The Best Method to Become a Security Auditor!

The Best Method to Become a Security Auditor!

Interested in learning how to become a cyber security auditor! Read on as you learn everything to get your auditing career started!

Table of Contents

Start your career in cyber security and auditing! Click below to find out more…

What Is a Cyber Security Auditor?

What Does a Cyber Security Auditor Do?

Information Systems Auditor vs Information Security Auditor

Internal Security Auditor vs External Security Auditor

Compliance Standards for Security Auditors

Information Security Auditor Job Description

Auditing Tools for Information Security

Cyber Security Auditor Skills

Cyber Security Auditor Salary

How to Become a Cyber Security Auditor?

IT Security Auditor Career Path


What Is a Cyber Security Auditor?

A cyber security auditor assesses an organization’s information security program from a top-down perspective to ensure compliance with a specified cyber security framework.

What Does a Cyber Security Auditor Do?

The auditor will analyze the presence of an enterprise’s data and information to determine if it is protected appropriately by:

1) Assessing whether the organization has proper controls in place to regulate data access

2) Determining if those controls are appropriate based on its policies and procedures

3) Ensuring that the controls being implemented to protect their data and assets are effective

4) If weaknesses are found, the auditor will make recommendations regarding what corrective actions should be taken, normally involving documenting processes and procedures, additional training for employees or upgrades to hardware or software.

Information Systems Auditor vs Information Security Auditor

It’s important to understand that both job titles are not interchangeable. In general, there are many similarities between the two roles: both positions involve auditing computer systems for the purpose of ensuring accuracy and risk reduction. However, the key difference is the nature of their roles:

Information Systems Auditor (aka IT Auditor)

During an information systems audit, the auditor is concerned with the efficiency of the company’s information systems.

Information Security Auditor

During IT security auditing, the auditor is concerned with the security of the company’s information systems and not its efficiency.

Internal Security Auditor vs External Security Auditor

There are two types of security auditors, external and internal. Let’s look at both:

External Security Auditor

An external auditor is a third-party agent whose purpose is to validate a company’s compliance with a government or regulatory requirement.

Internal Security Auditor

An internal auditor can either be an employee or third-party consultant hired to perform audit functions to help the organization maintain compliance with an external audit.

For example, if a company wants to be ISO 27001 certified, they may hire an internal auditor to identify deficiencies in their IT policies, procedures, and controls, who then works with the company to bring them into compliance. The external auditor would then validate that the company has made the necessary adjustments to their information system practices to meet the requirements of ISO 27001 certification.

Compliance Standards for Security Auditors

While a company can choose from any set of cyber security frameworks to adhere, they might be required by law to follow a specific framework. For instance, medical facilities are required by law to follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) dictating how personally identifiable information should be maintained by the healthcare industry.

While there are many frameworks or laws for which a company may follow, some of the more common ones are:

ISO/IEC 27001

NIST Cyber Security Framework (CSF)

NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-53

CIS Critical Security Controls

As an auditor in the US, you’ll find that these four frameworks are worth learning. To make it easier, you’ll find some overlap between them.

Information Security Auditor Job Description

While information security auditor responsibilities will often vary from role-to-role, the following lists your daily activities in four steps:

Security Assessment Plan Preparation

Prior to conducting an audit, the auditor must prepare for the assessment. You’ll need to be familiar with the organization’s operation and structure as well as the key stakeholders involved in the audit. Additionally, you’ll need to work with executive teams to determine the objective, scope, and length of the assessment. Be prepared to gather all the necessary documentation, status of operations, and other facts required to consider as part of the assessment.

Security Assessment Plan Development

During the development of a security assessment plan, the auditor will determine what security controls are to be included as part of the audit. The procedures for the assessment are selected and tailored to the environment, even if that means developing new procedures. Assessment procedures are then optimized and finalized with organizational approval.

The assessment plan will include any vulnerabilities or security gaps that you’ve identified, measures that can be implemented to mitigate those vulnerabilities and gaps, as well as reporting procedures.

Security Assessment Plan Performance

After the plan’s development, you’ll begin auditing the system for those controls having been identified as part of the assessment plan. This includes documenting the outcome of the controls’ effectiveness and any deficiencies.

Security Assessment Performance Review

During the review period, the findings of the assessment report are reviewed. At this time, auditors will collaborate with the executive team to understand and formally plan for methods to address deficiencies and manage the organization’s risk. As needed, the auditor may be required to run through multiple iterations of these four steps.

While the above four steps were sampled from NIST, you can be sure that these steps are common to any IT security job description.

Auditing Tools for Information Security

There are multiple cyber security audit and compliance tools that are used to provide reports for your audit. Each tool serves a specific purpose within the information system. Here are the common tools used by security auditors:

Code Scanning Tools scan for broken or low-quality coding issues that may cause vulnerabilities to arise.

Network Scanning Tools scan the network for vulnerabilities as well as network traffic for possible security threats.

Vulnerability Scanning Tools checks the system for any potential points of unauthorized access that will allow the possibility of a security breach.

SIEM Tools integrate multiple security tools and are able to correlate security events to alert users to real-time threats.

Though you’re not required to know how to use these tools, you do need to understand how to interpret the reports generated from such tools.

Cyber Security Auditor Skills

The skills needed for a cyber security auditor job can be broken down into several categories.

Interpersonal Skills

While evaluating the company’s security posture, you’ll be working with multiple personnel, some of whom are used to doing things a different way. Unfortunately, your role is somewhat intrusive in nature which may not be appreciated by all those involved. As a result, having empathy is essential in your role, especially for those with limited resources or lack of knowledge in your area of expertise.

Technical Skills

Being technically savvy is part of the job. Information security is highly technical in nature, so you’ll need a deep understanding of how information systems operate as well as a solid understanding of how to interpret security audit tools.

Analytical Skills

Vital when performing your role as an auditor as you need to have a keen eye for details and be inquisitive. You’ll be required to gather and analyze information from various sources such as information systems; security documentation; personnel interviews; and security procedures, processes, and controls to understand where deficiencies are present.

Presentation Skills

Expect to present your findings to leadership regardless of the outcome. The ability to present usually requires a bit of finesse; you’ll be speaking to personnel that may not understand the technical language or might have difficulty in accepting your findings.


Conducting an audit can take a few weeks to months. Leadership teams will expect you to provide them with continuous status updates. During that time, you’ll have an enormous amount of information from which to gather and process which can be tedious.

Cyber Security Auditor Salary

Based on the average “information security auditor” salary for the first three websites listed below, you can expect to earn an average of $108k/year. Salary range falls between $100k to $142k and averages $114k

ZipRecruiter: Salary range falls between $63k to $124k and averages $93k

Glassdoor: Salary range falls between $78k to $194k and averages $117k

PayScale: Salary range falls between $55k to $103k and averages $72k (for IT Auditor)

How to Become a Cyber Security Auditor?

If you’re truly interested in learning how to become an information security auditor, one of the best methods to get a job is to gain experience first. Regardless of whether you have a degree or any other certification, experience is an absolute must!

And, while you might get lucky and obtain a junior or associate level cyber security auditing position, you’ll always be second best to someone that already has a background in IT auditing. If you’re having trouble finding a role, look below at an alternative step to become a security auditor.

IT Security Auditor Career Path

Apply for an IT Audit Role

If you can’t find a job as an information security auditor, then don’t waste too much time. The next best method, as counter intuitive as it may seem, is to find a job working in IT auditing, not information security.

Is IT audit a good career? Yes, as an IT auditor, you’ll gain enough experience to pick up some security knowledge along the way. As an added benefit, there are more job opportunities as an IT auditor then IS auditing. For example, a quick search of Indeed showed approximately 750 jobs for “Information Systems Auditor -security” vs ~100 jobs available for “Information Security Auditor”.

Get Your Security+ Certification

Before you even think about moving into information security, you’ll need your very first certification, the CompTIA Security+. The good thing about this certification is that it doesn’t require any experience and immediately gives you some infosec credibility.

Become a Certified Cyber Security Auditor

Once you’ve had sufficient experience as an IT auditor and have passed the Security+ exam, you’ll want to make the move into information security and audit. It’s at this point you’ll want to consider taking one of the following certifications to appear more serious about your auditing career:

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

GIAC Systems and Network Auditor (GSNA)

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

Information Security Audit Training

Though it’s not required, you might want to take a security audit course if you’re having trouble getting certified. There you’ll be trained to understand the security aspect of auditing which may or may not be associated with any certification program. Here are a few programs to get you started in the right direction:

Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)

The SANS Institute

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)

Information Security Management System (ISMS)

Regardless of your choice, as always, I recommend going with an officially authorized information security auditor training program if you’re goal is to pass a certification exam; otherwise find a program that’s been certified by an accredited body. You can find a list of accreditation bodies by country along with the certification body listed here:

IAF Certification Validation – IAF CertSearch

Apply for Security-Focused IT Audit Roles

If at this point you’re still having trouble obtaining infosec auditing roles, start by making the move into IT auditing roles that have some focus on security. By doing this you now get to work with a mix of responsibilities. Then, if you feel successful at the job, you’re now only a step away from getting a full information security auditing role!

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by Amit Doshi

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What Is the CISA Exam? (Everything You Wanted to Know!)

What Is the CISA Exam? (Everything You Wanted to Know!)

What is the CISA exam? If you’re wondering whether the CISA (Certified Information System Auditor) certification is right for your career, then read on as this article provides comprehensive answers to your CISA related questions.

My Opinion

Is CISA a good certification? Absolutely yes, earning a CISA certification is well worth it.

It’s also a great way to boost your resume and increase your chances of landing a job. This is especially true if you’re interested in pursuing a career in IT auditing or security auditing.

Becoming a CISA Auditor can open up career opportunities for you while giving you the distinction of being globally recognized, trusted, and respected in your field. Just to give you an idea of its popularity, it’s the 3rd most requested security certification in the industry.

However, like any other security certification, passing and renewing the CISA certification requires money, time, and most importantly, effort!

CISA Certifications are the 3rd Most Requested Certifications

Table of Contents

Want to know what is the CISA exam? Click below to find out more!

What Is the Certified Information System Auditor Exam?

What Does It Mean to Be a Certified Information System Auditor?

CISA Certification Benefits

How Much Does a CISA Make?

CISA Certification Requirements

CISA Exam Domains

How Many Questions Is the CISA Exam?

How Much Is CISA Certification?

What Is the Certified Information System Auditor Exam?

The certified information system auditor exam is a certification offered by the International Society for Advancement of Cybersecurity (ISACA) and accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which is a third-party entity responsible for the accreditation of the CISA designation and verification of the standards of this certification.

The CISA certification is a professional credential awarded after passing a rigorous examination certifying that an individual possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform audits of IT systems and processes.

To give you a bit of background on the CISA certification, there are over 151,000 CISA certificate holders globally earning an average salary of over $110,000.

The CISA credential also serves as a foundation for other certifications such as the Certified Security Manager (CSM), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Certified Penetration Tester (CPENT).

A CISA certification acknowledges that an individual has met certain requirements for demonstrating competency in information security management.

These requirements include knowledge of information security policies, processes, procedures, and standards, as well as understanding of the organization’s mission, vision, values, goals, and objectives.

The core purpose of this certification is to provide individuals, who manage or support information security programs within organizations, with the skills necessary to identify and mitigate risks associated with the implementation and operation of information systems.

What Does It Mean to Be a Certified Information System Auditor?

Certified Information Systems Auditors are professionals who perform security audits of computer systems and networks.

Certified Information Systems Auditors are responsible for ensuring that their organization’s security posture is robust enough to protect against cyber threats.

They have the ability to identify vulnerabilities in critical organizational network infrastructures and the skills to implement appropriate security countermeasures.

In addition, they can help prevent data breaches through effective monitoring and detection of suspicious activities.

CISA Certification Benefits

You’ll be able to offer valuable services to companies and organizations that want to protect their networks from cyber threats.

You’ll also have access to resources that can help you stay current with industry trends and best security practices.

Of course, by becoming a Certified Information Systems Auditor you’ll help to advance your own career and earn a higher pay.

In addition to the above, there are several other benefits of becoming CISA certified, which include:

  • Recognition from peers and employers that you possess the knowledge and skills necessary to perform your job function
  • A competitive edge over other candidates seeking employment in the field
  • An opportunity to advance your career through additional education and certification
  • Increased salary potential and job opportunities
  • High job security and career advancement opportunities

Benefits of Certified Information System Auditor

How Much Does a CISA Make?

CISA Certification is among some of the most high-paying IT certifications.

Earning the certification can help you secure high-paying jobs such as:

  • Internal Auditor
  • Public Accounting Auditor
  • Information Systems Analyst
  • IT Audit Manager
  • Project Manager
  • IT Security Officer
  • Security Auditor

The average CISA salary can depend on several factors, such as experience, job title, location, employer size, and the responsibilities of the position.

According to Payscale, the annual base salary of a senior IT Auditor ranges between $70,000 and $112,000.

CISA Certification Requirements

CISA certification requires 5 years of experience as an auditor, controller, or security specialist.

Experience must include at least one year of Information Systems (IS) experience.

A maximum of 3 years of experience may be waived if the applicant has a master’s degree in IS or IT.

Candidates can also download a CISA exam guide to learn more about the eligibility and the exam process.

CISA Exam Domains

The CISA Certification exam is designed to help IT & Cyber professionals gain a deeper understanding of their role as a CISA.

Additionally, you’ll learn about best practices for conducting effective audits.

CISA certification is awarded to candidates with at least five years of relevant work experience and who pass the examination based on five knowledge domains. Read here to find out the truth behind cybersecurity domains!

Should you decide to take this exam, demonstrate your ability to identify risks and vulnerabilities in an organization’s information systems.

Furthermore, each domain of the CISA exam has a specific exam weight that is listed below:

Domain 1: Information System Auditing Process 21%
Domain 2: Governance and Management of IT 17%
Domain 3: Information Systems Acquisition, Development and Implementation 12%
Domain 4: Information Systems Operations and Business Resilience 23%
Domain 5: Protection of Information Assets 27%


Certified Information System Auditor Exam Domains

Domain 1 – The Process of Audit

The first domain tests your ability to identify the purpose of an audit.

This means understanding and recognizing the differences between internal and external audits.

You are tested on your understanding of the various types of audits including financial, operational, compliance, risk management, and strategic.

Domain 2 – Governance and Management of Information Technology

The second domain tests your understanding of how information technology (IT) governance affects the organization’s overall success.

You need to know what roles are involved in IT governance and how they interact with each other.

Furthermore, you should also know how IT governance impacts the business processes and operations of the organization.

Domain 3 – Information Systems Acquisition, Development & Implementation

In this third domain, you will learn about the acquisition, development, implementation, and maintenance of information systems.

You’ll be tested on the entire lifecycle of an information system.

This also includes knowing the role of stakeholders through the lifecycle and the importance of planning and budgeting.

Domain 4 – Information Systems Operations

The fourth domain is about information systems operations, maintenance and support.

Candidates are expected to have knowledge of the following topics:

  • Maintenance and support operations
  • Software applications
  • System administration
  • Networking

Domain 5 – Protection of Information Assets

Finally, the fifth domain assesses the ability to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, destruction, or loss.

This includes identifying risks associated with the handling of confidential information, and the ability to prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from security incidents.

How Many Questions Is the CISA Exam?

Available in eleven languages, the CISA exam lasts four hours and consists of 150 multiple-choice questions.

The exam scores on a scale between 200 and 800, and candidates must score a minimum 450 to pass the exam.

When preparing for the CISA Exam, you should get a feel for the type of questions the CISA exam asks. Though it’s not much, ISACA has provided a practice quiz.

For more practice, you can check out ITExamable’s free CISA tests which contain 30 CISA tests, each with 30 questions, and a 150-question mock test.

How Much Is CISA Certification?

The CISA exam costs $575 for ISACA members and $760 for everyone else; this doesn’t include the $50 application fee.

Unfortunately, there are also ongoing maintenance costs associated with a CISA certification.

The certification maintenance cost ranges from $45 for ISACA members to $85 non-ISACA members annually; however, there’s more.

A certification holder must also acquire a minimum amount of 20 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) credits per year and 120 hours every three years in order to retain the CISA certification.

ISACA offers various conferences and training sessions throughout the year allowing you to accumulate CPE’s; unfortunately, unless your company is paying for these events, it can get quite expensive.

ISACA conferences alone cost a few hundred dollars, while signing up for a training session can set you back several thousand dollars!

So, the best and cheapest way to maintain your CPEs is by attending as many free (or low cost) webinars and training sessions as you can find.

Luckily, ISACA offers up to 72 free CPE hours annually for members.

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by Amit Doshi

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