How To Verify IT Compliance With A Remote Workforce

How To Verify IT Compliance With A Remote Workforce

Automated compliance is one of the best ways to keep your organization safe from hacking, fines and other harm. In a virtual or remote working environment, your traditional approach to IT compliance may need to be refreshed. We’re going to solve that problem for you using a step by step process.

Step 1: IT Compliance — Go Back To The Basics First

Before you select automated compliance software solutions, you need to consider your goals. Fundamentally, why do you conduct IT compliance testing? In most organizations, there are a few reasons for compliance testing, including meeting legal and regulatory requirements (e.g., Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requirements in banking and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in health care) and minimizing risk. After all, merely proclaiming a corporate policy is not good enough if your organization ever suffers a hacking attack or lawsuit. You need procedures to verify those policies are operating activity.

To put this step into action, write out the specific organizational goals you are seeking to achieve with IT compliance before you seek new solutions.

Step 2: Determine Assurance Requirements For Your Remote Workforce

Now that you have confirmed your overall IT compliance goals, the next step is to determine specific assurance requirements. For example, you may push for a higher level of assurance depending on the sensitivity and risk involved with different assets and privileges. To illustrate this concept, consider the following: 

●  Business User Compliance With IT Compliance Controls. This measure will look at a relatively large number of users. In light of the volume of users, automated compliance is likely the best way to go.

●  Privileged Users. These users have special system access, such as the ability to approve and remove user access. As a result, there is a higher level of risk associated with this set of users. Therefore, you decide to apply a high level of assurance, including both automated compliance and select user interviews.

●  IT Training Completion. You can evaluate this area from two perspectives: quantitative and qualitative. From a quantitative point of view, check how many employees have completed the company’s IT security training if this program is offered regularly. From a qualitative point of view, review the questions employees are answering. Do they reflect real-world IT situations? If not, consider them less valuable in achieving compliance goals.

●  Management Support For IT Compliance. Assessing management support for IT compliance is sometimes tricky. If available, look for manager review for user access permissions. Besides, a creative approach might look at the quality of management action on open IT compliance findings. This measure will tell you whether the organization’s leadership is taking compliance problems seriously.

Step 3: Gather IT Compliance Information

In this phase, you will begin to gather IT compliance information. If you already have a centralized identity and access management software solution, a remote IT compliance assessment will be much easier. If the central IT systems have data limitations, you have a few options to gather more data.

Look through the following IT compliance information sources to find which ones apply to your organization’s situation. 

●  User surveys. Using a tool like Survey Monkey, you can send a short survey out to your employees to ask about knowledge of IT compliance topics. A survey is best used as a secondary resource to assess IT compliance.

●  Document reviews. By examining documents such as corporate standards, policies and IT procedures, you can assess the quality of compliance activities.

●  Training and Development Assessment. Take a few minutes to assess whether or not training resources are updated regularly to keep up with evolving IT apps and threats.

●  Manual Data Gathering. Discuss all of the data sources available with IT staff. In a remote workforce context, you may have to spend more time gathering data like sending out emails and gathering data through one-on-one calls.

●  Process Evaluation. Discover the processes that managers and staff use to carry out IT compliance. This step will probably require conference calls, video conferencing and other remote collaboration tools.

Step 4: Analyze IT Compliance Information

Once you have all the required compliance data in hand, you can begin to apply automated compliance techniques and traditional methods to evaluate your current situation. Here are some of the analysis techniques you can use to make sense of the data.

●  Score IT compliance controls on a scale. On a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is fully applied, report on each control.

●  Produce statistics with automated compliance tools. Software tools often have built-in reporting tools to help you understand the state of compliance. Look for statistics that tell you coverage (e.g., percentage of user accounts that have been reviewed in the past 90 or 180 days).

●  Summarize outliers. In most organizations, some user groups and departments may have particular struggles with IT compliance. For example, some may not know you have a password reset chatbot available to all employees. In that case, a lack of knowledge may lead to IT compliance breaches. Likewise, if you see individuals or departments performing exceptionally well in their IT compliance responsibilities, find out why they are doing well.

Step 5: Report On IT Compliance Status To Management

The final step of the IT compliance process is to report results to management. If this is the first time you have reported with a fully or mostly remote workforce, emphasize how you tested that risk. For example, you may have tested VPN security controls. When you find problems, make sure management is aware of those problems. Do not assume non-technical managers will automatically understand the implications of IT compliance gaps. Connect the gaps by showing them that poor IT compliance can increase the probability of a hacking event.

What To Do After You Complete The IT Compliance Testing Process

Completing an IT compliance exercise usually reveals a host of problems. You may find that your organization has an excessive reliance on manual processes like email approvals. In that case, consider recommending software solutions like Compliance Auditor. This tool helps you maintain detailed records so that future audits and compliance reviews can go more quickly. In addition, the mobile app interface means you can quickly get answers whenever you need them.

Written by Nelson Cicchitto