A Compliance State of Mind

By | September 5, 2006

In order for companies to succeed, however, they need to view regulatory compliance as the means to an end and not an end in and of itself. By recognizing the need to integrate compliance as a strategic component, businesses will be able to deliver on their overall mission to improve business operations, enhance profit margins, and increase market share.

In order to achieve these goals, one of the first things a company must do is involve multidisciplinary teams of individuals from key departments, including: finance, IT, legal, HR, and others. In so doing, businesses can generate a compliance committee that is better able to understand and evaluate the entire organization’s needs and capabilities. This also gives them the ability to work successfully within their own departments to effect positive changes.

Automatic Improvement

One of the most challenging facets of regulatory compliance is finding and recording gaps and exposures. This becomes especially taxing when most organizations must satisfy three or more regulatory directives each year. The immediate and critical nature of demonstrating compliance has prompted some businesses to try to leverage homegrown, manual methods. While companies may be attracted by this approach’s low implementation cost, its limitations become apparent as organizations struggle with scalability and reliability over time.

Consequently, many organizations are accelerating the use of automation in IT and IT-enabled business functions to help demonstrate compliance more cost-effectively and efficiently. Implementing an automated, consistent, and repeatable process for testing, measuring, remediating, and reporting on the state of IT-related security controls can result in continual performance improvement.

An automated toolset combined with analysis and remediation, auditable processes, and ongoing management and monitoring, makes it possible to correlate business requirements with regulations and policies. The framework for ensuring compliance and long-term performance improvements follows an iterative process of defining and documenting policies, controlling deficiencies, and going beyond simply fixing symptoms of an insufficiency to actually creating the policies and practices that help eradicate the cause.

Organizations can do this by using automated policy management tools to define, create, and disseminate policies and track user acceptance or waivers. However, effective security has become more complicated because many companies are impacted by more than one mandate and use these tools to map policies to multiple frameworks, standards, and regulations. Identifying IT security and risk is made easier through technology that evaluates mission-critical applications and operating systems and intelligently assesses and reports deviations in areas such as password strength, default accounts, user rights and permissions, and vulnerability and patch status. Security threats that affect business-critical applications are automatically identified and prioritized.

Leave a Reply