What do you understand by the term Disaster? What are the audit tools and techniques used by a system auditor to ensure that disaster recovery plan is in order? Briefly explain them.

A Management Information System ICT Revision Questions and Answers

The attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001 has created a worldwide alert bringing focus on business continuity planning and environmental controls. Audit of environment controls should form a critical part of every IS audit plan. The IS auditor should satisfy not only the effectiveness of various technical controls but that the overall controls assure safeguarding the business against environmental risks. Some of the critical audit considerations that an IS auditor should take into account while conducting his audit are given below:

As part of risk assessment:
• The risk profile should include the different kinds of environmental risks that the organization is exposed to. These should comprise both natural and man-made threats. The profile should be periodically reviewed to ensure updation with newer risk that may arise.
• The controls assessment must ascertain that controls safeguard the organization against all acceptable risks including probable ones and are in place.
• The security policy of the organization should be reviewed to access policies and procedures that safeguard the organization against environmental risks.
• Building plans and wiring plans need to be reviewed to determine the appropriateness of location of IPF, review of surroundings, power and cable wiring etc.
• The IS Auditor should interview relevant personnel to satisfy himself about employees‘ awareness of environmental threats and controls, role of the interviewee in environmental control procedures such as prohibited activities in IPF, incident handling, and evacuation procedures to determine if adequate incident reporting procedures exist.
• Administrative procedures such as preventive maintenance plans and their implementation, incident reporting and handling procedures, inspection and testing plan and procedures need to be reviewed.

The term disaster can be defined as an incident which jeopardizes business operations and/or human life. It could be due to sabotage (human) or natural. Following is the procedural plans for disaster recovery.
Audit tools and techniques used by a system auditor to ensure that the disaster recovery plan is in order, are briefly discussed below:

The best audit tool and technique is a periodic simulation of a disaster. Other audit techniques would include observations, interviews, checklists, inquiries, meetings, questionnaires and documentation reviews. These are categorized as follows:
i. Automated tools: They make it possible to review large computer systems for a variety of flaws in a short time period. They can be used to find threats and vulnerabilities such as weak access controls, weak passwords, and lack of integrity of the system software.
ii. Internal Control auditing: This includes inquiry, observation and testing. The process can detect illegal acts, errors, irregularities or lack of compliance for laws and regulations.
iii. Disaster and Security Checklists: These checklists are used to audit the system. The checklists should be based upon disaster recovery policies and practices, which form the baseline. Checklists can also be used to verify changes to the system from contingency point of view.
iv. Penetration Testing: It is used to locate vulnerabilities to the system.

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