IT policy compliance is the implementation and management of information technology in accordance with accepted standards. For example, organizations have a variety of laws requiring compliance which also includes Data protection (in other words, information security) laws.
IT controls are just one aspect of being compliant and is such an important topic because the vast majority of business and government today is done through or with information technology. This ranges from using an e-commerce site for taking orders from customers online, to a bricks-and-mortar business using software for back-office accounting and order management. Organizations are run with IT, and this brings unique operational risks.
The applicability the IT policy compliance standards to your organization depends on a variety of factors, including:
- The nature of your business.
- The types of data being processed by your organization.
- The risks that apply to your environment.
However, IT compliance is just about technology. IT policy compliance is a complete ecosystem that includes:
- Organizational strategic objectives.
- User awareness and training.
- High-level policies.
- Procedures and standards.
- Configuration settings.
- Technology controls.
- Ongoing monitoring.
- Business risk assessments.
- Internal and external auditors.
Above all, however, compliance is about people, processes, and technology. Many companies put too much emphasis on the technology and end up failing audits due to their lack of attention on people and processes.
While IT makes this compliance ecosystem more complicated, using the right approach can help a company to automate its controls and controls monitoring. Benefits include
being able to:
- Monitor a larger range of transactions, controls, and systems than a person could ever assess using a manual process.
- Provide a level of consistency that eliminates the subjectivity of human review.
- Run metrics and reports that ultimately help you manage the quality of both your compliance program and operations overall.
Conformance with some broad standards, such as those from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or the International Standards Organization (ISO) can provide near or even simultaneous compliance with IT requirements of multiple laws and regulations.
Organizations that start by doing the right thing, and make reference to internationally adopted standards, can earn compliance as a by-product of a quality and controlled operational environment – and not simply for the sake of putting an ‘X’ on a legal checklist. In a word, compliance can trigger business benefits that transcend obedience to the letter of the law.