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Computer-aided audit tools

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This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an
encyclopedic description of the subject. Pleasehelp improve it by rewriting it in
an encyclopedic style. (August 2009)
'Computer-assisted audit techniques (CAATs) or computer-assisted audit tools and techniques (CAATTs) is a
growing field within the audit profession. CAATs is the practice of using computers to automate the audit
process. CAATs normally includes using basic office productivity software such as spreadsheet, word
processors and text editing programs and more advanced software packages involving use statistical
analysis and business intelligence tools. But also more dedicated specialized software are available (see
below).
CAATs have become synonymous with data analytics in the audit process.
Contents
[hide]
1 Traditional auditing vs CAATs
o 1.1 Traditional audit example
o 1.2 CAATTs alternative
o 1.3 Traditional audit vs CAATTs on specific risks
2 Specialized software
3 Other uses of CAATs
o 3.1 Creation of electronic work papers
o 3.2 Fraud detection
o 3.3 Analytical tests
o 3.4 Data analysis reports
o 3.5 Continuous monitoring
o 3.6 Curb stoning in surveys
o 3.7 Note on the acronyms CAATTs vs CAATs
4 See also
5 External links
6 References
Traditional auditing vs CAATs[edit]
Traditional audit example[edit]
The traditional method of auditing allows auditors to build conclusions based upon a limited sample of a
population, rather than an examination of all available or a large sample of data. The use of small samples may
diminish the validity of audit conclusions. Management realizes that they conduct thousands or perhaps
millions of transactions a year and the auditor only sampled a handful. The auditor will then state that they
conducted the sample based upon generally accepted audit standards (GAAS) and that their sample was
statistically valid.
Another common criticism of the audit profession occurs after a problem emerges. Whenever a problem
emerges within a department, management might ask, "Where were the auditors?" This is a futile question,
because nobody can see beyond the present.
CAATTs alternative[edit]
CAATTs, not CAATs, addresses these problems. CAATTs, as it is commonly used, is the practice of analyzing
large volumes of data looking for anomalies. A well designed CAATTs audit will not be a sample, but rather a
complete review of all transactions. Using CAATTs the auditor will extract every transaction the business unit
performed during the period reviewed. The auditor will then test that data to determine if there are any
problems in the data. For example, using CAATTs the auditor can find invalid Social Security Numbers (SSN)
by comparing the SSN to the issuing criteria of the social security administration. The CAATTs auditor could
also easily look for duplicate vendors or transactions. When such a duplicate is identified, they can approach
management with the knowledge that they tested 100% of the transactions and that they identified 100% of the
exceptions.
Traditional audit vs CAATTs on specific risks[edit]
Another advantage of CAATs is that it allows auditors to test for specific risks. For example, an insurance
company may want to ensure that it doesn't pay any claims after a policy is terminated. Using traditional audit
techniques this risk would be very difficult to test. The auditor would "randomly select" a "statistically valid"
sample of claims (usually 3050.) They would then check to see if any of those claims were processed after a
policy was terminated. Since the insurance company might process millions of claims the odds that any of
those 3050 "randomly selected" claims occurred after the policy was terminated is extremely unlikely.
Using CAATTs the auditor can select every claim that had a date of service after the policy termination date.
The auditor then can determine if any claims were inappropriately paid. If they were, the auditor can then figure
out why the controls to prevent this failed. In a real life audit, the CAATTs auditor noted that a number of claims
had been paid after policies were terminated. Using CAATTs the auditor was able to identify every claim that
was paid and the exact dollar amount incorrectly paid by the insurance company. Furthermore, the auditor was
able to identify the reason why these claims were paid. The reason why they were paid was because the
participant paid their premium. The insurance company, having received a payment, paid the claims. Then after
paying the claim the participant's check bounced. When the check bounced, the participant's policy was
retrospectively terminated, but the claim was still paid costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars
per year.
Which looks better in an audit report:
"Audit reviewed 50 transactions and noted one transaction that was processed incorrectly"
or
"Audit used CAATTs and tested every transaction over the past year. We noted XXX exceptions wherein the
company paid YYY dollars on terminated policies."
However, the CAATTs driven review is limited only to the data saved on files in accordance with a systematic
pattern. Much data is never documented this way. In addition saved data often contains deficiencies, is poorly
classified, is not easy to get, and it might be hard to become convinced about its integrity. So, for the present
CAATTs is complement to an auditor's tools and techniques. In certain audits CAATTs can't be used at all. But
there are also audits which simply can't be made with due care and efficiently without CAATTs.
Specialized software[edit]
In the most general terms, CAATTs can refer to any computer program utilized to improve the audit process.
Generally, however, it is used to refer to any data extraction and analysis software. This would include
programs such as spreadsheets (e.g. Excel), databases (e.g. Access), statistical analysis (e.g. SAS), business
intelligence (e.g. Crystal Reports and Business Objects), etc.
Benefits of audit software include:
They are independent of the system being audited and will use a read-only copy of the file to avoid any
corruption of an organizations data.
Many audit-specific routines are used such as sampling.
Provides documentation of each test performed in the software that can be used as documentation in the
auditors work papers.
Audit specialized software may perform the following functions:
Data queries.
Data stratification.
Sample extractions.
Missing sequence identification.
Statistical analysis.
Calculations.
Duplicated transactions.
Pivot tables.
Cross tabulation.
Other uses of CAATs[edit]
In addition to using data analysis software, the auditor uses CAATs throughout the audit for the following
activities while performing data analysis:
Creation of electronic work papers[edit]
Keeping electronic work papers on a centralized audit file or database will allow the auditor to navigate through
current and archived working papers with ease. The database will make it easier for auditors to coordinate
current audits and ensure they consider findings from prior or related projects. Additionally, the auditor will be
able to electronically standardize audit forms and formats, which can improve both the quality and consistency
of the audit working papers.
Fraud detection[edit]
CAATs provides auditors with tools that can identify unexpected or unexplained patterns in data that may
indicate fraud. Whether the CAATs is simple or complex, data analysis provides many benefits in the
prevention and detection of fraud.
CAATs can assist the auditor in detecting fraud by performing and creating the following,
Analytical tests[edit]
Evaluations of financial information made by studying plausible relationships among both financial and non-
financial data to assess whether account balances appear reasonable (AU 329). Examples include ratio, trend,
and Benford's Law tests.
Data analysis reports[edit]
Reports produced using specific audit commands such as filtering records and joining data files.
Continuous monitoring[edit]
Continuous monitoring is an ongoing process for acquiring, analyzing, and reporting on business data to
identify and respond to operational business risks. For auditors to ensure a comprehensive approach to
acquire, analyze, and report on business data, they must make certain the organization continuously monitors
user activity on all computer systems, business transactions and processes, and application controls.
Curb stoning in surveys[edit]
Curb stoning is the term for instances where a surveyor completes a survey form by making up data. Because
some of the data should conform with Benford's law, this practice can be detected using CAATTs which
provide the capability of performing such tests.
Note on the acronyms CAATTs vs CAATs[edit]
CAATTs and CAATs are used interchangeably. While CAATs has emerged as the more common spelling,
CAATTs is the more precise acronym. The acronym CAATTs solves one of the two problems with defining the
acronym. CAATs means:
Computer Aided (or Assisted) Audit Techniques (or Tools and Techniques)
The first "A" and the "T" can have two different meanings depending on who uses the term. By using the term
CAATTs, one is clearly incorporating both "Tools" AND "Techniques."
See also[edit]
Comparison of specialized computer-aided audit tools
Generalized audit software
Information technology audit
Separation of duties














Information Systems Audit and Security
()


Instructor: LihChyun Shu (shulc@mail.ncku.edu.tw)

Course objective
In recent years, information technology (IT) has inspired the reengineering of
traditional business operations. As global networks expand the interconnection
of the world, the smooth operation of communication and computing systems
becomes vital. The immediate need for organizations to protect critical
information continues to increase. IT advances have introduced new risks* that
require unique internal controls and also have had great influences on auditing.
In this course, we will first present an overview of information systems audit (or
information technology autid). We then discuss alternative audit approaches
and review the internal control concerns.
We will give a basic introduction to the broader field of information security,
defining key terms and explaining essential concepts. Will then examine the
business drivers behind the security analysis design process. We will look into
key laws that shape the field of information security, as well as computer ethics
necessary to better educate those implementing security. We then study key
areas of potential computer risk. An overview of relevant technology and
systems issues will also be provided. Finally, students will learn to use computer
assisted audit tools in order to have a hands-on experience.

*Risk: danger; possibility that something harmful or undesirable may happen.
(Longman dictionary of contemporary English)
Course content
1. Auditing, Assurance, and Internal Control
2. Computer Assisted Audit Tools and Technologies (CAATT)
3. CAATTs for Data Extraction and Analysis
4. Introduction to Information Security
5. The Need for Security
6. Legal, Ethical and Professional Issues in Information Security
7. Risk Management: Identifying and Assessing Risk
8. Risk Management: Assessing and Controlling Risk
9. Blueprint for Security

Texts:
James A. Hall. Information Systems Auditing and Assurance, South Western
College Publishing, 1999.
Michael E. Whitman and Herbert J. Mattord. Principles of Information
Security, Thomson Course Technology, 3rd Ed., 2008.

Course slides:
Auditing, assurance, internal control (Chap1 of Hall 99) Relevant links
Computer assisted audit tools and techniques (Chap 6 of Hall
99) 1 2 Relevant links
CAATTs for Data Extraction and Analysis (Chap 7 of Hall 99) Relevant links
Introduction to information security (Chap 1 of Whitman & Mattord
'03) Relevant links Info security related news
The need for security (Chap 2 of Whitman & Mattord '03) Relevant links
Risk management: identifying and assessing risk (Chap 4 of Whitman &
Mattord '03) Relevant links
Risk management: assessing and controlling risk (Chap 5 of Whitman &
Mattord '03)
Supplemental slides:
(slides talk by )
In-class presentation by students

Exercises

Evaluation (subject to change):
Class participation (5%)
Exercises (37%)
Exam (20%)
Case discussion (8%)
Book chapter/paper oral and written presentation (30%)

Links:
Illustrative Risks to the Public in the Use of Computer Systems and Related
Technology (Risks-illustrative.pdf)
Risks-List: Risk-Forum Digest
Software Engineering Notes
Sarbanes-Oxley Act on Computerworld Financial law may force IT
systems overhaul Sarbanes-Oxley Act (Wiki)
The University of Waterloo Centre for Information Systems Assurance
Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
Journal of Information Systems (accessible via NCKU-Journal)
International Journal of Accounting Information Systems (accessible
via NCKU-Journal)
CNS 17799 CNS 17800
Why Information Security is Hard -- An Economic Perspective (Ross Anderson) Orange Book
Summary