Can an internal audit help prevent a cyberattack?

Organisations worldwide face increased security risks on many fronts, including social networking platforms, cloud computing (hacking) and the use of personal mobile devices by employees. However, many companies are not taking the necessary action – or increasing security awareness – to protect sensitive, private financial information or accounts.

Of course, Accru’s area of expertise is accounting, audit and business advisory services (not IT), but there are things we do to help businesses assess areas of risk. Some of these can help prevent – or at least quickly identify and respond to – a cyberattack that threatens data or financial well-being.

Regular internal audits of your finances by a third-party professional can protect your organisation from inside and outside attack and when used in partnership with the proper IT security measures, can help make your business much less vulnerable to threats.

What is an internal financial audit?

A financial audit examines a company’s systems, accounts and processes, including accounting practices, general ledger, bank statements and other sensitive financial information. A professional third-party auditor will ensure that all necessary accounts are present, updated, and posted correctly.

An auditor will also examine your controls policies to gauge the level of protection they provide from theft and fraud. Controls policies include things like:

  • Locked safes for cash and bank deposits
  • Separation of accounting duties by different employees
  • Password-protected software that tracks exactly who does what and when

At the conclusion of the investigation an auditor will provide recommendations, feedback and suggestions that can help:

  • Streamline and simplify procedures
  • Identify problems and risks, including security issues
  • Improve decision-making
  • Examine potential areas for improvements

In short, a thorough audit will help you identify areas of vulnerability in your business by exposing potential weaknesses. This will help determine whether your business may be susceptible to fraud or theft, which could result in a cyberattack.

Fraud, security and data mining

Businesseslose billions of dollars to fraud each year with reimbursements, billing and payroll schemes being the most common and most damaging. Fraud can be based inside or outside your organisation and can be a result of employee misconduct, hacking or both.

Fortunately, an internal auditor examines all areas of loss and carefully checks for potential fraud, detecting anomalies and looking for red flags that signify a security breach, hacking, duplicate payments, improper routing and more.  For example, a common scamming strategy is to email invoices that appear as if they’re from current customers, but with the bank details changed so payments go to a different bank account.

At Accru, our auditing teams use data analytics – ranked the best out of all fraud detection methods – to quickly spot issues such as:

  • Duplicate payments, invoices or employees
  • Fictitious suppliers or customers
  • Payments being processed outside of normal business hours
  • Interior or exterior security breaches
  • Unusual expenditures
  • Processing errors

Once we identify problems, we can work with IT professionals and business owners to create a strategy that focuses on anticipating and mitigating financial risks, as well as building organisational resilience against cyberattacks.

Interested in learning more about our internal auditing services? Contact us to discuss options that will help protect your business.

About the Author
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Ben Willington
Ben has run his own audit business since he was 28 after becoming one of the youngest Registered Company Auditors in Australia. He enjoys seeing the behind-the-scenes in a business and applying his business knowledge to come up with simple solutions to often complex problems, and works collaboratively with his clients.
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