Four Tips for Doing Compliance Yourself

Keeping your organization’s data management and infrastructure compliant is critical to preventing breaches, appeasing auditors, and implementing best practices — but it’s hard to know where to start. If you know you need to get and stay compliant, here are four tips for getting started.

1. Inventory Your Assets

Before you can get your entire system compliant, you need to know what you’ve got. The first step on the pathway to compliance is performing an asset inventory. This is challenging for administrators who often don’t have accurate counts of all the servers, devices, tools, hardware and software that are running on their systems. If your inventory is incomplete, you run the risk of exposing your business to unwelcome threats and malicious actors. Moving past this point all of your compliance decisions are predicated on the fact that your solution protects all systems, hardware and software included.

2. Pick a Standard — Just One

You know you want to be compliant — but compliant to what? The second step in your organization’s journey towards compliance is selecting a standard. If you’re in a highly regulated industry, it’s likely the choice has been made for you -- think HIPAA for healthcare, DISA for government (DoD). If your organization is seeking best practices, organizations like the Center for Internet Security (CIS) offer cybersecurity benchmarks. Choosing a single framework to start is important for preventing your compliance efforts from overtaking other business goals. It’s tempting to try to achieve every metric, but that’s a fast track to overwhelm and frankly not possible. Pick a framework and focus on achieving that level of compliance.

3. Assign Point People

Now that you know what you need to do, you have to choose the person in charge of each aspect of your compliance strategy. Choosing one individual to be the owner of each aspect of your compliance program is paramount as this individual will implement, evaluate, and determine how compliance standards are maintained on a specific division, application, or device. It’s tempting to assume the system administrator will own it — but that can become a problem if they don’t know each asset individually to make case-by-case decisions. System administrators manage networks and infrastructure, which means a separate baseline owner will be needed to own compliance on the application level.  A baseline owner will be educated enough to make compliance decisions based on environmental conditions, business situations, and risk assessments. There are many situations where a baseline owner might decide to make a modification or adjust the compliance roadmap to better fall in line with the realities of the organization's systems and hardware. Oftentimes you will need multiple baseline owners as keeping some systems compliant requires specialization. Assigning the appropriate subject matter experts will ensure your organization can be compliant at every level — and that your systems, tools, and devices continue to function.

4. Develop a Process

The final step in implementing compliance is developing a process around monitoring and keeping existing systems compliant. Organizations should ask questions like: How can we implement, maintain, evaluate systems on a regular basis? How often do we evaluate our assets? How often do we introduce new assets, such as software or hardware? Do we need to update our compliance, and if so, how frequently?  Making your process repeatable and scalable while staying in constant compliance is the goal. Personnel changes, audit requirements, and planned regulatory changes should all be factored in. Each quarter, audit, or compliance strategy change should be accompanied by a reflection on lessons learned and ways to improve in the future. Establishing an overall process, your organization not just gets compliance, but stays compliant, and  responds to threats swiftly and effectively. 

Following these four tips will help you launch an “MVP” strategy. Compliance is a critical piece of your organization’s infrastructure and cybersecurity strategy, and setting and achieving compliance goals will ensure you’re threat-ready. 

Ready to move beyond the basics and automate your organization’s compliance? Sicura can help save time and get you audit ready so your team can focus on business goals. Book a demo to learn more.