IT Compliance Policy Essentials

February 21, 2024

What To Include in Your IT Compliance Policy

Around the world, governments are passing stricter regulations when it comes to consumer data. Many organizations are struggling to keep up, with one report finding that  95% of American companies  are not compliant with the EU’s new set of GDPR regulations. Noncompliant companies that operate in the EU can face fines in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and many US states are passing stricter compliance laws in the coming year as well. Investing in your organization’s IT compliance policy has never been more important.

IT Compliance Policy Essentials Compyl

What Is an IT Compliance Policy?

A compliance policy is a system for protecting and responsibly handling personal data within an organization. It must adhere to all applicable regulations and is subject to audits that grade its effectiveness. It should involve internal evaluations and concrete data proving that the organization’s IT security policies work.

Creating a strong strategy for IT compliance is more involved than updating passwords and putting digital failsafes in place. Many organizations rely on blanket solutions for data protection, skipping over the crucial strategizing phase.

Every compliance decision should address a specific threat within your unique organization. Imprecise measures can lead to poor performance on audits, data breaches and fines.

What Does Every IT Compliance Policy Need?

Standards for IT compliance vary widely by location and by industry. However, there are several key elements every organization should incorporate.


The first step of many compliance audits and certification applications is strategy. Before changing anything on the technical end, an organization must first identify its security vulnerabilities and rank their importance on an objective scale. Remember that every device that can access private data — including cell phones — is a potential attack surface.

Vulnerabilities include people as well as machines. Phishing scams target employees at all levels of a company, up to and including executives. Partners and third-party vendors can also be potential vulnerabilities.


Document every step of the policy-crafting process for auditing and certification purposes. Documentation also helps an organization adjust its security strategy based on incoming data. Run preliminary IT security tests as a baseline to prove the effectiveness of new policies.

Accountability and Data

Digital threats are always evolving. Every compliance plan needs continuous ways of generating concrete data on the organization’s security strength. Accountability tools include:

  • Internal surveys and interviews
  • Internal tests, such as a mock phishing email sent by the IT compliance team
  • Automated data-gathering programs
  • External penetration tests
  • External audits from regulatory organizations

Up-to-date hard numbers are the best way to convince auditors, shareholders and customers that an IT compliance policy is effective.


Meeting and maintaining compliance is a costly and labor-intensive project. An enterprise-level business may have thousands of attack surfaces and hundreds of employees who must access sensitive information. A fully manual approach to compliance is inefficient and unlikely to be successful even for small businesses, as data security is a round-the-clock job.

Encryption tools, security information and event management programs, software patch management tools and user access management tools can all be part of an IT compliance strategy. More pieces of technology does not necessarily make data more secure, however. Too many unrelated programs can make compliance overcomplicated, risking oversights and mistakes.

An  all-in-one compliance platform  can give security data at a glance and even help craft new policies to address an organization’s specific threats. These platforms also automatically gather the data required to pass audits, guiding IT compliance teams through the process. Scalable platforms offer customized options for different industries and business sizes.

How Does IT Compliance Vary Across Industries?

Each industry and location has different guidelines for private information. While every IT compliance policy has fundamental aspects in common, an organization must also adjust to fit the needs of its specific oversight legislation or board. Some of the most common compliance standards are HIPAA, GPDR and PIC DSS.


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a well-known U.S. federal law that regulates the use and security of individuals’ health information. Its regulations apply to anyone in the healthcare industry or those who electronically send or receive healthcare data.

To be HIPAA-compliant, an organization cannot share any medical information without the patient’s consent. It must also keep medical information secure against digital attacks and alert anyone whose medical information is compromised in an attack.


General Data Protection Regulations — the EU’s IT compliance laws — are stricter than most. Any organization that does business in the EU with consumer data is subject to these many regulations, which include informing consumers before gathering or using any data. Many companies are not GPDR compliant, and the EU has issuedthousands of finesover the past five years, totaling nearly €4.5 billion.


If an organization processes any online payments, it is subject to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. These standards apply to e-commerce businesses that use consumers’ payment card data. This data must be on secure servers with access protection, meaning that employees cannot access the data unless it is vital to their role.


IT compliance can be a difficult subject to conceptualize since it involves many nontangible elements. Here are two common concerns.

What Is an Example of IT Compliance?

One example of IT compliance is an e-commerce business that allows customers to save their credit card numbers for faster checkout. This data should be encrypted on a secure server, and IT professionals should ensure that only the necessary employees can access the data. Periodic penetration tests must ensure the data is protected from cybercriminals.

How Might IT Compliance Change in the Near Future?

Many governments are introducing new compliance regulations in the coming years. The newCalifornia Consumer Privacy Actapplies to all organizations that do business in California and is based on the GPDR model. Many other states are passing their own privacy acts with stricter compliance regulations.

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Where Can You Find the Tech To Power Your Organization’s IT Compliance Policy?

Compyl is a user-friendly, all-in-one platform that simplifies the problem of creating an effective IT compliance policy. Its single dashboard provides real-time security data and can help an organization adhere to all applicable regulations, whether it is a small business or an enterprise-level corporation.Request a demoto see how Compyl can help your organization meet its security and compliance needs.


How do organizations prioritize which IT compliance standards to follow given the variety of industry-specific guidelines and general regulations?

Organizations prioritize IT compliance standards based on several factors, including the nature of their industry, the type of data they handle, and the geographical locations where they operate. For businesses in healthcare, compliance with HIPAA is paramount due to the sensitive nature of health information they deal with. Companies that process or store credit card information must prioritize PCI DSS to safeguard payment data. For organizations operating internationally, particularly in or with citizens of the European Union, GDPR compliance is crucial to ensure the protection of personal data. The prioritization process involves a comprehensive risk assessment to identify which regulations are most relevant to the organization’s operations and pose the highest risk in case of noncompliance. Legal and compliance teams within the organization, often in consultation with external experts, develop a compliance roadmap that aligns with the company’s business strategy and operational capabilities, ensuring that efforts are focused on meeting the most critical and relevant compliance obligations first.

In what ways can small businesses with limited resources effectively meet complex IT compliance requirements?

Small businesses can effectively meet complex IT compliance requirements by focusing on a few key strategies. First, they should concentrate on understanding the specific requirements that apply to their business, which can often be achieved through simplified guides or summaries of the larger regulations. Leveraging cloud services that offer built-in compliance features for data storage and processing can also reduce the burden, as these services often come with certifications for major compliance standards. Small businesses might consider outsourcing certain aspects of their IT compliance to third-party providers who specialize in compliance and security services, offering a cost-effective way to access expert knowledge and resources. Additionally, adopting a phased approach to compliance, focusing on the most critical areas first and gradually expanding the compliance program as resources allow, can make the process more manageable. Educational resources, including webinars, workshops, and online courses, can also provide valuable guidance on navigating compliance challenges with limited resources.

How do changes in technology or regulations impact existing IT compliance policies, and how should organizations adapt?

Changes in technology or regulations necessitate regular updates to existing IT compliance policies to ensure ongoing compliance. As technology evolves, new vulnerabilities and threats emerge, requiring updates to security practices and compliance measures. Similarly, regulatory changes can introduce new requirements or modify existing ones. Organizations must establish a process for continuous monitoring of both the technological landscape and regulatory environment to identify relevant changes promptly. This involves subscribing to updates from regulatory bodies, participating in industry forums, and leveraging information from compliance and security experts. To adapt, organizations should conduct regular compliance audits and assessments to identify gaps in their current policies and practices. Updating IT compliance policies in response to these changes requires a cross-functional effort, involving IT, legal, compliance, and business units, to ensure that the policies are not only technically feasible but also aligned with business objectives and regulatory requirements. Implementing an agile compliance management process that allows for rapid adjustments to policies and practices is essential for staying ahead of evolving compliance challenges.

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