What Is an Audit Trail, and Why Is It Important For Your Business?

When things go missing, money is stolen or fraud happens, the investigation usually involves finding answers to what, who, when, where, why and how of the event. But without a trail to follow or when a trail goes cold, the answers becomes elusive or none at all.

This is where an audit trail comes into play. Accounting has been using it since anyone can remember, and it has proven useful in IT and networking as well.

An audit trail involves keeping records of any and all activities of a system, from the operating system to user activities. Every event and activity in the system are recorded and monitored. And when the need arises, or when technical problems hit, IT support and other concerned parties can study the audit trail to find solutions.

Importance of an Audit Trail

It provides answers to questions revolving around a particular event. But that’s audit trail in a nutshell. For something that sounds so simple, it actually plays a vital role in any organization.

Security-related objectives

An audit of system resources is done to determine if there have been incidents of hacking or breach, and user activities that could lead to a networking security being compromised. A disgruntled employee, for example, could be deleting files or altering records. If such activities are detected earlier, security measures can be set up to prevent bigger and more expensive damage. An audit trail can help improve risk management.

Individual accountability

Using the same example as a disgruntled employee, if they have been previously advised about being accountable for their every action, they would take out their frustrations somewhere else, instead of messing up with the database or modifying records. Because they are aware that their every action is recorded in an audit log, a breach in individual accountability is a show of blatant disregard of security policies. Managers then have the right to take appropriate action against the employee, and IT and network security will be restored once more.

Reconstruction of events

How hackers infiltrated your computer system? The answer lies in an audit trail. By reviewing all the events that have taken place, you will be able to pinpoint who, why, when and how things happened as they did, as well as other details that you can use to reconstruct an event. This will make it easier to help differentiate between system-created errors and operator-induced errors. In the event that a system fails, audit trails will provide insights as to the steps taken by the system that resulted in a crash or system failure.

Detect intrusion

One of the most important functions of an audit trail is to identify any attempts to gain unauthorized access to a system, whether in real time or after the fact. If an intrusion is detected before, or while it is happening, further damage can be mitigated. If damage has already been done, audit trail will help assess the impact, and then review controls attacked in order to develop better, stronger security protocols.

The very fact that audit trails give you a clear view of anything related to an event that has taken place, it should be part of your network system. Find out how Branch Technologies can help you achieve this today. Contact us at 843-800-3043 or send us an email at [email protected] for more information.