Erin Mackler, CPA, oversees the AICPA's Systems Reliability Task Force in the development and implementation of the new CPA SysTrust service. SysTrust is the name for a service that tests and verifies a system's reliability. Using techniques similar to audit techniques, CPAs can measure the reliability of a system with regard to four principles:
Availability - Determine whether the system is available for operation and use at necessary times
Security - Determine whether the system is protected against unauthorized access
Integrity - Determine whether the system processing is complete, accurate, timely, and authorized
Maintainability - Determine whether the system can be appropriately updated when required
SysTrust is an auditor's opinion that is attached to a company's financial statements, along with a statement from the company setting out exactly what needed to be tested.
The AICPA in conjunction with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants developed this system, which is provided by licensed CPAs and CAs. It is appropriate that these professionals provide this service as they are already recognized as trusted, independent third parties that provide assurance as to the accuracy of many types of financial and non-financial information. Accounting professionals bring independence, objectivity, and in-depth knowledge of IT environments to system operations.
The SEC is in the process of attempting to limit the types of consulting services that auditors can provide. According to Ms. Mackler, SysTrust engagements would not be prohibited in the scope of services ruling by the SEC. Attestation service, which is what SysTrust is, is not included among the prohibited services.