What Tech Issues Internal Audit Watches -- and Where It Falls Short

Internal auditors are scrutinizing social media applications and cloud-based computing as they examine the costs and benefits of technology at companies, a new report says. And they consider these the two top business priorities requiring auditing skills.

In its "" for 2012, Robert Half International consulting firm Protiviti draws such conclusions from a survey of more than 800 audit professionals globally.

The consultancy notes that this tech emphasis is a change from a year ago, when international financial reporting standards the Global Technology Audit Guide for fraud prevention dominated survey participants' interest.

"Unlike some other areas of technology, social media and cloud-based applications are often used across an entire organization and that creates new enterprise-wide risks," . "As usage continues to grow, the internal audit function -- in partnership with executive management -- is being challenged to identify, assess, monitor and mitigate these new and emerging risks appropriately."

Despite their acknowledgement of its importance, many internal auditors in the survey say their "technology IQ" needs serious improvement, "both in understanding new technologies and employing technology-enabled auditing processes."