3 Key Tips for Implementing a Compliance Program from Scratch

You’ve been told you need to implement a compliance program. Your industry has come under more intense regulation, or management is growing concerned about breaches. It feels daunting -- but this is a learning experience for you and your team! Seize the opportunity and start thinking like a teacher. 

1. Secure Team Buy-In

“Things are moving along nicely.”
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
“We've always done it this way.”
“What we do now works.”

Introducing any kind of change when things are working fine on your software development or DevOps team can be frustrating to them and overwhelming to you, quickly becoming a contentious uphill battle. You need your team to be bought in so they can help develop and execute your compliance strategy — how do you win over that while something is “fine” it could be great?

Before any actual work begins, you need to make sure your engineers are bought-in to the process. It’s time to think like a teacher. Share the reasons why these changes are being made so they understand the stakes and relevance of the major work they’re about to undertake. Instead of feeling like arbitrary rules are being imposed out of nowhere, your team will feel informed and prepared for the upcoming changes. 

Whether you need to meet the DISA STIGs, report on various NIST standards like 800-53 or 800-171, meet CIS Benchmarks, prepare for a compliance audit, or implement organization specific controls, preparing your team and getting their buy-in will set you up for an efficient, friendlier process. You’ll level up their knowledge and they will feel ownership over the decision.

2. Don't Aim for Perfection

If you are able to implement 100% of a particular compliance standard on your infrastructure — congratulations! Also, your system probably doesn’t work now…

If your team is unable to implement a particular control, be prepared to explain why it is not possible and be ready to present factors that mitigate the risk of not meeting that particular control. Eventually, you’ll need to prepare a plan to  move towards meeting that control in the future. You’ll need to balance short-term capabilities with long-term goals in order to achieve true compliance. 

3. Automate to Stay on Track

Whether you are trying to implement enforcement for CIS Benchmarks or respond to other technical compliance requirements, the task is daunting. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. Planning ahead to take advantage of the technology available to automate the implementation will allow you to move faster and more consistently.

After implementation, automating continual enforcement of compliant settings will give your cybersecurity lead assurance that they are remaining compliant over time. Automating everything that can be automated saves valuable time, money and resources across the organization.

By using a tool like Sicura, you can evaluate your environment, remediate findings, and enforce secure settings moving forward. You can also take advantage of automating your CI/CD pipelines, integrating your Sicura results with Splunk, and much more.

Whether you are meeting with stakeholders, management, team members or auditors, take the time to clearly explain the requirements, your objectives, and the goals. Invite and make time to listen to questions, concerns, and explanations raised. Be prepared to lead the discussion and make it a conversation. Take the time and effort to teach, your team and your future self will thank you!