What Does It Mean To Be Compliant?

What does it mean to be IT compliant? HIPAA, PCI, CMMC, and more. Realize everything you need to know about IT compliance.

Be IT Compliant or Be Ready to Pay the Price

You will hear the word compliant thrown around by IT personnel and various business advisors. There are so many issues that challenge you as a business owner you might be tempted to ignore this one as less than a top priority. That is a mistake.

Failing to Achieve Compliance

A recent survey of more than 365 senior executives by the Economist Intelligence Unit shows that many organizations are making that mistake. Only a few of those enterprises could claim to have comprehensive strategies and tactics in place to ensure compliance within their IT, financial, risk, and legal functions.

If that many major companies are admitting to gaps in their compliance requirements, it leaves one wondering why and what can be done about it.

Doug Bordonaro of ThoughtSpot notes compliance has always been a struggle for corporations. He also underlines the fact that today’s environment makes it more vital than ever to focus on and succeed in that struggle.

Beginning that process includes understanding that while compliance is different from the concept of security, they are closely related. Most companies are aware that the issue of cybersecurity is a growing concern for their survival. Compliance is a major part of achieving that security. When you fail to be compliant with industry standards, rules, processes, and guidelines established to ensure IT and data security, there is no effective security.

That reality broaches another reason being compliant must be a top priority. The procedures and rules related to compliance are established to minimize the success of attacks on your company’s IT systems and data. If a breach occurs and it is blamed in whole or part on a lack of compliance, your liability as a company is essentially unlimited.

Compliance also addresses regulatory and legal requirements placed on companies to ensure that protection. Thus, the liabilities for failing to meet those requirements go beyond the potential financial losses. Importantly, a company can be held liable for a lack of compliance even if a breach does not occur.

To put all this in context, proper and effective IT security includes understanding the regulatory and technical framework necessary to ensure full compliance. Then, the technical tools, systems, and processes must be put into place. Lastly, those must be monitored consistently to provide the proper defense of a company’s technology and data assets.

Compliant: A Complex and Ever-Changing Environment

The challenges of achieving compliance are made greater by its ever-changing nature. Rather than a static checklist, the existing regulations and requirements face constant changes and updates. Portions of these changes are the result of technical updates of software and systems. Other aspects come from changes in the nature of the threats companies are facing. Still further modifications come from state, federal, and international organizations and other organizations and regulatory bodies.

Depending on the specific industries in which a company participates, its management team will deal with compliance frameworks that may include:

  • HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a complex set of legislative requirements that affects every company handling any type of health care records and information. Title 2 of this act deals specifically with information security and privacy issues. It also contains proactive elements for preventing and responding to any electronic breaches of this data.
  • PCI DSS. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is an associational framework established for all companies that process or handle any type of consumer financial information. There are multiple levels of requirements that are applicable based on the number of transactions processed annually. These standards alone address several specific compliance requirements, including maintaining a secured network and running regular tests and reviews of the network and security policies.
  • SOX. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act establishes minimum requirements for the maintenance and care of corporate financial data. These requirements are essential for public companies and any that may seek to go public or be acquired by a public company.

Service Organization Control Reports and the ISO 27000 family of standards are two additional compliance frameworks. Depending on the focus of your firm there are likely additional requirements that require attention to maintain full compliance.

Barriers to Compliance

Facing the current and post-COVID work environments have added a new dimension to the requirements of compliance. Dealing with remote workforces and the BYOD world of remote devices presents new and highly vulnerable sources of threats to security. Planning and monitoring mobile devices is an essential part of avoiding compromises to corporate systems and information.

Compliant management of your software apps and networks requires dealing with frequent and important updates, fixes, and patches. Blackhat operators and hackers have moved to searching out vulnerabilities in third-party software and systems to breach corporate defenses. By their nature as a response to these efforts, prompt and aggressive management of updates and patches is part of the first line of defense.

If you add to these the growing role of the Internet of Things (IoT), Electronic Data Interchanges (EDI) and various vendor compliance issues, the mix of potential oversights to being compliant grows exponentially. These concerns are made more pressing when it is understood that as much as 63 percent of all data breaches originate with third-party vendors.

While the discussion on cybersecurity often focuses on prevention, it is also essential to have a well-planned response to any actual or suspected breaches. This is especially the case when third parties are involved. You will find that having a knowledgeable partner that knows your IT structure is invaluable in those situations. This also includes aggressive maintenance of current backups and remote storage processes.

Realized Solutions exists to assist you in dealing with and managing these challenges and be compliant. Your internal IT resources are rightfully focused on your organization’s operations and daily requirements. Security is, of course, one of those concerns. However, the rapidly changing environment and requirements of maintaining compliance make it unrealistic for the average IT team to monitor and respond to those frequent changes.

Providing proactive and time external assistance and monitoring of your compliance efforts are primary missions of our firm. Let us turn your compliance headaches into a source of security and peace of mind with just one call.