Creating an IT Compliance Policy—Key Considerations

Conducting business operations in today’s digital world leaves your company vulnerable to an abundance of security risks. Without an I.T. compliance policy, mitigating these risks is nearly impossible.

Setting up a robust I.T. compliance policy in your company is more important now than ever before. This is mainly due to most organizations now heavily depending on digitized services.

Online businesses rely on e-commerce websites to take orders and receive payments. Even brick-and-mortar companies use software to perform various activities, like their order management and back-office accounting tasks.

A lack of proper security measures can jeopardize the business leader’s position in these technology-driven environments. Their I.T. systems can become abused, resulting in their technology becoming a source of many scandals. To avoid this, businesses must create a robust I.T. compliance policy.

 

In this article, we will cover key considerations for developing an effective system of IT compliance


People, Processes, and How They Will Align With Your Technology

I.T. compliance isn’t just about technology – it also involves your people and business processes. Many organizations overly focus on their technology, resulting in failed audits due to a lack of consideration of the other two essential aspects. This makes the compliance world much more complex.

Taking the right approach can help ensure your enterprise follows the necessary standard.

 

Relevant Laws & Regulations

Laws and regulations define the policies that govern I.T. compliance requirements. Here are the most common ones:  

  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act – regulating financial reporting
  • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – governing non-public personal financial data and information
  • The Health Insurance and Accountability ACT – managing health information that healthcare organizations process

Ultimately, you can’t start a compliance process without first understanding the laws and regulations relevant to your organization and its industry. 

You should also verify the specific controls which apply to these laws and regulations. They are process-oriented and technical means to comply with your policies.

There are various government and industry standards that specify them, including:

  • Payment Card Industry Data  
  • Control Objectives for Information and Related I.T.  
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology .

These can have a tremendous bearing on your industry. Therefore, make sure you familiarize yourself with all relevant controls.

 

Raising the Importance of IT Policies to Your Employees

One of the biggest threats to your organization’s data security is having untrained employees in cybersecurity. Their actions can have a massive impact on your security. For instance, improper software upload, sharing, downloading, and storing can put your critical information at risk.

Unfortunately, many employees opt for insecure data transfer methods for convenience. Some tools they frequently use include personal emails, consumer-grade collaboration apps, and instant messaging. All of which are ideal targets for bad actors.

To prevent your organization from being hit by cybercrime, your employees must learn and understand where various cyber threats originate. They must also understand which actions increase vulnerabilities.

Make file sharing a top priority and invest in proper education to demonstrate the importance of I.T. compliance. Your efforts aid team members’ willingness to adopt best practices in this field.

When developing your cybersecurity training plan, make sure to include critical topics such as:

  • How insecure file transfer methods expose your organization to risks
  • How to avoid phishing scams
  • Precautions to employ before using or downloading unsanctioned applications
  • Best practices for using and creating strong passwords.

Your IT Policy Needs to Align with the Company’s Security Policies

Aligning I.T. compliance with your business operations involves understanding your organization’s culture. For example, your environment can revolve around processes or ad-hoc tasks. Enterprises aligning with the former are better off issuing in-depth policies to ensure compliance.

By contrast, businesses that match the latter require preventive and detective controls. They must address specific risks associated with your I.T. policy. This helps auditors understand why you’ve deployed a particular control or decided to leave your business open to certain risks.

Understanding your IT Environment

I.T. environments directly affect your I.T. policy compliance design. That said, there are two main kinds:

  • Homogeneous environments – consist of standardized vendors, configurations, and models. They’re primarily consistent with your I.T. deployment.
  • Heterogeneous environments – Uses an extensive selection of security and compliance applications, versions, and technologies.

Typically, I.T. compliance fees are lower in homogeneous environments because fewer vendors and technology add-ons provide less complexity and policies. Therefore, the price of security and compliance per system is lower than heterogeneous solutions.

Regardless of your environment, your I.T. policy must appropriately tackle new technologies, including virtualization and cloud solutions.

Establish Accountability

I.T. policy compliance can’t function without accountability. You must define responsibilities and roles within your organization to determine the specific assets individuals need to protect. In doing so, you will also establish who has the authority to make critical decisions.

Accountability begins with top executives in a company. The most effective way to guarantee involvement is implementing I.T. compliance policy programs regarding risks instead of technology.

As for your I.T. providers, they have two critical responsibilities:

  • Data/system owners – The owner is responsible for data usage and care as part of your management team. They’re also accountable for protecting and managing company information.
  • Data/system custodians – Custodial roles typically involve several duties, including system admin, security analysis, legal counseling, and internal auditing.

These responsibilities are all essential for I.T. policy compliance. For example, auditors need to verify compliance activity execution carefully. Otherwise, there’s no way to confirm that the implementation is going according to plan.

Automation of the Compliance Process

Your I.T. continuously evolves and grows with your business. Internal auditors can only review very few user accounts and system configurations. Automation is the only way to ensure that all your systems get evaluated regularly.

Proper Business IT Compliance Setup

Setting up well-designed I.T. compliance may be a long, tedious process, but it dramatically affects your overall business security. It also protects your business reputation, allowing you to avoid unexpected penalties and fines.

When setting up your I.T. compliance policy, you must consider several aspects. The most important being your I.T. provider.

If your I.T. isn’t living up to standards, you’re likely to face compliance issues at some point. This can cause tremendous stress and even halt your business operations.

Fortunately, there might be an easy way out of this dilemma. Schedule a quick call with our I.T. experts to discuss your technology problems and find out how to get the most out of your I.T. provider.

Need Help Creating an IT Compliance Policy?

Our experts can review your current technology and help you design an I.T. compliance policy that will meet industry and government standards.

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