One of the topics that we have been discussing with organizations a great deal lately is the idea of automation in regards to continuous auditing. Said a different way, the standard audit model involves auditors making a list of audit scopes that they want to cover in the course of a year. Then, one at a time, the auditor interviews people, examines the output from technical tools, and in general manually collects audit evidence.

What if the act of evidence collection could be automated? Then it would seem that auditors could spend less time collecting data and spend more time analyzing evidence for risk. Maybe even an auditor could consider additional scopes in the course of a year if less time was being spent manually collecting such evidence.

In the next few blog posts I’d like to consider tools that could be used to assist us in automating the collection of audit evidence. Ideally we would use tools suited to this purpose, but realistically I know many of us will be left on our own to develop tools that can accomplish this purpose. Therefore we will focus on scripts and built in operating system tools to achieve this end.

To begin this discussion, let’s identify some tools that we can use for these purposes. Next time we can start to delve into a couple of these at a time. But in the meanwhile, check these out as a way to automate data collection. Consider each of these a piece of a bigger recipe for continuous auditing.

Windows Automation Tools:

PowerShell (scripting language)

Task Scheduler (scheduling tasks)

Advanced Task Scheduler (scheduling tasks)

Blat (command line mailer)

Bmail (command line mailer)

Unix Automation Tools:

Bash Scripting (scripting language)

Cron (scheduling tasks)

Anacron (scheduling tasks)

Mail (command line mailer)

Mailsend (command line mailer)

As you can see this is just a start. We will need to use other tools to actually collect our data sets, but these tools will form the building blocks of each of our scripts. If you have other tools you would like to suggest, don’t be shy. We’d all love to hear what tools have helped you to be a more successful auditor.