Why Regulatory Compliance and IT Strategy Go Hand in Hand

Many organizations that are subject to government and industry regulations are struggling to maintain compliance. The sophistication of modern cyber threats, the growing use of cloud services, and the influx of personal mobile devices in the workplace have complicated data security and privacy.

The challenge is to maintain infrastructure security, prevent data loss and ensure the privacy of sensitive information. Meanwhile, cloud computing has introduced a complicated wrinkle to the equation. Where is data being stored? How is it being secured? Are compliance concerns being addressed by the cloud service provider?

Mobility and the cloud have also led many employees to use consumer-grade apps and services that don’t meet regulatory compliance requirements. Employees need to know better, and organizations must have systems in place to prevent such risky behavior.

As modern IT infrastructure and services create compliance issues, regulators are introducing stricter rules. For example, the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council (SSC), which establishes security compliance requirements for companies that accept credit card payments, has made payment security a daily business process rather than a yearly review. This isn’t surprising in light of the many high-profile security breaches involving well-known retail brands.

Organizations in other regulated industries should expect more stringent requirements as well. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is designed to ensure that personal health information is kept private and secure. The Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services has launched new audit requirements for HIPAA compliance that we’ll discuss in a future post.

To maintain regulatory compliance and consumer confidence, organizations should make their regulatory compliance strategy part of their overall IT strategy. Regulatory compliance can be impacted by various components of your IT environment, including disaster recovery and business continuity, data storage and backup, cloud and onsite data center security, patch management and network monitoring.

Unfortunately, too many organizations take a piecemeal approach to compliance, implementing short-term fixes instead of developing a long-term strategic approach. This ends up costing more time, effort and money while increasing the risk of, and slowing the response to, a security breach.

There are a number of steps organizations can take to make their regulatory compliance strategy successful:

  • Make compliance part of the company culture and all employees’ job descriptions so everyone recognizes that compliance is a shared responsibility.
  • Ensure that everyone is aware of the importance and benefits of compliance, both to the organization and the customer.
  • Educate all departments about the ramifications of being non-compliant, including heavy fines and a damaged reputation and even criminal prosecution.
  • Automate as much as possible to reduce manual errors, quickly generate compliance reports and make better use of IT resources.
  • Use internal audits and reviews to correct and improve compliance processes, management, reporting quality and compliance data.

Both IT environments and regulatory requirements are constantly changing, so it’s important to partner with an IT solutions provider with the tools and processes to help you monitor and respond to those changes. Atlantic-IT.net, your outsourced IT department, can help you maintain an IT environment that minimizes risk and protects both your organization and your customers.