and focus on the organizations that we love. We need to constantly do the right thing and hone our communication skills. Effective communication is the key and getting to know the auditees well is the key. Listening well is crucial too. Nowadays, IA should adopt an integrated mindset. We need to broaden our IT knowledge to meet stakeholder expectations. Applying soft skills are important too. Our work must be guarded by ethics and transparency. We need our approach our work with a strategic focus too. There is also a need to focus on our future.

Optimizing IA. IA are being continually challenged to improve their effectiveness to better meet growing expectations and workloads. IA staffing levels remain relatively constant. IA must be aware of strategy and ensure that procedures align with that strategy. IA should understand what the external risks are. As for operational efficiency, IA should offer cost effective and sustainable solutions. Quality assurance is important to ensure quality and compliance with regulations. IA should identify cost savings, understand business goals, increase collaboration, optimize technologies and strive for continuous monitoring.

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IIA Magazine Feb 2017 issue

IIA Feb 2017 Issue

Internal Auditors need to provide maximum return on investment and audit the right things. They need to understand the company’s strategic mission, objectives and KPIs. More auditors need to base their work on the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.

The 5 emerging threats are (i) global economic uncertainty; (ii) increased regulatory burden; (iii) significant industry changes; (iv) business model disruption; (v) cybersecurity threats. Global economic uncertainty seems to a bigger risk in 2017 as compared to previous years. In the compliance space, with the new US administration, enforcement areas could see some change. Trump could change the legislative, regulatory and executive actions under Obama’s reign.

Although most companies feel that they could detect a sophisticated cyberattack, many of them do not have an adequate communication strategy in the event of a significant attack. Also, some of the BCP might be lacking. The continuous monitoring of cyberattacks is also a challenge.

Data Mining. By leveraging data, internal auditors can address issues beyond the reach of traditional analysis techniques. It involves making use of data which had previously no formulated relationships, patterns. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, statistics and database systems all come into play. Some of the techniques auditors can use are predictive modeling (IF), data segmentation (data clustering), neural networks (artificial intelligence), link analysis (links between records), deviation detection (red flags). The use of email mining can identify red flags in fraud etc. Social network analysis is also possible. IA should continue to look for ways to innovate their audit testing.

Intelligent Assessments. Use cognitive technology to help identify high-risk areas. These are intelligent computer systems that can aid in the performance of risk assessments. For instance, this tool can extract and analyze text from audit reports and analyze trends and high-risk areas. Natural language processing (NLP) has the power to tap into every sentence of every report to churn out more information. The machine will convert text to a certain structure and add meaning to the text and teach the computer to understand audit concepts. Words like ‘fraud’, ‘finding’, ‘auditee’ can be flagged out.

Turning Up the Heat on Fraud. A fraud risk assessment can help auditors take the organization’s ethical temperature. There are many ways to do it, example, through surveys, focus groups, workshops etc. The focus is mainly on fraud risk. It works best in small brainstorming sessions with operational management. Using the ACFE’s Fraud Risk Assessment Tool can be useful as it provides a structured approach. Risk assessment is about identifying where fraud might occur and the potential perpetrators. IA can do surveys to measure the ethical climate and voting can be anonymous. The results of the survey can be discussed with management. If there are high risk areas with fraud risks, IA can pay more attention to them.

The Accidental Discovery. Small or remote locations can be more susceptible to embezzlement, especially when they are not audited regularly. Confront someone after the facts have been reviewed. Look at the big picture. Controls that aren’t operating effectively are as good as them not being there.

Auditing what matters. Add value by selecting audits that contribute to achievement of strategic objectives. Auditors now should start looking at this area. Look at where the company spends the most money, what their main programmes are etc. Find out who is responsible for the strategy and make them IA’s stakeholders. Traditional audit activities can move towards strategy too. IA should use the COSO ERM framework in its entirety. The aim is for IA to a strategic partner to management. Don’t fear failure and find out more from the auditee by talking to them. The trick is to engage with processor owners easy and evaluate control design. IA should do the following: (i) Identify and define the risks; (ii) rate the risks; (iii) address risks in detail. Getting management buy-in is also important. The CAE must convince the AC to highlight the need for a strategic approach. Most IA wants to be a trusted advisor.

Core Principles and the QAIP. The new IPPF in 2015 can be incorporated into the QAIP to show that the IA is aligned with the mandatory IPPF elements. Learn to develop a concept and approach that is easy to understand. Core principles are a mandatory element of the IPPF. IA need to have general conformance with the Code of Ethics and Standards. The 5 steps are (i) establish a maturity framework (ineffective, partially effective, effective, sustainable, world class); (ii) map core principles with the standards and code of ethics; (iii) Define characteristics of maturity in 3 aspects of standards and QAIP characteristics, infrastructure and process characteristics, core principles and specific characteristics; (iv) perform internal and external assessment consistent with requirements of QAIP; (v) Evaluate and report maturity levels for core principles.

Champion of Trust. By modelling high standards of ethical behaviour, IA can help shore up faith in the organizations they serve. How can IA be a trusted advisor that is well respected? One way is via ethical commitment. IA needs to model ethical conduct in everything they do. IA must have the courage to sound off before things get in trouble. Ethical commitment is the key to a well-functioning IA. Ethics should come naturally to all. We also need to build ethical resilience (integrity, courage, honesty, accountability, trustworthiness).

Infusing IT Auditing into Engagements via a three-phase approach. The tech sector is growing at a rapid rate. Internal auditors also need to develop IT-related capabilities. IA needs to think about the future of integrated auditing. For a start, IA can incorporate IT perspectives into current audit engagements. This can involve documenting down what are the IT automated controls. One can also read IT policies or those on change management. One should also identify resources and pinpoint where they are stored (example: servers). Map core IT resources and data to key business objectives. Respond to IT risks and identify audit objectives that can add value. An integrated audit can help in this. In the middle term, IA can build an IT audit team, understand the IT framework like COBIT, perform IT audits and also foster relationships with IT and management. In the long term, IA can leverage on data analytics and obtain professional certifications (like IIA and CISA).

Breaking Down The Standards. With the right strategy, practitioners can divide conformance into bite-size, easily digested portions. The standards consist of attribute standards (series 1000 to 1322) and performance standards (series 2000 to 2600). Some IA may neglect the attribute standards and focus on the performance standards instead. However, both are very important. IA should perform an assessment of how well they are conforming to the Standards. An external assessment must be conducted once every 5 years. The audit work program needs to be reviewed and approved by the CAE before engagement commencement. Ultimately, conforming and understanding the principles behind the Standards are important.

Auditing Organizational Governance. IA has an integral role to play in improving the organization’s strategic performance. This area is becoming increasingly important in recent years. Governance reviews can help prevent governance failures. Less than 1 in 6 IAs conduct reviews for their organization’s strategy. Sometimes, it might be difficult to conduct a separate governance review. Rather, it might be easier to incorporate it as part of routine audits. One can focus on both the governance structures as well as the organizational culture. Some of the soft controls can include management competence/style; mutual trust and openness; strong leadership; high performance and quality expectations; shared values and understanding; high ethical standards. However, for some of these measures, there are no hard data to analyse. Hence, it is important for IA to read the signs. IA can also provide a more advisory role, which is educating board about developments and trends in the industry and governance best practices. In terms of strategic reviews, IA has much to work on. There is a tendency to focus on weaknesses in financial reporting etc.

Good Governance is All About Quality. The 5 quality rules are (i) customer focus; (ii) management leadership; (iii) Teamwork; (iv) Measurement; (v) Total commitment to continuous improvement.

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