Regardless of the industry or sector that your company belongs to, a compliance audit is critical. For instance, when a violation is discovered, not only does a company have to endure costly penalties, but if it hasn’t complied with precise regulations, the damage to the company’s reputation can be particularly substantial. It is vital for the entire organization, including the IT department, to be prepared in meeting and exceeding compliance requirements. The IT department is not exempt from its share of compliance demands when it comes to auditing the numerous deployed applications in the company. Hence, if your organization is concerned about PCI, SOX, HIPAA, NERC, ISO 27001, FFIEC, FISMA or FERPA compliance frameworks, necessary steps must be taken to ensure it meets the required standards.
To help your company prepare for a compliance audit, here are some guidelines for organizations across industries and sectors.
- Conduct a self-compliance audit. To understand how your company is likely to fair in a compliance audit, you may want to contact an in-house inspection. As a mock exercise or a drill, you may want to appoint an internal team to perform the audit. Although an independent auditor can prove to be a better resource an alternative, it can be an excellent practice to involve internal teams and prepare them before an actual audit takes place. Either way, having the right documentation and follow-up procedures to rectify any limitations is crucial to passing any compliance audit.
- Recognize privileged and permitted users with shared credentials. It is essential to have a checklist of individuals authorized to access specific data, applications and systems, especially where access of confidential and sensitive documents is involved. Even if such individuals are using a shared account, such as administrator or root, getting them to log onto the server or network in a secondary identification window can help observe their activities. This can ensure that every action can be attributed to an individual user, thus factoring in accountability.
- Establish a compliance audit trail. The critical factor in passing a compliance audit is to have an audit trail of user actions. This trail can include a list of the changes made to a document or file, applications, database and services. It is crucial to be able to keep track of specific user activities and have evidence in the form of textual user activity logs.
- Supervise user activity. Regardless of whether the data file or document you have shared with an individual is a privileged user, business user, or a third-party consultant, it is imperative to monitor all user activity on the document. This can make auditing easy and ensure effortless compliance. Regardless of the applications or resources used to access the particular data file, observing all user activity can be useful confirmation of the individual’s access and use of the content.
- Be updated on the latest security trends. If a competitive organization has experienced a data breach, you may want to introspect and analyze your internal systems and ensure that your data, confidential documents, and network is secure. A hacking incident in another organization within your sector could spur compliance auditors in investigating your company for similar security deficiencies.
- Look out for new regulations. Since technology is continually evolving, it is essential to stay compliant. Keeping an eye out on changing rules, the growing security landscape and latest trends in your industry can help you to anticipate what is required of your company with regards to enforcement from regulatory agencies.
- Educate all users on new security systems and protocols. Internal staff and external users must be informed and trained on the latest security procedures and policies established in your company. For instance, you may want to teach your users on how confidential information in your company can be accessed and used and how this will be addressed in the presence of digital rights management installed in your system. Additionally, it can also help to train employees on how to create a strong password and other data security issues related to your organization.
While the tips mentioned above can help companies pass compliance audits, it is crucial that eventually, every compliance infringement will be discovered to the specific activities of a particular user. Regardless of whether the user is a third-party contractor or internal staff, their actions in collecting, storing and transmitting sensitive data are critical during an audit. It can help to ensure that the safety of your classified information is in accordance with compliance regulations, and this can be achieved by implementing document DRM security in the company. Document DRM can ensure that your organization meets stringent auditing requirements. It not only protects your data at rest and in motion, it can also proactively prevent a data breach by controlling how document content can be used, and offer unmatched context and visibility into user behaviour.