As technology experts for K-12 schools, one of our most important responsibilities is helping the schools identify where they have operational and security gaps within technology. The best way to determine the state of your current environment is to employ an IT assessment from an unbiased third party.
A successful assessment includes an in-depth review of the school’s IT systems, processes, and policies to assess your compliance with industry standards and best practices. Here are 7 steps a thorough third-party assessment should follow:
Step 1: IT Policies and Procedures
It is critical to have policies and procedures that are clear, concise, and easily understood by all stakeholders. During an assessment, a third-party will review your school’s IT policies and procedures to ensure they are up-to-date, clearly written, and easily accessible to staff members and if any of this information needs to be updated or added.
Step 2: Conduct a Risk Assessment
A risk assessment of your school’s IT infrastructure is another important part of an IT audit. This assessment will identify potential vulnerabilities and threats, and gauge the likelihood of these risks occurring. A risk assessment also outlines the probability and impact of each risk and can help prioritize which risks to mitigate first.
Step 3: Document IT Processes and Procedures
In addition to reviewing IT policies and conducting a risk assessment, an audit will check for documentation for all IT processes and procedures. This documentation should be comprehensive and cover all aspects of your school’s IT infrastructure, including hardware, software, and networking. The documentation should also include information on implementing and maintaining IT processes and procedures.
Step 4: Verify Asset Inventory
An asset inventory is a detailed record of all IT equipment and software used in the school. During a third-party assessment, they will confirm that the technology inventory at your school is complete and accurate by conducting a physical inventory count and comparing the results to the asset register.
Step 5: Evaluate Data Management
Data management is a critical aspect of any IT audit. Confirming that your school’s data is stored, processed, and transmitted securely is essential. Your third-party assessor will review your school’s data management practices, including data backup and disaster recovery procedures to verify that your school has a plan to recover from a disaster, such as a natural disaster, power outage, or cyber attack.
Step 6: Review Access Controls
Access controls are essential to maintaining the security and privacy of your school’s IT infrastructure. In an IT audit, they will review your school’s access controls, including user accounts, passwords, and permissions in order to make sure that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive data and systems. If this isn’t already your school’s practice, set standards that ensure passwords are strong and changed regularly.
Step 7: Test Security Controls
Finally, an IT assessment will test your school’s security controls. This process includes testing firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other security measures. This testing aims to identify any weaknesses in your school’s security infrastructure and address them before the audit begins.
The prospect of an IT assessment at your school can seem intimidating, but they exist to help you minimize the risk of non-compliance and ensure the safety and security of your school’s IT infrastructure. We hope this article helps you understand what to expect when it is time for your audit.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the process, Technology Lab can help. We’ve helped 100+ K-12 schools navigate IT audits seamlessly, and with little time commitment from school stakeholders, by providing proven audit preparedness practices and CIPA compliance protocols. We can help get your school up to code and prevent little details from falling through the cracks. Request a Free Discovery Call with us today, and we can determine together if our IT Assessment is the right next step for your school.