The Internet, the cloud, smartphones… They have all contributed to fast-paced content contribution and distribution around the world. Easily accessible information has been a great gift from technology, however, it has also raised security and compliance issues for corporations.
A key component of any IT audit is reviewing IT and Data Compliance. Our teams have recently received many enquiries about IT and data compliance, so thought we would give a brief overview to answer the most commonly asked questions.
What is IT compliance?
IT compliance encompasses two distinct areas – internal compliance and external compliance. Internal compliance refers to the processes and procedures within your businesses – for example, guidelines stating how employees should conduct themselves online. External compliance relates to the regulations established by entities outside your organisation – for example, Government rules mandating retention of emails for a stipulated period.
Why should my business be IT compliant?
Achieving compliance improves the resilience of your organisation, minimises security risks, and enhances productivity. In an age of rampant hacking and cyber-terrorism, ensuring security and compliance has never been more important. Regulations vary between industries, but in general, they focus on ensuring that businesses maintain appropriate records and can prevent unauthorised access to digital information.
What are my compliance and staff privacy responsibilities?
You need to be especially careful when storing sensitive personal data relating to race, political persuasion, health, religious views, sexuality, or criminal history. And, you must always obtain consent from the individuals concerned before capturing such information or passing the data to third parties. Employees play a major role in protecting sensitive information because techniques like social engineering and phishing usually target employees in the hope of gaining access to corporate data. It is important to equip your team to understand their compliance responsibilities.
Why should I adhere to compliance and customer information regulations?
If customer information is stolen because you didn’t implement appropriate security measures, you’re placing your business at risk of fines, penalties, legal costs, reputational damage, and the loss of your client’s trust and loyalty. So, while the initial cost of compliance may appear high, the cost of non-compliance can be many times greater.
What are my business’ key compliance and security measures?
An effective data compliance and privacy strategy should incorporate a range of controls including archiving, retention, risk management, network security, intrusion detection, data loss prevention, encryption, endpoint control and malware protection. These controls should work together to protect your critical enterprise data and to retain a record for future litigation or electronic discovery purposes.
Electronic discovery (also called e-Discovery) refers to the process by which electronic data is located, secured and researched for evidence to be used in civil or criminal cases. Data plays a key role in most serious criminal investigations, so it’s important for your business to ensure that law enforcement agencies can access information that may be connection with their investigations.
ISO Management System Standards (MSS) and IT
The International Standards Organization (ISO) is the world’s largest developer of standards, with membership spanning Europe, Asia and the Americas. They developed the ISO Management System Standards (MSS), which defines the methods by which an enterprise controls the interconnected parts of its organisation in order to drive productivity, improve workplace health and safety, and achieve many other objectives. For small businesses, this may simply mean having a clear direction and strong leadership, but larger and more complex organisations may require extensive processes and documentation to meet their legal obligations and achieve their business goals.
Some of ISO’s most famous standards are included in the ISO 9000 family. This set deals with quality management and processes while providing guidance for businesses that wish to continually improve their products and ensure they meet customer requirements. For IT, this means a strong focus on processes such as account creations and network security scan and reviews.
The ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards helps businesses secure and protect data such as employee details, financial records, intellectual property and customer information. There are over a dozen standards in the 27000 family, with the most well-known being 27001.
ISO/ IEC 27001 defines the requirements for an Information Security Management System (ISMS), which is a strategy for controlling sensitive business data. The main IT focus in this ISO is recording and retaining information.
An effective compliance strategy that encompasses people, processes, and technology is vital for every modern organisation. But all too often, many companies are so focused on growing their business that compliance is forgotten until disaster strikes. If you’re unsure whether your systems are compliant, engaging an experienced consultant like Bremmar to conduct an IT Audit can be an excellent way to protect your business.
If you’d like to check whether your organisation is in full compliance with relevant Australian and international laws and standards, contact us today on 1300 991 351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.