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What Is the COBIT Framework?

COBIT Defined

COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology) framework is designed to facilitate the way information technology is developed, improved, implemented, and managed. The COBIT framework is published through the Information Technology Governance Institute (ITGI), a branch of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA).

COBIT was first published in 1996 and has since been used to help in the governance of various kinds of IT systems. In the United States, COBIT has also been instrumental in helping organizations conform to compliance standards outlined in the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002.

Principles Governing the COBIT Framework

Governing principles play a key role in ensuring IT solutions effectively support an organization. There are five COBIT governing principles.

Address Stakeholder Needs

COBIT ensures that stakeholders' needs are systematically identified and then met.

End-to-end Enterprise Coverage

Because COBIT can be applied to every area of your IT infrastructure, it provides comprehensive, end-to-end coverage for an enterprise.

Employing Integrated Frameworks

COBIT uses integrated frameworks, which involve models that support the communication between different software applications in a service-oriented architecture (SOA).

Following a Holistic Approach

COBIT follows a holistic approach, meaning it looks at the IT system as a whole and addresses its needs accordingly, instead of using small, micro solutions meant to improve isolated processes.

Segregation of Governance From Management

COBIT separates governance from management. Governance involves a system of checks and balances used to assess the effectiveness of a system, while management focuses on the approaches and decisions used to improve how an IT system functions.

Goals of the COBIT Framework

Streamlined Information Sharing

COBIT simplifies the process of sharing information between IT managers, workers, and key stakeholders. In this way, IT management and governance is more efficient because it is not hindered by miscommunications.

Balanced Mix of IT and Business Strategies to Accomplish Goals

Using COBIT frameworks, business strategies and IT methodologies are combined, working in tandem as opposed to separately. This limits the risk of IT measures conflicting with the organization’s business objectives and unifies the thinking around addressing challenges.

Optimizing Costs

COBIT frameworks can optimize costs by reducing redundancy in systems and human capital.

Integrate ISACA Research Findings into COBIT Frameworks

Because the ISACA helps develop COBIT frameworks, the frameworks themselves reflect the more than 50 years of the ISACA’s research into IT governance, risk management, and security policies. ISACA frameworks also emphasize efficiencies that have been used to improve business systems for decades.

Is COBIT Right for Every Enterprise?

While COBIT is an effective tool it may not be right for every enterprise. As is the case with many solutions and protocols, COBIT is not a one-size-fits-all security solution. Here are some examples of enterprises that may not get adequate benefit from a COBIT implementation.

Enterprises Where Widespread Adoption is Unlikely

What is the COBIT framework? COBIT involves a set of standards that only work well if applied to an organization's entire security infrastructure. 

In some enterprises, there are valuable, effective security professionals who may be reluctant to adopt a new framework. Even though COBIT may benefit your organization, losing these security pros to another company because they do not want to change their daily workflows may outweigh the benefits.

Enterprises That Already Have an Adequate System

Sometimes, the old adage "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" applies. Not all organizations have a system that needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. This is especially true for organizations with technologies that can do much of what COBIT recommends, such as the Fortinet Security Fabric. If a system like this is in place and has already achieved widespread adoption and implementation, much of what is in the COBIT framework would be redundant.

It is also important to acknowledge the hard work and continuous efforts of employees who have been successfully defending your digital assets for years. By making smaller, incremental adjustments to cybersecurity policies, you honor them as professionals and show respect for their time.

What Are the Components of COBIT?

COBIT’s components work together to ensure a comprehensive, holistic body of solutions. 


The COBIT framework organizes the governance objectives of an IT system, as well as the practices used to achieve them. It also connects these measures to the needs of the business.

Process Descriptions

COBIT uses clearly delineated process descriptions that allow an organization to plan, construct, execute, and monitor effective solutions.

Control Objectives

COBIT provides high-level standards to guide management as they control individual IT processes.

Management Guidelines

The COBIT framework assists managers in assigning responsibility, arranging objectives, assessing performance, and making connections between processes that interact with each other.

Maturity Models

COBIT’s maturity models can be used to measure how effective each process is, as well as identify and deal with areas where processes are falling short.

COBIT vs ITIL: Salient Differences

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of best practices that was originally formed in the 1980s by the British government. The best practices ITIL documents are chosen for their effectiveness in facilitating effective IT service management.

One of the key differences between ITIL and COBIT is while COBIT outlines what needs to be done, ITIL describes ways to do it. With each iteration of ITIL, IT professionals get concrete, actionable steps they can implement to improve their service delivery.

Can COBIT and ITIL work in tandem? Yes. One of the easiest ways to use COBIT and ITIL together is to identify a way to improve services using COBIT and then use ITIL to define the structure and processes you will use to make the improvements.

COBIT vs TOGAF: Important Differentiators

The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) was originally based on the Technical Architecture Framework for Information Management (TAFIM), which was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The most important difference between COBIT and TOGAF is that while TOGAF focuses on how IT architecture is built to meet the goals of a business, COBIT is more concerned with the governance of an IT system or the way in which an IT system is managed and assessed to ensure it is meeting core objectives.

Why Is COBIT 5 Popular?

In the earlier iterations of the COBIT frameworks, some observed that following them resulted in responsibilities being passed down the line from one person to the next. This got in the way of a holistic, fully integrated approach where teams worked side by side instead of in sequence. 

The COBIT 5 framework addresses these concerns. As a result, it has been noted to reduce the risks involved with IT implementations, as well as pave the way for faster, more agile ways of adapting to changing needs.

Benefits of Employing the COBIT Framework

Employing the COBIT framework helps you meet the needs of all stakeholders, including end users. You can also guide and protect the entire enterprise architecture, including all elements of the network and end-user devices. Further, COBIT promotes a more holistic approach to addressing IT challenges and gives you a way of integrating one, unified framework across the organization. 

Another one of COBIT’s benefits is it segments governance away from management, which results in a more objective assessment of the performance of your IT system.

Benefits for CIO/IT Managers/IT Directors

CIOs, IT managers, and IT directors get a more streamlined, unified set of solution design, communication, and maintenance strategies.

Risk Committee

Those responsible for minimizing risk benefit from having all solutions handled under a single umbrella framework. This reduces the chance of vulnerabilities escaping their notice.

Process Owners

Those responsible for developing and maintaining processes stand to benefit from COBIT because their solutions are not created in an isolated environment; they are developed holistically. This ensures processes work well together instead of potentially undercutting each other.

Audit Committee Members

COBIT streamlines the work of an audit committee because everyone involved is working from the same playbook. Deviations from acceptable standards will therefore be easier to identify and address.

Benefits for IT Professionals in the Audit, Risk, Security, Governance, and Assurance Sectors

IT professionals dealing with the audit, risk, security, governance, and assurance sectors benefit from the step-by-step, clearly delineated nature of the COBIT framework. Those who obtain COBIT certification get the added benefit of a marketable set of demonstrable skills.

What Do COBIT/ISACA Certifications Offer?

ISACA seeks to develop measures that guide and control the way IT is governed, as well as how its security is implemented. ISACA is also used by audit professionals to ensure they examine and evaluate all the necessary components of an IT system. When building a career, ISACA certifications can give you a broad and applicable knowledge base that can empower you to add value to virtually any organization’s IT system.


A Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification program tests a candidate’s ability to implement controls for an enterprise IT solution. It is designed for those who have to audit IT systems.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

A CISM is charged with assessing managerial and technical skills. Security architects and managers who engineer, design, and implement tools and policies benefit from CISM certification.

Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)

CGEIT assesses candidates’ knowledge of the responsibilities senior management has when it comes to the governance of an IT system. It is designed to support the qualifications of those who provide assurance or advisory services for IT governance.

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

CRISC focuses on the risks and dangers facing enterprises. The CRISC certification is meant to support IT professionals in charge of cybersecurity solutions.

How Fortinet Can Help

FortiSIEM provides IT admins with the ability to gain visibility into a wide array of processes impacted by COBIT frameworks. In addition, many of the security response and remediation measures outlined by COBIT can be fully automated with FortiSIEM.

Because FortiSIEM unifies your security system, you can use it to implement several COBIT recommendations at once. FortiSIEM gives you:

  1. Real-time correlation of events
  2. Real-time infrastructure and application discovery capabilities
  3. Dynamic user identity mapping
  4. Automatic incident mitigation
  5. Customized log parsing
  6. A business services dashboard
  7. Security intelligence from FortiGuard

Additionally, the Fortinet Security Fabric streamlines your organization’s implementation of COBIT with a comprehensive suite of tools. It is built on the FortiOS platform that gives you visibility and protection across your entire attack surface. 

The Fortinet Security Fabric has three pillars at its foundation: 

  1. Zero-trust access
  2. Security-driven networking, which combines security features with your network infrastructure
  3. Adaptive cloud security, which provides dependable cloud-native security across your entire ecosystem 

Threat insights are generated by FortiGuard, analyzed by FortiAI, and then shared across the Security Fabric.

To make it easier to connect existing solutions, the Security Fabric supports open application programming interfaces (APIs), making it easy to align it with your current tools. All the features of the Fortinet Security Fabric are controlled within a single Fabric Management Center, ensuring a coordinated response and a fully cohesive solution. Fortinet AI systems oversee the Security Fabric, enabling a fully automated, self-healing network security solution.

Learn more about IT Operations (ITOps) and IT Security Policies.


What is COBIT used for?

The COBIT framework is used to facilitate the way information technology is developed, improved, implemented, and managed.

What is the difference between ITIL and COBIT?

One of the key differences between ITIL and COBIT is while COBIT outlines what needs to be done, ITIL describes ways to do it.

What are the controls in COBIT?

The controls in COBIT help you achieve objectives such as the purpose or result of a process, principle, practice, tool, symbol, organizational unit, or something else the IT system is designed to accomplish.

Who should use COBIT?

COBIT can be used by IT admins, CIOs, and auditors to strengthen IT systems.

Is COBIT a form of ITIL?

COBIT is not a form of ITIL, but the two can be used in conjunction with each other, with ITIL providing guidance regarding action steps to accomplish COBIT objectives.