Computer based information systems controls
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Computer-Based Information Systems Controls. Learning Objectives. Describe the threats to an AIS and discuss why these threats are growing. Explain the basic concepts of control as applied to business organizations.

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Computer based information systems controls

Computer-Based Information Systems Controls

Anup Kumar Saha


Learning objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the threats to an AIS and discuss why these threats are growing.

  • Explain the basic concepts of control as applied to business organizations.

  • Describe the major elements in the control environment of a business organization.


Learning objectives continued

Learning Objectives, continued

  • Describe control policies and procedures commonly used in business organizations.

  • Evaluate a system of internal accounting control, identify its deficiencies, and prescribe modifications to remedy those deficiencies.

  • Conduct a cost-benefit analysis for particular threats, exposures, risks, and controls.


Introduction

Introduction

  • Jason Scott has been hired as an internal auditor for Northwest Industries, a diversified forest products company.

  • He is assigned to audit Springer’s Lumber & Supply, Northwest’s building materials outlet in Montana.


Introduction1

Introduction

  • His supervisor, Maria Pilier, has asked him to trace a sample of purchase transactions to verify that proper control procedures were followed. Jason becomes frustrated with this task.

  • Why is Jason frustrated?

    • The purchasing system is poorly documented.

    • He keeps finding transactions that have not been processed as Ed Yates, the accounts payable manager, said they should be.


Introduction2

Introduction

Jason’s frustrations, continued

  • Some vendor invoices have been paid without supporting documents.

  • Purchase requisitions are missing for several items that had been authorized by Bill Springer, purchasing v.p.

  • Prices charged for some items seem unusually high.

  • Springer’s is the largest supplier in the area and has a near monopoly.

  • Management authority is concentrated in the company president, Joe Springer, and his sons Bill, the purchasing v.p., and Ted, the controller.

  • Maria feels that Ted may have engaged in “creative accounting.”


Introduction3

Introduction

  • Jason ponders the following issues:

    • Should he describe the unusual transactions in his report?

    • Is a violation of proper control procedures acceptable if it has been authorized by management?

    • Regarding Jason’s assignment, does he have a professional or ethical responsibility to get involved?


Introduction4

Introduction

  • This chapter discusses the types of threats a company faces.

  • It also presents the five interrelated components of the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (COSO’s) internal control model.


Learning objective 1

Learning Objective 1

Describe the threats to an AIS and discuss why these threats are growing.


Threats to accounting information systems

Threats to Accounting Information Systems

  • What are examples of natural and politicaldisasters?

    • fire or excessive heat

    • floods

    • earthquakes

    • high winds

    • war


Threats to accounting information systems1

Threats to Accounting Information Systems

  • What are examples of software errors andequipment malfunctions?

    • hardware failures

    • power outages and fluctuations

    • undetected data transmission errors


Threats to accounting information systems2

Threats to Accounting Information Systems

  • What are examples of unintentional acts?

    • accidents caused by human carelessness

    • innocent errors of omissions

    • lost or misplaced data

    • logic errors

    • systems that do not meet company needs


Threats to accounting information systems3

Threats to Accounting Information Systems

  • What are examples of intentional acts?

    • sabotage

    • computer fraud

    • embezzlement


Why are ais threats increasing

Why are AIS Threats Increasing?

  • Increasing numbers of client/server systems mean that information is available to an unprecedented number of workers.

  • Because LANs and client/server systems distribute data to many users, they are harder to control than centralized mainframe systems.

  • WANs are giving customers and suppliers access to each other’s systems and data, making confidentiality a concern.


Learning objective 2

Learning Objective 2

Explain the basic concepts of control as applied to business organizations.


Overview of control concepts

Overview of Control Concepts

What is the traditional definition of internal control?

Internal control is the plan of organization and the methods a business uses to safeguard assets, provide accurate and reliable information, promote and improve operational efficiency, and encourage adherence to prescribed managerial policies.


Overview of control concepts1

Overview of Control Concepts

  • What is management control?

  • Management control encompasses the following three features:

  • It is an integral part of management responsibilities.

  • It is designed to reduce errors, irregularities, and achieve organizational goals.

  • It is personnel-oriented and seeks to help employees attain company goals.


Internal control classifications

Internal Control Classifications

  • The specific control procedures used in the internal control and management control systems may be classified using the following four internal control classifications:

    • Preventive, detective, and corrective controls

    • General and application controls

    • Administrative and accounting controls

    • Input, processing, and output controls


The foreign corrupt practices act

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

  • In 1977, Congress incorporated language from an AICPA pronouncement into the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

  • The primary purpose of the act was to prevent the bribery of foreign officials in order to obtain business.

  • A significant effect of the act was to require corporations to maintain good systems of internal accounting control.


Committee of sponsoring organizations

Committee of Sponsoring Organizations

  • The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (COSO) is a private sector group consisting of five organizations:

    • American Accounting Association

    • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

    • Institute of Internal Auditors

    • Institute of Management Accountants

    • Financial Executives Institute


Committee of sponsoring organizations1

Committee of Sponsoring Organizations

  • In 1992, COSO issued the results of a study to develop a definition of internal controls and to provide guidance for evaluating internal control systems.

  • The report has been widely accepted as the authority on internal controls.


Committee of sponsoring organizations2

Committee of Sponsoring Organizations

  • The COSO study defines internal control as the process implemented by the board of directors, management, and those under their direction to provide reasonable assurance that control objectives are achieved with regard to:

    • effectiveness and efficiency of operations

    • reliability of financial reporting

    • compliance with applicable laws and regulations


Committee of sponsoring organizations3

Committee of Sponsoring Organizations

  • COSO’s internal control model has five crucial components:

    • Control environment

    • Control activities

    • Risk assessment

    • Information and communication

    • Monitoring


Information systems audit and control foundation

Information Systems Auditand Control Foundation

  • The Information Systems Audit and Control Foundation (ISACF) recently developed the Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT).

  • COBIT consolidates standards from 36 different sources into a single framework.

  • The framework addresses the issue of control from three vantage points, or dimensions:


Information systems audit and control foundation1

Information Systems Auditand Control Foundation

  • Information: needs to conform to certain criteria that COBIT refers to as business requirements for information

  • IT resources: people, application systems, technology, facilities, and data

  • IT processes: planning and organization, acquisition and implementation, delivery and support, and monitoring


Learning objective 3

Learning Objective 3

Describe the major elements in the control environment of a business organization.


The control environment

The Control Environment

  • The first component of COSO’s internal control model is the control environment.

  • The control environment consists of many factors, including the following:

    • Commitment to integrity and ethical values

    • Management’s philosophy and operating style

    • Organizational structure


The control environment1

The Control Environment

  • The audit committee of the board of directors

  • Methods of assigning authority and responsibility

  • Human resources policies and practices

  • External influences


Learning objective 4

Learning Objective 4

Describe control policies and procedures commonly used in business organizations.


Control activities

Control Activities

  • The second component of COSO’s internal control model is control activities.

  • Generally, control procedures fall into one of five categories:

    • Proper authorization of transactions and activities

    • Segregation of duties


Control activities1

Control Activities

  • Design and use of adequate documents and records

  • Adequate safeguards of assets and records

  • Independent checks on performance


Proper authorization of transactions and activities

Proper Authorization of Transactions and Activities

  • Authorization is the empowerment management gives employees to perform activities and make decisions.

  • Digital signatureor fingerprint is a means of signing a document with a piece of data that cannot be forged.

  • Specific authorizationis the granting of authorization by management for certain activities or transactions.


Segregation of duties

Segregation of Duties

  • Good internal control demands that no single employee be given too much responsibility.

  • An employee should not be in a position to perpetrate and conceal fraud or unintentional errors.


Segregation of duties1

Custodial Functions

Handling cash

Handling assets

Writing checks

Receiving checks in mail

Authorization Functions

Authorization of

transactions

Recording Functions

Preparing source documents

Maintaining journals

Preparing reconciliations

Preparing performance reports

Segregation of Duties


Segregation of duties2

Segregation of Duties

  • If two of these three functions are the responsibility of a single person, problems can arise.

  • Segregation of duties prevents employees from falsifying records in order to conceal theft of assets entrusted to them.

  • Prevent authorization of a fictitious or inaccurate transaction as a means of concealing asset thefts.


Segregation of duties3

Segregation of Duties

Segregation of duties prevents an employee from falsifying records to cover up an inaccurate or false transaction that was inappropriately authorized.


Design and use of adequate documents and records

Design and Use of Adequate Documents and Records

  • The proper design and use of documents and records helps ensure the accurate and complete recording of all relevant transaction data.

  • Documents that initiate a transaction should contain a space for authorization.


Design and use of adequate documents and records1

Design and Use of Adequate Documents and Records

  • The following procedures safeguard assets from theft, unauthorized use, and vandalism:

    • effectively supervising and segregating duties

    • maintaining accurate records of assets, including information

    • restricting physical access to cash and paper assets

    • having restricted storage areas


Adequate safeguards of assets and records

Adequate Safeguards ofAssets and Records

  • What can be used to safeguard assets?

    • cash registers

    • safes, lockboxes

    • safety deposit boxes

    • restricted and fireproof storage areas

    • controlling the environment

    • restricted access to computer rooms, computer files, and information


Independent checks on performance

Independent Checkson Performance

Independent checks ensure that transactions are processed accurately are another important control element.


Independent checks on performance1

Independent Checkson Performance

  • What are various types of independent checks?

    • reconciliation of two independently maintained sets of records

    • comparison of actual quantities with recorded amounts

    • double-entry accounting

    • batch totals


Independent checks on performance2

Independent Checkson Performance

  • Five batch totals are used in computer systems:

    • A financial total is the sum of a dollar field.

    • A Cash total is the sum of a field that would usually not be added.


Independent checks on performance3

Independent Checkson Performance

  • A record count is the number of documents processed.

  • A line count is the number of lines of data entered.

  • A cross-footing balance test compares the grand total of all the rows with the grand total of all the columns to check that they are equal.


Learning objective 5

Learning Objective 5

Evaluate a system of internal accounting control, identify its deficiencies, and prescribe modifications to remedy those deficiencies.


Risk assessment

Risk Assessment

  • The third component of COSO’s internal control model is risk assessment.

  • Companies must identify the threats they face:

    • strategic — doing the wrong thing

    • financial — having financial resources lost, wasted, or stolen

    • information — faulty or irrelevant information, or unreliable systems


Risk assessment1

Risk Assessment

  • Companies that implement electronic data interchange (EDI) must identify the threats the system will face, such as:

    • Choosing an inappropriate technology

    • Unauthorized system access

    • Tapping into data transmissions

    • Loss of data integrity


Risk assessment2

Risk Assessment

  • Incomplete transactions

  • System failures

  • Incompatible systems


Risk assessment3

Risk Assessment

Some threats pose a greater risk because the probability of their occurrence is more likely. For example:

  • A company is more likely to be the victim of a computer fraud rather than a terrorist attack.

  • Risk and exposure must be considered together.


Learning objective 6

Learning Objective 6

Conduct a cost-benefit analysis for particular threats, exposures, risks, and controls.


Estimate cost and benefits

Estimate Cost and Benefits

  • No internal control system can provide foolproof protection against all internal control threats.

  • The cost of a foolproof system would be prohibitively high.

  • One way to calculate benefits involves calculating expected loss.


Estimate cost and benefits1

Estimate Cost and Benefits

  • The benefit of a control procedure is the difference between the expected loss with the control procedure(s) and the expected loss without it.

Expected loss = risk × exposure


Information and communication

Information and Communication

  • The fourth component of COSO’s internal control model is information and communication.


Information and communication1

Information and Communication

  • Accountants must understand the following:

    • How transactions are initiated

    • How data are captured in machine-readable form or converted from source documents

    • How computer files are accessed and updated

    • How data are processed to prepare information

    • How information is reported

    • How transactions are initiated


Information and communication2

Information and Communication

  • All of these items make it possible for the system to have an audit trail.

  • An audit trail exists when individual company transactions can be traced through the system.


Monitoring performance

Monitoring Performance

  • The fifth component of COSO’s internal control model is monitoring.

  • What are the key methods of monitoring performance?

    • effective supervision

    • responsibility accounting

    • internal auditing


Case conclusion

Case Conclusion

  • What happened to Jason’s report?

  • A high-level internal audit team was dispatched to Montana.

  • The team discovered that the problems identified by Jason occurred almost exclusively in transactions with three large vendors from whom Springer’s had purchased several million dollars of inventory.


Case conclusion1

Case Conclusion

  • One of the Springers held a significant ownership interest in each of these three companies.

  • They also found evidence that several of Springer’s employees were paid for more hours than documented by timekeeping, and that inventories were overstated.

  • Northwest settled the case with the Springers.


Computer based information systems controls

End of Topic


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