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Managing Information Security: Demystifying the Audit Process for Security Officers



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Journal of Information Systems Security
Volume 2, Number 2 (2006)
Pages 2545
ISSN 1551-0123 (Print)
ISSN 1551-0808 (Online)
Sanjay Goel — University at Albany, USA
Damira Pon — University at Albany, USA
Jack Menzies — USA
Information Institute Publishing, Washington DC, USA




This case examines the process that organizations follow during a security audit by external auditors. The audit process usually consists of several phases, starting with preparing for an audit, working with the auditors, and finally implementing auditor recommendations to fill gaps in the policies and procedures. Typically, auditors examine organizational policies in context of current industry standards to identify gaps in the policy. The policy implementation is then reviewed through analysis of data in logs, interviews with personnel, and occasionally using penetration testing on the network. While this is a routine process, it can be stressful for security officers who consider weaknesses in organizational security as personal failures. As a result, an adversarial relationship if often formed between auditors and the security officers. Most past studies have focused on the role and conduct of an auditor in the audit process. The purpose of this paper is to help security officers prepare for an audit with a systems approach that reduces subjectivity. Best practices are elucidated through the case of an audit in a large educational institution. The processes and procedures laid out are not limited to educational institutions and are appropriate for any domain. Proper preparation will assist organizations in using an audit constructively for improving their organizational security posture. This paper presents a methodical approach for a security officer to follow during the security audit of the organization in context of a large public university.




Security Policy, Auditing, Risk Analysis, Information Assurance, Security Management




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