WA university tech problems 'easy, cheap to fix'

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WA university tech problems 'easy, cheap to fix'

Auditor finds unresolved weaknesses.

The West Australian Auditor General has found an increase in information technology weaknesses in the state’s universities and training providers’ financial reporting and controls systems.

The audit report was tabled in Parliament this week and pertained to four universities and 11 training providers, including Curtin University of Technology, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University and the University of Western Australia.

Institutions were found to have improved thair financial controls and reporting practices in 2012, but more information system control weaknesses were discovered alongside an increase in those left unresolved.

The audit found 132 technology system weaknesses in 2012, of which 52 had also been identified in the previous year's audit.

WA Auditor General Colin Murphy said the result was "considerably higher" than the 85 technology weaknesses found in 2011, but noted that this was partly due to an increased focus on security.

Of the 132 system weaknesses in the report, 46 percent were characterised as security issues. In 2011, 32 percent of findings related to security issues. 

The remaining 71 weaknesses in 2012 related to processing and handling of information, backup, support, restart and recovery, monitoring and logging, and reporting and review of access privileges. 

“If not addressed, these issues have the potential to compromise the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer systems,” Murphy said in the report. 

Murphy said it was a concern that 52 issues had remained unresolved between the 2011 and 2012 audits.

“A large proportion of these outstanding issues are not expensive to resolve or require specialist resources.”

Seventy percent of weaknesses in 2012 were rated moderate and requiring of attention “as soon as possible”, 29.5 percent were rated minor, with only one significant weakness found. The audit said the agency in question had rectified the issue.

The state will table its 2013 information systems audit report later this year, with more detail on the 2012 audit expected.

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