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The Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT) is a set of best practices (framework) for information (IT) management created by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), and the IT Governance Institute (ITGI) in 1992.
COBIT provides managers, auditors, and IT users with a set of generally accepted measures, indicators, processes and best practices to assist them in maximizing the benefits derived through the use of information technology and developing appropriate IT governance and control in a company.
The first edition was published in 1996; the second edition in 1998; the third edition in 2000 (the on-line edition became available in 2003); and the fourth edition in December 2005. It has more recently found favour due to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
In its 4th edition, COBIT has 34 high level objectives that cover 318 control objectives categorized in four domains: Plan and Organize, Acquire and Implement, Deliver and Support, and Monitor and Evaluate.
Be aware: The summary below is partly aligned to COBIT version 4.0 (which provides major changes compared to the former COBIT Version 3.2).
The COBIT mission is “to research, develop, publicize and promote an authoritative, up-to-date, international set of generally accepted information technology control objectives for day-to-day use by business managers and auditors.” Managers, auditors, and users benefit from the development of COBIT because it helps them understand their IT systems and decide the level of security and control that is necessary to protect their companies’ assets through the development of an IT governance model.
Recently, ISACA has released Val IT, which correlates the COBIT processes to senior management processes required to get good value from IT investments.
COBIT is an IT governance framework and supporting toolset that allows managers to bridge the gap between control requirements, technical issues and business risks. COBIT enables clear policy development and good practice for IT control throughout organizations. ITGI’s latest version— COBIT® 4.0—emphasizes regulatory compliance, helps organizations to increase the value attained from IT, enables alignment and simplifies implementation of the COBIT framework. It does not invalidate work done based on earlier versions of COBIT but instead can be used to enhance work already done based upon those earlier versions. When major activities are planned for IT governance initiatives, or when an overhaul of the enterprise control framework is anticipated, it is recommended to start fresh with COBIT 4.0. COBIT 4.0 presents activities in a more streamlined and practical manner so continuous improvement in IT governance is easier than ever to achieve.
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