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Overcoming compliance challenges: A 5-step path to governance

Do compliance audits keep you awake at night? If your answer is yes, I have some good news. There is a doable, five-step approach to achieving and maintaining compliance through proper governance. Start with security awareness and training, followed by access, auditing and data protection, so your IT staff can ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data while saving time and improving efficiency. Here is a five-step path to better IT governance.

  1. Assess: Review your security policies and determine where gaps exist at the business, system and user levels. These three areas must be aligned to avoid a ‘siloed mindset’ in which a lack of communication from systems and those who manage them results in data breaches. Make sure your policies meet security and compliance requirements. Next, establish security and compliance awareness training for users, and analyze access rights so you know who has access and makes changes to critical data, and be sure to determine configuration settings and set baselines. This will enable you to be proactive for your next compliance audit, and reduce unknown risks.
  2. Audit and Alert: Regularly track key security and performance indicators, and continually audit and report on user activity, including privileged users. Perform SOD checks to eliminate conflicts of interest. Lastly, enable real-time alerts on any suspicious activity or event trends to be better prepared for what external auditors will see, and to mitigate any issues beforehand.
  3. Remediate: Implement a set of preventative controls that will report on and rectify deviations and security breaches of regulated data. Go one step further with a solution to protect the organization from unwanted changes. Have a disaster recovery plan in place and test it regularly. If something unintended does happen and an outage occurs, this will ensure a speedy recovery, maintain productivity and keep systems online with no impact on the business.
  4. Manage: Use an automated management approach to quickly and easily administer and revoke access rights and permissions; implement best practice compliance reporting; protect, retain and retrieve data for on-the-fly investigations; and enforce compliance with company policies across desktops, laptops and mobile devices. Because employees are accessing information from various devices, it’s critical to enable them to be productive without sacrificing security. Not only will this help you with compliance, but will make you a business enabler, not a stumbling block.
  5. Govern: Establish a ‘hierarchy’ approach to address the organization’s various IT needs based on the level of impact each responsibility has on the business. Each layer – from access rights (baseline) to accountability and control (security), to policies, standards, guidelines and procedures (control), to reporting and auditing (management) – helps adhere to external standards (Governance). Continually measure, maintain and automate your environment so you can continually improve your security and compliance posture across the board.

Organizations need company-wide protection and compliance without impeding the business. Following the above five steps will ensure your organization complies with ongoing regulations, is prepared for a potential security breach, and has better IT governance

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