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Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT) is a framework created by ISACA for information technology (IT) management and IT governance. It is a supporting toolset that allows managers to bridge the gap between control requirements, technical issues and business risks.
The Information Systems Audit and Control Association first released COBIT in 1996; ISACA published the current[update] version, COBIT 5, in 2012.
COBIT aims "to research, develop, publish and promote an authoritative, up-to-date, international set of generally accepted information technology control objectives for day-to-day use by business managers, IT professionals and assurance professionals".
COBIT, initially an acronym for "Control objectives for information and related technology" (though before the release of the framework people talked of "CobiT" as "Control Objectives for IT"), defines a set of generic processes for the management of IT. The framework defines each process together with process inputs and outputs, key process-activities, process objectives, performance measures and an elementary maturity model.
COBIT provides a set of recommended best practices for governance and control process of information systems and technology with the essence of aligning IT with business. COBIT 5 consolidates COBIT4.1, Val IT and Risk IT into a single framework acting as an enterprise framework aligned and interoperable with TOGAF and ITIL.
The business orientation of COBIT consists of linking business goals to IT goals, providing metrics and maturity models to measure their achievement, and identifying the associated responsibilities of business and IT process owners.
The process focus of COBIT 4.1 is illustrated by a process model that subdivides IT into four domains (Plan and Organize, Acquire and Implement, Deliver and Support, and Monitor and Evaluate) and 34 processes in line with the responsibility areas of plan, build, run and monitor. It is positioned at a high level and has been aligned and harmonized with other, more detailed, IT standards and good practices such as COSO, ITIL, ISO 27000, CMMI, TOGAF and PMBOK. COBIT acts as an integrator of these different guidance materials, summarizing key objectives under one umbrella framework that link the good practice models with governance and business requirements.
The COBIT 4.1 framework specification can be obtained as a complimentary PDF at the ISACA download website. (Free self-registration may be required.)
COBIT 5 was released in April 2012. COBIT 5 consolidates and integrates the COBIT 4.1, Val IT 2.0 and Risk IT frameworks, and draws from ISACA's IT Assurance Framework (ITAF) and the Business Model for Information Security (BMIS). It aligns with frameworks and standards such as Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), PRINCE2 and The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF).
COBIT has had five major releases:
The COBIT components include:
Other ISACA Publications based on the COBIT framework include:
Regulatory requirements, e.g. those imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, frequently require organisations to have frameworks in place for risk mitigation, monitoring and control.
COBIT provides an attractive option to meet such requirements.
Companies that are publicly traded in South Africa are subject to the King III code of corporate governance.
According to Greetha Steenkamp of the University of Stellenbosch, COBIT is well aligned to the principles of King III, so COBIT can be used effectively to meet the IT governance framework requirements of King III.