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Understanding the Basics of IT Compliance

Understanding the Basics of IT Compliance

February 2, 2022

Since 2018, GDPR has issued over 800 fines worth over $139 million. That’s because many of those companies didn’t follow common IT compliance policies.

You’ll want to prevent your organization from suffering the same fate. So, you should learn how these processes work and ways to manage your data properly.

Follow this guide and you’ll understand the basics of IT compliance. Afterward, read how to create an effective compliance program to protect your IT assets and your organization from penalties.

IT Compliance Basics

There’s a lot to learn about IT compliance programs. Moreover, there are many definitions. However, this guide will take the guesswork of figuring out this complex subject and first dive into the basics.

What Is IT Compliance?

IT compliance is a system of policies, processes, procedures, and individuals who ensure entities comply with applicable laws and regulations. Its a means to conduct ethical business practices by managing and securing IT assets and data properly.

Moreover, they’re used to prevent, detect, and fix any risks that entities pose.

What Is an IT Compliance Program?

Conversely, IT compliance programs are the mediums that enforce ethical data management. These bodies maintain these compliance protocols with an investigation, monitoring, policies, and procedures to prevent organizations from noncompliance.

Depending on what industry you’re in or the type of data you’re handling, different organizations regulate data in various means. For instance, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) heavily regulates data involving European citizens.

If businesses fail to adhere to the regulations above, then they’ll face disciplinary measures like penalties.

Do You Need an IT Compliance Program?

There is no one-size-fits-all compliance program. However, when crafting an IT compliance program, you will need to tailor it to the following entities:

  • Education facilities
  • Government agencies
  • Publicly traded companies
  • Private businesses
  • Non-profit organizations and foundations

Most Important IT Compliance Standards

There are a lot of governing bodies that you must maintain data compliance with. However, the following organizations and acts are the most common standards you will need to meet to avoid complications.


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulate medical record security. That means they handle collecting, storing, transferring, and conducting other actions related to handling sensitive healthcare information.

To maintain HIPAA compliance, first, you must not disclose patient information without consent. Afterward, provide notifications.

And finally, meet HIPAA’s security standards. That means you need to have safeguards in place to protect patients’ data.


Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) handles and promotes transparency in the disclosure of financial information. They ensure shareholders and the general public receive accurate information about initial public offerings (IPOs) and publicly traded companies.


GDPR was set up by the European Union (EU) to protect European citizens’ data. Their requirements apply to any business that handles data of EU citizens. It doesn’t matter whether your business is within or outside the European Union.

To adhere to GDPR, you must provide a means of consent before collecting data from individuals. Moreover, you must give them the means to opt-out of letting a business handle their data. If the individual opts out of data collection, the organization has to delete all previously collected data.


Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) regulates the protection of financial card information. They set their sights on all entities that handle debit cards, credit cards, and cash information.

To meet their requirements, you must maintain transparency with how you handle transactions. Moreover, you have to ensure you have security and monitoring measures to protect customers’ data.

How to Create an Effective IT Compliance Program

Since you now understand the basics of IT compliance, it’s time for you to create a program for your business. Follow these five steps, and you’ll be on your way to following compliance regulations and protecting sensitive data.

1. Determine Your Policy

Figure out your organizations policy. Next, determine who you will expect to comply with the policy, procedures, standards, and supporting control. After knowing your policy, you must ensure you maintain and update these policies.

Moreover, build a platform that allows you to self-assess your policy, control risks, and track incidents within an IT environment.

2. Find Your Manager

You will next need to establish oversight over your policy. Ensure the individual will carry out compliance measures as documented in the policy. Moreover, this manager must hold all executives and any board accountable when referring to the policy.

3. Perform Background Checks

If anyone has access to data, you’ll need to ensure you and your data overseer can trust them. That way, you prevent internal threats from accessing sensitive data. Perform background checks on any individual who will have access to sensitive data.

4. Create Awareness Programs

Put in place programs that will train staff on the importance of proper data handling. Teach them why it’s important to adhere to external and internal regulations.

5. Plan Prevention and Responses

If you encounter any violations in policies or vulnerabilities, you must have a plan in place to mitigate damages or prevent the scenario altogether. For instance, identify and close all control gaps.

Build Your IT Compliance Program Today

If you don’t craft an IT compliance program, you’re putting your organization at risk. You won’t only lose trust from your customers and shareholders. You’ll also subject your organization to hefty penalties, among other punishments.

Take the information provided in this guide and create a compliance plan. It’s not as hard as you think, and it's essential.

Learn more about IT services in Columbus, Ohio. Explore our IT services guides, cyber attack resources, and other resources that’ll better secure your business.

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