ITGC SOX: The Foundations and Key Steps For Compliance [Checklist Included]

IT General Controls (ITGCs) are a critical part of SOX compliance to ensure the integrity of financial reports and business practices. ITGC SOX ensures that your organization’s IT systems and processes are secure, well-governed, and aligned with your business objectives.

In this article, we’ll dive into the details of IT General Controls, explaining what they are and how you can ensure that your organization has the right ITGCs in place to meet your SOX compliance requirements.

Take advantage of the SOX ITGC Checklist to simplify implementation!

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)?
  2. What is ITGC SOX?
  3. SOX ITGC Compliance
  4. SOX ITGC Checklist
  5. The Benefits of ITGC and How GRC Can Help
  6. Automate ITGC SOX auditing with StandardFusion

What is Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)?

In 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) was passed by the United States Congress to protect shareholders and the general public from accounting errors, incorrect and fraudulent practices in enterprises and improve corporate disclosures’ accuracy. As a result, organizations must now record, test, maintain, and review controls impacting financial reporting processes to comply with the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX).

What is ITGC SOX?

ITGC is a collection of controls that prove that an IT department installs and implements the necessary SOX compliance measures. By following industry best practices and management-approved processes and regulations, the controls ensure that a company’s security and IT activities are well-governed and controlled.

Some examples that can put your IT activities and organization at risk are:

  1. An application server may be outdated concerning the current threat landscape causing significant vulnerabilities to the organization’s critical resources.
  2. Inadequate access controls may also increase risk. For example, if everyone could create a “stealth user” to peep at private data or wire corporate funds to an offshore account. The risk further increases if every employee has the ability to establish new user accounts.
  3. Suppose a system/endpoint connected to the internet has obsolete security due to inadequate patch management. This would give attackers access to your crucial systems and the ability to steal data or destroy important intellectual property using a vulnerability they found on the dark web.

You can manage and control all these with IT General Controls.

SOX ITGC Compliance

A SOX ITGC audit aims to determine whether the ITGCs are adequate to guarantee the integrity, accuracy, and completeness of the financial reporting system. However, to enable seamless SOX compliance initiatives and successful audits, you must do ITGC correctly.

But how?

Organizations must record, test, maintain, and review controls impacting financial reporting processes in order to comply with the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). These internal controls are methods for identifying and preventing errors in corporate operations that could influence the accuracy or integrity of financial reports.

Companies should implement and assess these practices at every stage of the financial reporting cycle. Also, Internal auditors should conduct frequent compliance audits to ensure SOX compliance.

ITGC focus on the following domains:
  • Access Management

The aim is to guarantee that access to data and programs is only available to approved individuals. A simple example can be a standard user account that is active and has access to sensitive data. Data corruption, deletion, or leakage may occur as a result of unauthorized access to sensitive data if the access provisioned is not monitored and regulated. By the way, check this article to see how you can create value with data quality and GRC.

  • Patch Management

Companies should regularly update applications, systems, and networks, as well as patch vulnerabilities or new features. When users fail to update their programs regularly, they are putting their companies in danger of an attack due to a vulnerability in the unpatched program. Hence, ITGC requires regular updates and persistent monitoring of an organization’s applications, systems, and network service-level guarantees.

  • Change Management

The goal of this domain is for application changes to be tested and authorized before they are published for production. Organizations should assess changes to the app regularly. Finally, the development, testing, and production environments are distinct, segregated, and subject to approval.

  • Data Backup

Organizations must perform and manage data backups often and ensure this process follows policies/procedures/best practices.

Get ahead with ITGC SOX and ensure your organization's IT systems are robust and secure

SOX ITGC Checklist

The following checklist can simplify the implementation of IT general controls that are aligned with business objectives and compliance requirements.

  1. Automate where possible

    Control automation can significantly lower the expenses of maintaining compliance over time because the initial effort is a one-time cost. Internal control automation tends to demystify the external auditor’s control testing procedure and shorten the time required for audit processes. Check out our compliance management tool here.

  2. Assist with your local change management process

    It is vital to prepare for IT audits by ensuring that modifications to critical assets under your control go through a coordinated change management procedure. Moreover, you need to identify the main risk indicators of inadequate or non-existent change management. Any issues discovered in an IT control environment would be a red flag for poor change management.

  3. Understand which critical business processes you are assisting

    To manage risks effectively, you must understand the business objectives and the processes that your systems support. Identifying the critical business processes that rely on your systems and data will help you establish the nature and scope of the controls you need (or don’t need) in your environment. It will also serve as the foundation for your risk assessment model.

  4. Focus on the foundational controls

    You must implement the following foundational controls to be the baseline for security strategy development:

    – Monitoring systems for unauthorized changes
    – Disciplinary policy for intentional unauthorized changes
    – IT configuration management process (including manual and automated)
    – Automation of configuration management
    – Method of tracking successful changes
    – IT infrastructure configuration change notifications

  5. Align your controls with your business strategy and goals

    You must align your IT controls to support your organization’s corporate compliance stance. The organization’s stated corporate strategy, code of conduct, corporate policies, business plan, compliance program, and IT security policies should all emphasize compliance.
SOX ITGC checklist image

The Benefits of ITGC and How GRC Can Help

IT General Controls (ITGC) are essential for the reliable and trustworthy execution of IT infrastructure. From the induction of business-oriented technology to the development of applications covering critical processes such as change management, configuration management, patch management, etc., ITGCs are crucial for today’s digital age. 

ITGCs can be challenging to understand, develop, execute, and monitor.


Because they should evolve over time as the company’s technology changes in order to stay up to date with any new cybersecurity threats that arise. However, different GRC tools, like StandardFusion, can assist you by determining which ITGCs you require or detecting those that are failing and not as effective as they should be.

More importantly, GRC software can help you monitor ITGCs’ performance and make the control reviews less painful and more effective. Governance, risk, and Compliance platforms provide a cost-effective and innovative approach to implementing and maintaining these controls. They automate and streamline audit reviews, optimize the process, and assure compliance.

Finally, GRC tools help you achieve concrete benefits through a methodology tailored to your organization’s context, procedures, and maturity level. Learn how you can get a customized GRC tool to satisfy your unique GRC needs.

Automate ITGC SOX Auditing with StandardFusion

ITGCs are critical for any business. Companies of all sizes deal with compliance, operational, and security challenges when they don’t have ITGCs. These issues not only drain IT departments of time and energy, but they also jeopardize firms’ reputations. Implementing ITGCs keeps everyone on track by requiring them to adhere to and work from a single source of truth while safeguarding an organization’s valuable data

Looking for Better Compliance?

Track compliance to multiple frameworks simultaneously, including SOX, HITRUST CSF, GDPR, CCPA, and FedRAMP, and manage the entire risk and compliance lifecycle with a single tool.

StandardFusion will help you establish and manage compliance and information security programs tailored to your organization and workflow. Moreover, StandardFusion’s management tools help you automate audits, controls, and policies to ensure ITGC SOX compliance.

Book a free consultation today to learn how our GRC software can help your team manage risks, compliance, audits, policies, and vendor-related operations in one environment.