7 Things to consider when creating an IT compliance policy

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Conducting business operations in the digital world is prone to security risks. Mitigating them would be impossible if you don't have an IT compliance policy.

Setting up a robust IT compliance policy in your business is more important now than ever.

In such tech-driven environments, a lack of proper security measures can jeopardize a business.

Creating a strong IT compliance policy can help avoid this possibility.

WEBIT Services has helped clients reach their IT goals for over 25 years.

By reading this article, you will learn seven key considerations when developing your IT compliance policy.

7 Factors you should consider for IT compliance policies

1. How people and processes align with technology

IT compliance isn't just about technology. People and processes are also crucial to practicing good IT compliance. A good IT compliance policy answers questions like, "Who can access what data and technology? Why? What processes do they use to request or actively access company or client information?"

It also addresses specific roles and how they interact with data and your company's IT system.

Many organizations focus heavily on their tech rather than their people and processes. Unfortunately, this oversight results in failed audits.

Addressing how your employees interact with your technology helps ensure that your business meets compliance standards.

2. Relevant laws and regulations

Ultimately, you can't start your compliance process without understanding the laws and regulations applicable to your organization. This is also known as "third-party IT compliance."

Laws and regulations stipulate the policies that govern IT compliance requirements. An industry regulatory body creates third-party IT compliance.

Third-party IT compliance determines which cybersecurity practices must be followed within that industry. It also creates standards for how the industry compiles, stores, and accesses data.

For instance, HIPAA works to protect patient confidentiality in the healthcare field. On the financial side, PCI DSS ensures all credit cardholder data is encrypted for customer protection.

There must be evidence of the standards being read, understood, and followed. Everything is recorded according to compliance standards and reviewed in an annual audit.

Legal action will be taken if these frameworks are not followed. In addition, the offending business must pay significant fines for violations.

3. Raising employee awareness of your IT compliance policy

Untrained employees can be one of the biggest threats to your IT security. Their actions can have a significant impact on cybersecurity.

Many employees opt for insecure data transfer methods due to their convenience. Some of the tools they use are personal emails, consumer-grade collaboration apps, and instant messaging. Unfortunately, these are ideal targets for cybercriminals.

Users must understand where various threats originate and what actions create vulnerabilities.

Investing in proper education demonstrates the significance of IT compliance. In addition, your efforts can help team members willing to adopt the best practices in this field.

When developing your training plan, make sure to include several key topics:

  • How insecure file transfer methods expose your company to risks
  • Avoiding phishing scams
  • Precautions to exercise before using or downloading unsanctioned applications
  • The conditions for using and creating strong passwords

4. How your IT policy aligns with the company's security policies

Aligning IT compliance with your business operations involves understanding your organization's culture. Cybersecurity as a business culture creates an environment where people want to participate. Employees are more likely to engage when it's a policy they can believe in.

Enterprises that embrace security processes benefit from issuing in-depth policies to ensure compliance.

By contrast, companies that do not adopt a security culture require detective and preventive controls. This can lead to increased vulnerabilities and frustration for both users and leadership.

5. Understanding of your IT environment

Before creating an applicable IT compliance policy, you must understand your IT environment. This includes knowing how it interacts with users, vendors, clients, and networks. IT environments directly affect your IT policy compliance design.

There are two main kinds of IT environments:

  • Homogeneous environments
    Consists of standardized vendors, configurations, and models.
  • Heterogeneous environments
    Uses a wide range of security and compliance applications, versions, and technologies.

Generally, compliance costs are lower in homogeneous environments. Fewer vendors and technology add-ons provide less complexity and fewer policies. As a result, the price of security and compliance per system isn't as high as with heterogeneous solutions.

By understanding your environment, you can create an IT compliance policy that addresses your unique needs.

6. Accountability

IT policy compliance doesn't function without accountability. It entails defining organizational responsibilities, roles, and the assets individuals must protect. It also establishes who has the power to make crucial decisions.

Accountability begins from the top and encompasses executives.

These responsibilities are essential for IT policy compliance. For example, auditors need to verify compliance activity execution carefully. Otherwise, there's no way to ensure the implementation follows the plan.

7. Automation of the compliance process

Your IT continually evolves and grows. Unfortunately, internal auditors can only review a few user accounts and system configurations.

Automation is the only way to ensure you can evaluate enough systems regularly. Talk to your IT provider about automation tools you can use to streamline your compliance process and reduce risk.

Next steps for building your IT compliance policy

IT compliance is essential in protecting your business and customers from cyber threats.

As you build your IT compliance policy, you should consider the following:

  1. How people and processes align with technology
  2. Relevant laws and regulations
  3. Raising employee awareness of your IT compliance policy
  4. How your IT policy aligns with the company's security policies
  5. Understanding of your IT environment
  6. Accountability
  7. Automation of the compliance process

Understanding these factors can help you move your company toward IT compliance.

Some IT providers specialize in third-party IT compliance. However, if your current IT provider does not cover compliance services, it can recommend an IT compliance specialist.

WEBIT Services has helped clients reach their IT goals for over 25 years. During this time, WEBIT Services has built many connections in different areas of IT provider expertise.

If you'd like recommendations regarding IT compliance, schedule a thirty-minute evaluation with WEBIT.

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