A Complete Guide To Internal Audit

November 8, 2023
A Complete Guide To Internal Audit

Internal audit is a critical function within any organization, serving as the watchful guardian of its internal controls, risk management processes, and overall governance framework. In an era where transparency, accountability, and compliance are paramount, the role of internal audit has evolved from being a routine check to a strategic asset.

Let's embark on a journey through the world of internal audit and discover how it serves as the eyes and ears of an organization, ensuring its vitality and longevity in an ever-changing business landscape.

What is Internal Audit?

An internal audit in information security is basically an assessment conducted by an organization's Internal Audit team or an Independent Auditor to evaluate the effectiveness of the organization's information security program.

Internal audits are typically conducted against the organization’s established Policies, Procedures, and Standards, as well as applicable laws and regulations.

The goal of an internal audit is to identify areas of risk, assess the effectiveness of controls, and provide recommendations for improvement.


An effective Internal Audit should assess the overall security posture of the organization covering all systems and applications, locations, departments and business units, personnel and any third-party service providers that have access to sensitive information or systems.

Generally, such an Audit covers the following areas:

  • Governance and Risk Management: Assessing the organization's policies, procedures, and risk management processes.
  • Asset Management: Assessing how the organization identifies, classifies, and protects its information assets.
  • Access Control: Assessing how the organization provisions, deprovisions, reviews and manages access to its systems.
  • Security Controls: Assessing the effectiveness of technical and administrative controls used to protect information.
  • Network security, such as firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and encryption.
  • Endpoint security, including antivirus and anti-malware software, personal firewalls, and patch management.
  • Physical security, such as access controls, surveillance, and environmental controls.
  • Security Awareness and Training: assess awareness amongst employees about security policies and procedures.


The frequency of internal audits can vary depending on the organization's risk profile and the level of maturity of its information security program. Generally, internal audits should be conducted at least once a year, but high-risk areas may require more frequent audits.

Additionally, internal audits should also be conducted in response to significant changes in the organization's information security environment or in response to a security incident.

Internal Audit Process

A typical Internal Audit includes the following processes:

Identify the scope of the audit.

  • Identify the scope of the audit.
  • Define the objectives and goals of the audit.
  • Develop a plan and a timeline.
  • Gather the necessary resources and tools.
  • Conduct the audit.
  • Prepare the audit report.
  • Communicate the results of the audit to management and stakeholders.
  • Follow up and ensure that any issues identified during the audit are addressed.

Once an Audit is completed, the respective teams have to prioritize and implement the recommendations from the audit. The Internal Audit team plans periodic follow-up audits to ensure the implementations are effective and sustained.


  • Identification of strengths and weaknesses in the organization's information security program.
  • Recommendations for improvements to security controls, policies, and procedures.
  • A prioritized action plan to address any identified security gaps or weaknesses.
  • Enhanced visibility and awareness of security risks and vulnerabilities.
  • Greater confidence in the effectiveness of security controls and compliance with relevant regulations and standards.

How can COMPASS help?

COMPASS is a niche light-weight Platform which can enhance your Internal Audit process and user experience.

Some of the benefits of using COMPASS are as follows:

  • Automate your audit process, including the collection and analysis of audit evidence.
  • Centralized data and documentation, making it easier to access and review.
  • Improved communication and collaboration between auditors and auditees. Streamlined reporting process, including the generation of audit reports.
  • Issues and exception tracking for all Audit issues identified.
  • Continuous monitoring and real-time visibility into security risks and compliance status.
  • Dashboards and analytics to support data-driven decision-making.
Article Written by
Bharat Srinivasaraghavan
COMPASS provides complete visibility into your security controls, a clear understanding of your compliance posture, and actionable recommendations to remediate issues, without any clutter.
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