The very mention of the words “regulatory audit” can send shivers down the spine of an organization’s IT management team. There can be a lot riding on the outcome of the audit in terms of the enterprise’s reputation and financial health. Tensions can be high as DBAs and other support staff are engaged to work with the audit team and provide them with the information they need to determine the outcome of the exercise.
Types of Regulatory Audits
Different groups may be assigned to execute an audit. They may be part of an internal team or from an outside organization. Audits can be performed for informational purposes or in response to specific events that have impacted an enterprise. There are three general categories of audits that your team may be called upon to address.
- First-party audits are self-inflicted exercises that are designed to test organizational procedures and methods against internal and/or external standards. The goal of this type of audit is to identify gaps or weaknesses that can be resolved before they impact the business. Large corporations often have teams dedicated to internal audits to keep the organization ready for more intensive investigations.
- Second-party audits are performed at the request of customers to ensure that a supplier is conforming to the terms of a contract or prospective agreement. These are more formal than first-party audits since the results can be instrumental in making purchasing decisions.
- Third-party audits are done by independent audit organizations with no affiliation or interest in the audited entity. These are the kinds of audits conducted by regulatory authorities to address real or perceived data privacy issues in the wake of a data breach. They can also be used to obtain certifications to be used as marketing tools that demonstrate a company is taking the necessary steps to protect its customers’ information.
Reasons for Audits
Regulatory auditors can show up at your data center for several reasons. Your organization’s response to the audit may be influenced by its motives.
- Client requested audits are used to determine if a vendor has the right procedures in place to protect a customer’s data. Failing this kind of audit usually results in a lost business opportunity.
- Specific industry regulations such as those imposed on financial services can be the impetus for audits. These will be conducted by third-parties with compliance certification the goal for the audited organization. First-party audits are helpful tools for preparing for this type of audit.
- First and third-party audits can be used by an enterprise to gain a competitive advantage. The ability to demonstrate compliance to potential customers can be a determining factor that influences their decision to work with a given company.
- Addressing security weaknesses before they manifest themselves as a data breach is a driving factor behind audits. As the cost of a data breach increases, this becomes more important than ever before.
Giving the Auditors What They Want
No matter the reason behind the audit or who is conducting it, passing it requires the audited organization to produce evidence of compliance with the standards that are being investigated. Service providers need to assure their customers that they are meeting data security and privacy guidelines. The ability to show prospective clients the results of a passed audit can be a major selling point that can help seal the deal. It can also be the difference between having to pay substantial fines for non-compliance with regulations such as GDPR.
Demonstrating compliance requires the right software tools that can produce reports that address auditors’ queries. IDERA’s SQL Compliance Manager is a valuable solution for maintaining and demonstrating compliance in SQL Server environments. It can discover the sensitive data that needs to be audited as well as track the activities of privileged users with access to auditable information.
Configurable auditing settings allow you to tailor SQL Compliance Manager to handle whatever type of sensitive data that lives in your SQL Servers. Templates are provided that cover a wide variety of industry standards such as PCI DSS, SOX, GDPR, and HIPAA. The templates can be customized to fit your needs and the application generates custom reports that will satisfy the requirements of the most demanding auditors. SQL Compliance Manager can help keep your physical and virtual SQL Servers located on-premises or in the cloud compliant with the regulations that affect your business.