Understanding IT compliance for UK businesses
Today’s businesses are required to comply with a variety of legislation and regulation, including IT regulations. IT compliance failures can result in serious consequences, such as heavy fines and sanctions. Due to this, it’s vital that business owners, managers, and employees are aware of their responsibilities and obligations when it comes to IT compliance.
What regulations do you need to comply with?
The first issue to address is what regulations your business is subject to. As a UK company, you’ll be required to adhere to all generic IT legislation and regulation, such as the Data Protection Act, which incorporates the principles of the EU’s GDPR. However, there may be sector-specific regulations that are applicable to your business too.
While it’s essential to be aware of UK IT regulation, you’ll also need to consider whether overseas regulations apply to your business. If you offer services in other jurisdictions or process data owned by users in other countries, it’s highly that you’ll need to comply with the relevant IT regulations in that jurisdiction, regulation or country too.
So, if your company processes healthcare data relating to U.S. patients, for example, you’ll need to comply with HIPAA, even though you’re a UK business and HIPAA is a U.S. regulation.
Contractual IT compliance
As well as adhering to IT legislation, you’ll also need to factor in regulations that are enforced via contract, such as the PCI DSS. While this isn’t a legal requirement, companies that process or transmit data belonging to cardholders must be compliant with PCI DSS in accordance with the PCI Security Standards Council.
As you can see, even figuring out which IT rules and regulations apply to your business can be complicated! Fortunately, our experienced IT team is adept at identifying and implementing appropriate protocols to ensure your business remains compliant with relevant IT regulations and legislation.
Complying with IT regulations
Although there are numerous regulations relating to IT compliance, many of them contain similar or duplicate principles. This means you can achieve compliance by implementing and maintaining a secure IT network and a failsafe data management system.
For example, most IT regulations cover core areas, including:
- Access control
- Data sharing restrictions
- Prevention of data loss
- Malware protection
- Incident response
- Reporting and monitoring
- Disaster recovery
Although these areas are critical to IT compliance, appropriate processes and protocols can also have benefits for your business. Malware protection will help keep you compliant with IT regulations, for example, but it will also reduce the risk of downtime and keep your systems secure. Similarly, effective disaster recovery strategies mitigate loss and enable business continuity, as well as ensuring IT compliance.
Is your IT infrastructure compliant?
Unless you’ve taken a proactive approach to ensuring IT compliance, then the answer is probably no.
While some software and platforms claim to have in-built IT compliance features, these are rarely sufficient to ensure organisation-wide compliance. After all, you need to analyse how data is managed throughout your company to determine if you’re compliant and not simply assess one aspect of your data management.
If you’re unsure whether your IT systems are compliant with relevant regulations, then it’s well worth talking to our IT experts who can help you determine whether action is required to bring your infrastructure up to date with the latest regulations.
IT compliance vs IT security
It’s easy to assume that IT compliance and IT security are the same thing, but this isn’t the case. While there is certainly some crossover between the two, a secure IT system isn’t necessarily compliant with all IT regulations.
Your network may be protected against external threats, for example, but a failure to implement in-house access controls could mean that you’re not IT compliant.
Due to this, it’s important to approach IT compliance and IT security separately, while recognising the symbiotic relationship they have. While IT security solutions will, in many cases, enable you to achieve IT compliance, it’s still important to assess and monitor your IT compliance in isolation.
What are the consequences of IT compliance failures?
IT compliance failures can have significant consequences for your business. For example, you could be fined for failing to comply with data regulations and your operations could be disrupted if you’re unable to continue processing data until your IT systems have been updated to achieve compliance.
In addition to this, you’ll need to consider the reputational damage that could befall your business if non-compliance becomes public knowledge. Losing the trust of your customers can cause irreparable damage to your brand, so don’t discount the impact the IT compliance failures could have on your company and your future.
Making your business IT compliant
With support from external IT experts, making sure your business is IT compliant becomes simple and stress-free. No matter what industry you operate in or how far your operations extend, we’ll ensure your IT systems meet the relevant regulations so that you can focus on your core business areas while we implement and maintain a secure and compliant digital environment for your organisation.
To find out more or to discuss IT compliance requirements in more detail, contact totality services now on 020 3744 3105 or message us here.