What is COBIT? (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies)
COBIT (control objectives for information and related technologies) is a framework applied in the best practices of IT governance and management. Organizations apply COBIT in the development, implementation, monitoring, and improvement of IT structures. COBIT is the most commonly used framework in the U.S. for compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that deters fraudulent financial reporting.
The COBIT framework comprises various key components such as frameworks, process descriptions, control objectives, maturity models, and management guidelines. At its core, the COBIT framework serves as a multifunctional support tool that helps IT managers align business risks, technical issues, and control prerequisites within the organization.
Various roles in the IT sector may benefit from COBIT, including IT governance analysts, chief information security officers (CISOs), IT security engineers, security systems administrators, and infosec risk analysts. Users may seek official COBIT compliance in their enterprise through three methods of certification: COBIT Bridge, COBIT 2019 Foundation, or COBIT 2019 Design and Implementation.
History of COBIT
ISACA released the first version of COBIT in 1996, which assisted financial auditors with improving controls within the IT environment. The ISACA created two related products — Val IT and Risk IT — which integrate with the COBIT framework.
ISACA released the second version of COBIT in 1998 to include additional controls beyond the audit community. Version 3 of the COBIT framework emerged in the early 2000s to include IT governance techniques and management guidelines that have become an integral part of the framework. The following versions — 4 (2005), 4.1 (2007), and 5 (2012) — offered significant improvements in information regarding IT governance and risk management.
Experts gradually steered the direction of the COBIT framework according to industry demands, with the most recent version, COBIT 2019 (released in 2018), emphasizing the impact of information governance in driving organizational success. The latest version of COBIT provides users with flexible solutions that adapt to the rapidly changing technology of the modern IT landscape.
Principles of COBIT
COBIT consists of five fundamental principles that drive IT governance and management within the organization. These are:
Principle 1 – Fulfilling stakeholder needs: identifying the key stakeholders within an organization and their needs before providing value creation through goal setting. The process potentially leads to increased organizational growth in the long term.
Principle 2 – Offering enterprises comprehensive end-to-end coverage: accounting for all functions and processes within an organization.
Principle 3 – Achieving a single unified framework: integrating multiple frameworks and standards within an organization to achieve seamless IT management and governance.
Principle 4 – Driving a holistic approach in running an organization: tapping enablers (listed below) to create an all-inclusive strategy for IT governance and management.
Principle 5 – Separating management from governance: setting clear boundaries between governance and management roles and responsibilities.
Organizations fulfill a holistic approach via seven enablers:
- People, policies, and frameworks
- Organizational structures
- Culture, ethics, and behavior
- Infrastructure and applications
Benefits of COBIT
The COBIT framework help organizations optimize their IT management and governance processes by meeting contractual agreements and complying with the latest regulatory and legal requirements. COBIT provides tools that establish and prioritize clear and actionable IT goals. For example, COBIT’s maturity model can help users assess the required level of performance for an IT element to fulfill an organizational task.
Additionally, COBIT provides organizations with access to quality information that drives optimal decisions and business goals. The latest version of COBIT integrates well with existing frameworks such as ITIL and TOGAF, enabling organizations to utilize a combination of tools according to specific tasks and practices.