The number one thing business leaders can do to maintain strong cybersecurity is to develop and follow an IT compliance framework. However, from our experience, many professionals don’t know what it means to be compliant when it comes to IT. So we’ve created a basic IT compliance guide to help professional leaders keep their teams and processes up-to-snuff.
IT plays a huge role in allowing organizations to get work done and stay competitive in an increasingly virtual business environment. While strategic IT hardware and software can make it much easier to store, access, and share company and client data, professional leaders need to be sure IT solutions are set up in a way that protects sensitive information and upholds industry standards.
This is where compliance comes in. Our team of IT compliance experts works with organizations every day to help them implement and maintain IT compliance standards. However, many of our clients often have no idea what IT compliance is all about or what it should look like for their organization. So, we thought we would create a guide of basic information about IT compliance so professionals have a better idea of why it’s so important and how to get started.
When it comes to business IT, compliance is all about following data security rules, guidelines, and standards mandated by industry associations and state or federal governments. These mandates are usually created to regulate the secure storage and transmission of different kinds of virtual data. Data regulated by compliance standards could include anything from personally identifiable information like driver’s license or social security numbers to sensitive financial information like bank account or credit card numbers.
Depending on your industry and the type of data your organization collects, stores, and shares, different compliance regulations and standards will apply to you. For instance, organizations that collect healthcare information on patients are regulated by the Healthcare Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA), while any organization that processes credit card transactions is required to follow Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) mandated by the PCI Standards Council. While standards may vary by industry or state, these regulations are serious business and organizations can face hefty fines and penalties for non-compliance.
Wondering why it seems like such a big deal? IT compliance is important because it provides a dual layer of protection for organizations in an increasingly virtual world. First, it helps organizations protect the clients they work with by ensuring their data is handled in a secure, confidential, and responsible way. Second, it helps organizations protect their own data and business continuity while proactively preventing a data breach liability disaster.
Now that you have an idea of what IT compliance is all about and why it’s so important, you might be panicking, wondering if your current IT infrastructure is compliant with industry or governmental standards that apply to your organization. Don’t stress. If you’re new to compliance, we’ve put together a step-by-step list of instructions to help you start getting compliant.
Here are five easy steps for developing your IT compliance policy:
Review industry-specific IT compliance standards that apply to your organization
The first step toward getting compliant is checking out any data sharing and security compliance standards that are set by and for your specific industry. Do some research and consult with professional associations in your industry to determine what industry-specific compliance standards your organization should be adhering to.
Review federal and state IT compliance standards for business
Next, conduct a thorough review of what federal and state IT compliance standards might apply to your organization. Some of these may be industry-specific, while others may apply to organizations across all industries. Find out what government-mandated compliance standards apply to your organization and develop a plan for upholding these standards.
Take a data security inventory
Once you know which industry-specific and government-mandated compliance standards apply to your organization, it’s time to take an inventory of the IT security tools and strategies you already have in place. Are they designed and implemented in a way that supports the compliance framework you should be following? What needs to be changed or improved to help you get and stay compliant?
Talk to your team about compliance
Just like all aspects of IT security, compliance should be a team effort. Talk to your team about what compliance is, why it’s important, and what specific standards or guidelines apply to your organization. Urge them to be vigilant in maintaining these standards and implement an open-door policy so team members feel comfortable approaching you about compliance concerns or ideas.
Reach out for professional guidance, consultation, and support
Above all, never hesitate to reach out to a team of IT professionals to help you develop a rock-solid compliance strategy. IT professionals work with businesses in all industries to help educate teams about compliance and implement reliable compliance strategies – don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
The best way to put compliance concerns to rest is to face them head-on with a team of seasoned professionals. Our team of cybersecurity experts has extensive experience helping organizations in all industries implement and maintain compliant IT practices. If you need help getting a handle on IT compliance for your organization, reach out to our team anytime.