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

The challenge is to manage infrastructure security, prevent data loss, meet data integrity requirements and quickly deploy patches. 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? Who technically owns the data?

Mobility and the cloud have also led many employees to utilize shadow IT solutions and rogue clouds. In fact, one healthcare organization recently received a heavy fine because physicians used consumer-grade cloud storage to share patient information. Employees need to know better, and organizations must have a system 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, is making payment security a daily business process rather than a yearly review. After the high-profile security breach involving Target, this isn’t surprising.

Organizations of all sizes in other regulated industries should expect more stringent requirements as well. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) ensures that financial information is kept private and secure by financial institutions, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does the same for patient records in the healthcare industry. Both could very well introduce new regulations or guidelines for protecting sensitive data.

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, private cloud and onsite data center security, patch management and network monitoring.

Unfortunately, too many organizations take a piecemeal approach to compliance, implementing short-term patches instead of developing a long-term strategy. 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.
  • Educate all departments about the importance and benefits of compliance, both to the organization and the customer.
  • Educate all departments about the ramifications of being non-compliant, including criminal prosecution, heavy fines and a damaged reputation.
  • 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 environments are constantly changing, so it’s important to partner with an IT solutions provider that understands how to integrate your regulatory compliance strategy with your overall IT strategy. This will help you design, deploy and maintain an IT environment that minimizes risk and protects both your organization and your customers.

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