How to Develop Internal Controls to Mitigate IT Security Risks

How to Develop Internal Controls to Mitigate IT Security RisksHow to Develop Internal Controls to Mitigate IT Security Risks
AvatarGuest Author asked 2 years ago

1 Answers
Rebecca KappelRebecca Kappel Staff answered 2 years ago
First and foremost, let’s get our terms straight. IT internal controls are tools– policies, processes or other activities put in place to support an organization to meet its goals and mitigate risk. Internal controls can be obligatory, put in place to comply with regulations or laws, or they can be voluntarily implemented because of common sense- a wish to use best practices, or simply out of necessity.

Implementing security controls can also be used to boost efficiency and productivity. They can streamline processes, reduce costs, ensure business continuity, and eliminate manual labor in places. These benefits overall combine to increase effectiveness and continuity.

Defining the internal controls for your company will involve a careful evaluation of your goals and requirements but will ultimately foster resilience and make your company stronger.

Back to the internal controls that will mitigate IT Security risks! The COSO framework advocates 5 steps to developing and implementing internal controls that will mitigate your IT risks:

  1. Establish an Appropriate Control Environment – These are baseline requirements, almost obvious prerequisites, that your IT security needs to have in place before you get all technical. An ‘appropriate’ environment would mean that the attitudes and values of the employees match company goals- your employees are an integral part of your IT Security. It means appropriate physical security is in place and that the appropriate structures and processes are possible to implement. 
  2. Assess Risk – Awareness is key! Take a full risk assessment regarding your IT Department to know what you’re dealing with: identify, analyze and manage mitigation of these risks. Once risk is assessed, objectives can be defined, policies and processes aligned.
  3. Implement Control Activities – Control policies and procedures must be created and implemented to ensure that management directives are followed and objectives are met. They help to ensure that critical steps are taken to counter threats to the organization’s goals. Just a few types of security controls include approvals, authorizations, verifications, reviews of operating performance, asset security, and role segregation.
  4. Communicate Information – Communication will keep the internal controls relevant and effective! Information and communication systems surround control actions. These systems allow the individuals who work for the company to record and exchange the data they need to run, manage, and control their operations. For example, if you see an internal control isn’t achieving its purpose, that will need to be communicated to higher-ups who can authorize a change in control or to technical experts who can see what isn’t working and implement a fix.
  5. Monitor – The entire process must be closely monitored and tweaked as necessary to make sure your internal controls are effective. As a result, the system will be able to react quickly to changing circumstances. A good practice is to automate the monitoring to eliminate human error, including forgetting to make certain changes or check things. A risk assessment and the effectiveness of present monitoring systems will primarily decide the scope and frequency of different reviews. 

Adapting these steps to the unique structure and operations of your company will ensure you are using your cybersecurity controls in the most effective way possible to keep your IT risks consistently mitigated!

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