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What is COBIT (Control Objectives For Information Technology)? 5 Main Principles

As effective IT risk management is a global challenge, organizations seek one effective method or another to confirm that IT assets are organized in the best possible way. If you are also trying to find a way out, COBIT Framework needs your attention. It is one of the most recognized and adaptive approaches in this regard.

Let’s explore the COBIT meaning and its related aspects so that you can use it for its potential.

What is COBIT (Control Objectives For Information Technology)? 5 Main Principles

What Is COBIT?

COBIT, or Control Objectives For IT, is an ISACA-designed and globally accepted framework helping IT managers/professionals to easily figure out the hidden and surfaced technical issues, governance risks, and areas where control is lacking.

The framework is extensive and explains everything about how a business can have a better hold over IT systems and ensure their quality controls. It’s so flexible and expandable that business ventures from any background and domain can adopt it effectively. Seeing the authenticity and viability of this framework, the US has adopted this framework as the foundation to achieve SOX compliance.

Not only this,  COBIT has become so famous that globally recognized standards such as ISO 27000, ITIL, COSO, PMBOK, and many more have given their acceptance  to it. It mainly works like a guideline integrator to de-clutter this space and bring all-possible key solutions under one roof. 

What Is ISACA?

As the framework in discussion is directly connected with ISACA, it’s vital to understand it. 

To begin, ISACA is the acronym for Information Systems Audit & Control Association, and it’s a globally recognized group establishing standards and guidance for people who handle governance, auditing, cybersecurity, and control operations.

It was established in 1967 and initially featured a group of auditing control experts. The group identified that the industry lacked a standardized protocol for managing the information source. Hence, it released a set of rules that later became a benchmark.

History of COBIT

When the 1st version came into existence in 1996, COBIT’s core focus was on the practices that are crucial for the IT ecosystem’s growth navigation. These practices are from the financial auditors’ point of view. However, soon the world realized that the offerings were not adequate. Hence, a modified and a bit more extensive version was launched in 1998. That version has a wider scope and covered areas beyond audit controls.

COBIT, during its early days, faced huge criticism because of limited opportunities. Some even stated that COBIT has adverse results. Hot Potato is a situation that some of the early versions of COBIT used to generate. Hot Potato means a condition where every related stakeholder has passed the tasks in the line.

Later in the 2000s, two more versions were released. With each new version, ISACA managed to introduce new rules and practices that are useful for IT management. In 2013, the 5th version was offered, and it included some of the best practices, tools recommendations, and IT objectives. The core focus of COBIT 5.0 was to encourage paperwork as much as possible and rote the rules so that IT governance and accountability are improved.

The past COBIT criticisms were well addressed by this version while keeping a constant focus on sustainability. As it promoted organizations to stick to the integration and holistic approach, this version became too famous.

The existing version of COBIT was launched in 2019, and it’s way far too flexible and viable a version that many leading enterprises are using at large. It’s so adaptive that organizations of sorts and sizes can use it. It also states the maximum number of possible governing principles, six, and supports 40 management objectives and governance.

Basic Principles of COBIT Framework

COBIT framework has a wider approach and is more than a technical standard set. It ensures that IT operations are achieved by maintaining a balance between sources, IT applications, and linked processes. The founding principles of this framework are control, and Info-Tech control objectives.

By control, it means having authority over key IT management practices, structures, policies, and procedures so that pre-defined goals are met for sure.

IT control objectives mean explaining the achievable results so well that they are easy to accomplish during IT operations.

Why Is COBIT Important?

COBIT has become a norm for IT, but why? COBIT’s focus is on making IT so simplified that IT professionals, auditors, and business executives, coming from every background, can understand it, control it, predict the outcomes, and set the goals.

Finding this common ground for everyone makes IT auditing easier than ever because it’s doable to make sure that IT professionals are aware of where and how IT controls are operating

What Are The COBIT Principles?

The COBIT 2019 version stated six principles that organizations should adopt during IT enterprise governance. These six principles are stated below.

  • It’s important that the IT governance systems are well-aligned with the expectations and requirements of the stakeholders so that enough value is generated using I&T. Value creation is possible by balancing resources, benefits, risks, governance system, and actionable strategy.
  • IT governance systems should not be made up of one single component. Various components should be a part of it, and they should be different from each other.
  • It’s better to use a dynamic governance system so that any changes have no direct impact on the EGIT system.
  • There should be no overlap between IT management and governance. They both should be different and well separated from each other.
  • The governance-specific system must be well-aligned with the specific needs of the concerned enterprise. This goal is achievable by pre-defining the customization and prioritizing the components used as a governance system.
  • Governance system has to be extensive enough to feature all the IT functions, data, and technology that an enterprise has to use to attain the set goals.

What Should You Know Before Using COBIT?

Even though the adoption of COBIT is a very common practice, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Its effective adoption depends on a deeper understanding of key concepts.

  • Objectives - COBIT v2019 has 40 objectives to guide IT managers. However, all of them are not mandatory. You can test them against your business needs and pick the best-suited ones.
  • Domains - COBIT has grouped them into different domains for easy objective usability. This domain classification allows IT managers to find out objectives related to building, monitoring, and planning.
  • Goals cascade - Goal cascade is the term used to explain the link between organizational needs and goals.
  • Design factors - In this category, only tactical, contextual, and strategic factors that are useful to explain the organizational needs are covered. They all are useful for making the right implementation choices related to cloud data, outsourcing, and DevOps.
  • Components - By this, we meant generic elements having a huge impact on IT. In general, skills, structure, and process descriptions are part of this category.

Several Components of COBIT

  • Main Framework

The prime or key framework is based on the fact that IT is crucial to arrange the IT governance motives and bring up the industry’s top-class practices in the ongoing IT operations. Also, IT domains should be taken into consideration while understanding business needs.

  • Process Descriptions

Acting like a common language for professionals, this reference model helps. Because of this, everyone within an organization/company can get a fair understanding of IT governance. The major concerning concepts mentioned in process descriptions are building, planning, IT process monitoring, and running.

  • Control Objectives

This component offers an extensive list of points that an IT management team can share with its professionals as a reference. It’s crucial to attain a better grasp of IT business controls.

  • Maturity Models

A more mature business model makes a business more profitable, productive, and streamlined. The emphasis of COBIT maturity model is on gaining better access to the process’s capability to strengthen the governance strategy and the business’s maturity in terms of cybersecurity.

  • Management Guidelines

Having specific instructions from the company is important for better duty allocation and performance management. Also, it explains that it’s important to have commonly-agreed objectives throughout the business venture.

As it improves IT governance through its principles, COBIT has a worldwide acceptance and is used by all leading organizations from the public and private sectors.

COBIT 5 vs COBIT 2019

COBIT has experienced multiple updates and additions since its inception. Its recent, i.e. 2019, version (introduced in the year 2018) is excessively advanced. However, the one released in 2012 (COBIT 5) is also used commonly in the industry. 

Principle & Governance

This factor is important in making decisions, adherence to compliance, and performance monitoring/tracking. 

Both versions have the same administration and management goals. However, there is a difference when principles - that help meet stakeholders’ expectations and help in requirements’ better inspection as per the organizational aims - are in question.

The 2019 version has 6 of them, whereas COBIT 5 principles featured only 5 points. Therefore, governance is more extensive in COBIT 2019’s case. 


This section experienced the maximum update or changes when COBIT 5 was upgraded to COBIT 2019. COBIT 5 has 37 processes, while in COBIT 2019, this count has reached 40. 

For instance, the supplier is known as a vendor in APO10. MEA experienced one process’s addition and the term ‘Monitor Evaluate and Assess’ is now replaced with managed.    

Quick Comparison between these 2 versions

Year of inception20182012
Total principles (specific to Governance)65
Governance-Framework PrinciplesPresentAbsent
Aid for Performance managementCMMIISO/IEC 33000
Design factorsPresentAbsent

COBIT Comparison

COBIT is not the only framework that exists for IT governance/administration. ITIL and TOGAF are two more globally-recognized frameworks. Let’s compare the functionality of COBIT against those.

  • ​COBIT vs ITIL

As mentioned above, COBIT has its inclination towards managing the risks. Its scope is excessively wider as compared to ITIL. COBIT can work seamlessly across multiple business domains. ITIL, on the other hand, has a narrow focus on IT service management. Also, the administration is not a concern here.

COBIT audits are completely driven by ISACA and are conducted only by certified auditors. For ITIL auditing, organizations need 3rd party tools to meet document compliance, Tudor IT Process Assessment is a very common tool used for this purpose.


The latter is the brainchild of The Open Group association and it’s mainly an architectural idea, whereas COBIT is mainly related to IT governance. During the early stage, TOGAF was known as TAFIM and was designed by the DoD of the US. 

TOGAF works at an information architecture level so that IT and business aims are well aligned. These two can co-exist so that a strong IT governance framework is in place.

Scope-wise, COBIT is wider because it aims to work at an enterprise level.

Advantages of COBIT

Referring to the COBIT framework can add tons of value to the company and provide a wide range of benefits that include:

  • Optimizing IT overheads
  • Easy introduction of inventive tools and technology without disturbing the strategic company objectives
  • Making sure that use of IT tools is according to the objectives
  • Easy IT risk management is happening
  • Create an all-inclusive and uniform IT governance system for the business  
  • Adopt the ideal IT security tools so that IT safety is of high-level  

COBIT 5.0 Certification

For a better understanding of COBIT Framework, IT professionals can achieve a certification course. The COBIT certification provides deeper insights into IT governance/administration, components, and everything else that is covered in the Framework. By completing the credential successfully, IT professionals, and auditors are able to:

  • Understand the existing IT management issues at an early stage and determine their impact on the business.
  • Know that IT governance/administration and management are diverse and handle them accordingly.
  • Get aware of the best possible ways, via which, it’s possible to extract the best outcome from COBIT 5.0 processes.
  • Discuss COBIT 5.0 in context relative to the aim cascade and model.


The complexity of the IT infrastructure of enterprises is expanding with each passing day as new tools and technology are being added. While rapid tech adoption is a sign of progressiveness and higher productivity, governance and system management has become a challenging business goal.

It’s very important that IT governance/administration is standardized so that IT experts and auditors have control over their operations. COBIT Framework does the same. For every IT-extensive business in today’s time, COBIT provides a connecting language using which understanding IT is easy.


What are the benefits of using the COBIT framework?
How does COBIT relate to ITIL?
What is COBIT certification?
What is the COBIT maturity model?
What are the principles of COBIT?
What is the COBIT framework?

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May 27, 2024
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