Keeping up with the IT (information technology) compliance guidelines is no longer an option but an absolute necessity. Cyber threats, crimes, and human error can all put your business at risk for legal consequences when information in your possession lands in the wrong hands. Therefore, your business needs to demonstrate that it meets the required security standards.
IT security compliance aims at helping you avoid legal troubles, fines, or penalties. It also helps to keep consumer information safe. You achieve this by creating systems and exercising practices that ensure data protection to keep breaches away. By complying, you're also safeguarding your business's reputation.
What Is IT Security Compliance?
IT security compliance are legally binding rules and guidelines that drive your business to keep better security practices. These practices help maintain the security of business and customer information against fraud, phishing scams, ransomware, and malware attacks. IT security compliance is about meeting third-party guidelines that enable your business to offer services to a particular market.
Compliance and security are interconnected. But compliance aims mainly to keep up with government policies, security frameworks, industry regulations, and client contractual terms. To keep your business compliant with IT security, here are four best practices to employ.
1. Know Regulatory Environment
While it may seem like an obvious thing to say, you need to know your industry's IT security regulatory environment to stay compliant. While some businesses operate a full-fledged compliance function, most don't. Your business may be among those without the capability, personnel, or expertise to keep up with each compliance regulation and requirement within the industry.
However, not having an explicit function for business compliance matters is not an excuse to not stay compliant with the regulations. If necessary, outsource help to handle IT security compliance or general compliance functions. One of the best and easiest alternatives is engaging a managed IT service provider.
They can handle your IT infrastructure better because they're conversant and well updated with IT security compliance issues within your industry. Fortunately, there are numerous managed IT services providers in all regions. Looking up for the services online with a simple search query such as IT services in Toronto will get you results of providers within the area.
But you need to be careful when engaging a managed services provider. Carry out due diligence to ensure they're reliable, reputable, experienced, and available. In addition, ensure they're familiar with your area of business to help with matters of compliance.
2. Develop A Risk Assessment Plan
You need to conduct a risk assessment in all business functions, including the compliance function. This is the best way to identify vulnerabilities within your IT security system to enable you to take a proactive approach before the security risks materialize. When you have known weak points, you can make more informed decisions on which areas to focus compliance.
Part of compliance includes keeping sensitive client and business data secure from unauthorized access by strengthening your IT infrastructure. When you carry out thorough risk assessments, you're able to account for the security and compliance of all functions. When carrying out a risk assessment plan, consider the following:
Identify the type of data you hold and the risk level of each
Identify where your data is stored
Check who and where information is accessed
Evaluate the state of your networks and information systems
3. Establish Effective Security Controls
Identifying vulnerabilities and risks levels is only one part of ensuring IT security compliance. You also need to create security control measures that will help manage the risks. When you look at it clearly, compliance is only a reporting function showing that your business meets the requirements set. However, you can't afford to comply just for the sake of it.
Simply checking the compliance box and moving on will still leave you at risk of security breaches, even when you're fully compliant. Embrace the regulations set to build a better security system for your business. What you need is to create a balance between compliance and security. Some of the areas you need to focus on when establishing IT security controls include the following:
Network access control
Data encryption and key management
System patching schedule maintenance
Firewall and router management
Incident response plan
4. Regularly Review Your Compliance Practices
Reviewing your IT security compliance practices from time to time is the best way to know what's working and what needs changing. Ensure you review your practices at least once a year. When picking the interval for the review, you need to consider your industry and the regulatory bodies your IT security compliance falls under.
You may find that you need to review your practices more often than annually. Ultimately, constantly reviewing to check if everything is updated and effective is an excellent practice in compliance.
IT security compliance is necessary if you want to avoid costly litigation, penalties, and fines. But managing it requires a good knowledge of compliance regulations in your industry and deliberate efforts to ensure security within your business. Hopefully, the practices shared above can point you in the right direction in matters of IT security compliance.