What is IT Compliance Management & Why Do I Need It? (and How to Make it Easier!)

What is IT Compliance Management & Why Do I Need It? (and How to Make it Easier!)The word “compliance” is one of those overarching terms that people use in business but aren’t always sure exactly what it entails. In short, being in compliance means you’re following the guidelines and regulations set out for your industry or all businesses in general.

For example, being in compliance with a local city ordinance can mean making sure your business license is kept up to date. When it comes to IT compliance, data security is the major area where compliance comes into play.

This can mean following proper data privacy and protection protocols so you’re meeting guidelines such as PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) or HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

If you’re not using a compliance management tool that can help you and your employees stick to the proper data handling and cybersecurity guidelines, then you could be leaving yourself open for a data breach, which not only means fines, it can also mean losses in the form of downtime and lost customer trust/future business.

The average cost of a data breach is $3.9 million.

The cost of non-compliance with IT security standards can result in costs that aren’t just contained to the year of the incident. According to IBM Security, data breach costs continue on for a company over 2 years after an incident has occurred.

How long do costs continue?

  • 67% of data breach costs occur in the first year
  • 22% of those costs occur in the second year
  • 11% of the costs occur more than two years after the breach

Two Methods for Compliance Management

Managing your company’s compliance with laws, regulations, and standards, can be approached in two main ways:

  • “By the Book”
  • “Allow for Best Judgement”

By the Book IT Compliance Enforcement

The “By the Book” method of IT compliance is designed to reduce any chance of error and thus is the more inflexible of the two. This compliance method enforces the importance of meeting certain rules and regulations and puts workflows and protocols into place that are not to be deviated from.

An example would be a setting up a rule in your Office 365 platform that requires all users to use two-factor authentication (2FA) for their logins. You don’t allow anyone to login without that extra 2FA protection, because it’s a vital part of your data security policy.

Allow for Best Judgement IT Compliance Enforcement

“Allow for Best Judgement” gives your users some flexibility in how a particular policy or situation is handled, within certain parameters. Using this method is usually done when a protocol might interfere with an unpredictable or flexible factor, such as a customer asking for a rush order or when a sales team is out at a trade show.

For example, you may require that all sales be given your accounting department by 3:00 p.m. each day but may allow flexibility for salespeople that are on the road and thus need more time to get their orders in.

When you’re putting together your compliance guidelines and policies, a good rule of thumb is to decide which of these two methods you’re going to apply and write the rule accordingly to either leave some flexibility or ensure there is none.

Simplifying IT Compliance

IT compliance can seem overwhelming especially when you have so many moving parts to your technology infrastructure, such as:

  • Cloud applications
  • Login credentials
  • PCs and Mobile devices
  • Wireless/wired networks
  • Vendor/customer data management
  • Backup and file storage
  • Payment processing
  • and more

Compliance activities can include:

  • Third-party or internal audits
  • Creating and updating of security manuals and policies
  • Reporting for regulatory agencies
  • Ongoing IT security monitoring
  • Employee training

How do you juggle all those pieces while still running your business? IT compliance shouldn’t take up a big chunk of your time if you know how to approach it head-on and put systems in place that will automate your compliance efforts.

This means that instead of having to constantly worry that an important policy isn’t being followed and that you might be at risk of a data breach, you can have a system that proactively handles compliance and sends an alert if anything looks out of place.

Here’s how to get started.

Identify Your Compliance Requirements

Does your firm take credit card payments? Do you have a local state data privacy regulation you’re subject to? Do you sell to Europe or other countries?

A 3rd-party compliance risk assessment can help you identify the compliance requirements that will inform how you set your policies and the procedures to meet them.

Create Compliance Policies

Now that you know your requirements, you can set your policies and procedures with them in mind. Your risk assessment will be a great help in this area, as it will come with recommendations for addressing any potential compliance issues that were found.

Policies should be clear and include everything from how to handle email security to new employee cybersecurity onboarding to proper backup and data retention.

Automate Compliance Management with the Right Tools

Compliance management tools are especially useful when it comes to those policies that need “by the book” enforcement because once you’ve set up your rule, the application carries them out 24/7/365.

Here are some of the ways that compliance management tools help:

  • Maintains business workflows while instituting guidelines to reduce risk
  • Ensures system security through proper authentication protocols
  • Can assess risk and suggest areas of attention
  • Reduces the chance of legal problems
  • Lowers cost of compliance by centralizing governance
  • Integrates security and privacy into all sensitive data activities
  • Lowers risk of a data breach or virus/malware infection
  • Improves team communication and employee adherence to policies
  • Saves you time by ensuring all bases are covered with compliance needs

Book a Free Risk Assessment Today

Are your workflows fully integrated to ensure your data compliance? Excedeo can help you find out with a free risk assessment.

Book yours today!