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Beyond Standards, Beyond Excellence – Navigating Compliance with Optimal IT Strategies

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In today’s information age, IT systems play a foundational role in helping businesses achieve their objectives and grow sustainably. Over the years, IT systems have become more complex and unwieldy, growing to encompass an ever-greater number of networks, systems and devices. This complexity creates challenges in terms of managing cyber risk, ensuring IT remains aligned with business objectives, and in ensuring continued adherence to regulatory compliance obligations.

This is where a carefully conceived, comprehensive IT strategy can make all the difference. An IT strategy is a masterplan that leverages technology as a way to achieve strategic gains in your business. This strategy should help you conquer commercial objectives, minimize cyber threats, and effortlessly maintain compliance: all at once!

Red Bigfoot – Supporting the Success of Denver Businesses with Strategic IT

Red Bigfoot is an established IT managed service provider based in Denver, CO. Our mission is to help businesses thrive and grow sustainably with technology that’s strategically aligned with commercial, operational and regulatory goals and requirements. We specialize in helping businesses in some of the most heavily regulated and technically complex environments, leverage technology as a vehicle for long-term success, by using it to systematize compliance and unlock meaningful productivity gains.

Whether you operate in energy or agriculture, food production or mining, we’ll help you develop a holistic IT strategy that provides a structured framework for ingraining compliance into every process and workflow in your business. This strategy will also closely consider your goals and future ambitions, so that we can create a carefully curated technology roadmap, ensuring the right solutions are deployed at the right time.

Why it’s Important to Use IT to Achieve Regulatory Compliance?

Many IT companies offer a ‘set menu’ of products and services, and fail to tailor their offering around the unique requirements and aspirations of their clients. We’re different. At Red Bigfoot, we understand that heavily regulated businesses need a bespoke, personalized approach to their IT, one that harnesses technology as a way to hardwire compliance into complex processes and workflows across every area of the business. Here’s why alignment between IT and compliance is a strategic imperative for businesses…

IT Can Provide Structure and Accountability

Compliance requires people, processes and technology to operate in alignment towards a singular goal. When IT is used in the capacity of a compliance framework, it can be leveraged as a means for ensuring accountability, delineating responsibilities, and keeping people and processes within the confines of regulations and standards that apply to your business.

IT Can Mitigate Risk

Data is a valuable commodity in our world today, and cybercriminals go to great lengths to exploit any loophole or vulnerability available to them. By aligning IT and compliance, and using the best technology to strategic affect, you can mitigate against cyber threats in a measured, risk proportionate way. This will safeguard your business against costly security incidents and protect it against fines and legal penalties that might otherwise arise from non-compliance.

Using IT to Empower Compliance Will Inspire Confidence

From customers and suppliers, to partners and shareholders, all stakeholders in a business expect their data to be handled responsibly and ethically, and in full adherence with any and all regulations that apply. By exhibiting your ability to use IT as a mechanism for achieving compliance, you’ll inspire confidence in your business among the people that matter, and bolster your reputation as a professional and responsible organization that takes its compliance duties seriously.

IT-driven Compliance Can Open Up New Markets

IT-driven compliance can be the key that unlocks new markets and opportunities for your business. By building a robust IT compliance strategy you could empower your business to bid for contracts for which regulatory compliance is an essential prerequisite, as is often the case with federal and public sector tenders. You’ll also help to position your company competitively, enabling you to gain an advantage over your peers, and capitalize on new revenue streams that can help you grow.

Our Compliance Solutions – How We Help Denver’s Regulated Businesses Succeed with IT-Driven Compliance

The terms ‘IT-driven compliance’ or ‘IT compliance strategy’ can seem vague and abstract. So to help, we want to provide some context to how we help Colorado businesses achieve compliance through the strategic use of IT.

Our compliance expertise extends to some of the most heavily regulated, compliance-laden sectors in the country, including energy, mining, construction, healthcare, food production, bio-medical manufacturing and other technically complex, process-controlled environments.

We develop customized compliance strategies for our clients that starts with a comprehensive IT audit and scoping session. During this process, we’ll seek to gain forensic understanding of your IT environment in its current state -of- play, and how well it aligns with and facilitates your compliance objectives. We then draw up a strategy for recalibrating your IT to better support your compliance needs. This is essentially a plan of action comprised of immediately actionable elements, alongside longer-term projects that can be delivered incrementally to minimize impact on your business.

Now let’s consider some of the IT-driven mechanisms we use to help our clients overcome their real-world compliance challenges, giving reference to key regulations and standards.

Disclaimer: the examples outlined below do not provide an exhaustive analysis of their respective regulations, and are intended to be illustrative of the ways we help our clients adapt their IT systems to suit a range of regulatory requirements.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

PCI DSS is an industry standard that applies to any business involved in the processing of electronic payment data. The standard’s mission is to ensure global consistency in the application of security measures covering electronic payment systems, ultimately to protect the data security interests of cardholders.

PCI DSS contains 12 requirements relating to the security protections organizations should establish to secure cardholder information. Let us highlight a few of these, and demonstrate how our solutions can help you meet the required standard.

“Build and maintain a secure network and systems.”

Our managed cyber security services can help you manage risk across your network effectively, in order to satisfy this key requirement of PCI DSS. From our advanced intrusion detection and prevention capabilities to our cutting-edge security operations center (SOC) service, we can establish, and fully manage the security infrastructure you need to defend your data, and minimize the cyber breach threat.

This requirement also requires devices, servers and networking components to be configured for maximum security, with default settings that permit maximum accessibility changed in favour of cyber secure alternatives. Our IT audit process will identify deficient security configurations on day-one, to bring your infrastructure into full compliance alignment at the very beginning.

“Protect Account Data”

This requirement involves the use of data protection techniques designed to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive cardholder data both in transit and at rest. Red Bigfoot can help you satisfy this requirement by applying encryption protocols to make cardholder data indecipherable to a would-be intruder. This is a particularly important security mechanism to protect cardholder information transiting across wireless networks, where we would be sure to implement a secure communication protocol like HTTPS. We can also implement further data protection techniques advocated by this requirement, including masking, truncation and data minimization, to further minimize risk.

“Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program”

Satisfying this requirement of PCI DSS involves deploying countermeasures against malware infiltration network-wide, and rigorously managing security updates (patches) across all software systems to minimize exploitable vulnerabilities. Our managed security offering will help you conquer this requirement with confidence. From endpoint protection that can actively remove malware from your devices, to continuous monitoring that scans your environment for anomalous activity and malware threat signatures, we can deploy the tools and manage the defenses necessary to neutralize malware across every potential entry point in your infrastructure. What’s more, with our IT support service that prioritizes proactivity, we’ll apply security updates in a timely manner to seal up vulnerabilities that might otherwise be exploited by malware threats.

“Maintain an Information Security Policy”

This requirement relates to organizational strategies that businesses must implement to securely manage sensitive cardholder data. Key stipulations include conducting regular risk assessments to determine the threats facing sensitive data, formulating and enforcing access control policies which restrict access to cardholder data in a risk-proportionate way, implementing security awareness training, and developing an actionable incident response plan.

Red Bigfoot can help you bring IT systems and security policies into perfect strategic alignment. We can offer advice on policy matters, to help your business achieve alignment with industry best practices. Our backup and incident recovery solutions will give you a credible plan of action for restoring access to sensitive information and preventing further harm. And our security awareness training and simulations program can help you equip your staff with the knowledge they need to keep important information out of harm’s way, and defend your business’s compliance interests.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act sets out standards applicable to electronic healthcare transactions, with the aim of enhancing the confidentiality, integrity and availability of electronic protected health information (ePHI).

The requirements of HIPPA are divided into three categories, each relating to a distinct set of requirements around how electronic protected health information should be handled, processed and stored. One of these rules, the ‘security rule,’ is particularly relevant from an IT perspective, so let’s examine it in more depth, and explain how our IT compliance solutions can help you meet its stipulations.

“§164.312(a) Standard: Access controls. Implement technical policies and procedures for electronic information systems that maintain electronic protected health information to allow access only to those persons or software programs that have been granted access rights as specified in §164.308(a)(4).”

In Short:

This requires organizations to apply access restrictions to ePHI which ensure that only authorized individuals with role-based needs are able to view protected information.

How We Help You Meet This Requirement:

We can roll out, configure, and manage an identity and access management system that empowers your organization to enforce role-based access controls (RBAC). We can also provide options for implementing multi-factor authentication to protect sensitive healthcare information against unauthorized intrusion.

“§164.312(b) Standard: Audit controls. Implement hardware, software, and/or procedural mechanisms that record and examine activity in information systems that contain or use electronic protected health information.”

In Short:

This requires that technical and procedural measures be in place to enable ePHI handling activities to be audited for security monitoring and compliance purposes.

How We Help You Meet This Requirement:

We’ll apply robust logging and auditing mechanisms to ensure access activity, alterations and security events relating to ePHI can be easily reviewed. We will use security event information to investigate suspicious activity and reinforce security infrastructure where necessary.

“§164.312(c)(1) Standard: Integrity. Implement policies and procedures to protect electronic protected health information from improper alteration or destruction.”

In Short:

This requirement emphasizes the importance of mechanisms which prevent ePHI being misused or deleted (either accidentally or maliciously). The objective of this requirement is to ensure that the integrity of ePHI is maintained, and that it remains accurate and reliable throughout its lifecycle.

How We Help You Meet This Requirement:

An IT compliance strategy can help you safeguard the integrity of sensitive data, including ePHI in a number of ways. For example, we can establish data validation mechanisms and checks within systems which handle ePHI to ensure discrepancies are quickly identified, and that data remains accurate and consistent throughout its processing.

We can also work with your organization to apply access and editing restrictions, to prevent unauthorized alteration or destruction of critical information. Encryption can also be leveraged to prevent malicious interception, of particular importance to protect data in transit and any data handled on portable devices that might be vulnerable to loss or theft.

Our data backup and recovery solutions also have a role to play in ensuring that ePHI can be restored following unsanctioned alteration or deletion. By working with you to identify protected categories of information, we’ll ensure that all the regulated data you hold falls within the scope of a robust, regularly tested data backup and recovery solution: a vital data integrity and availability safeguard.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act

The Sarbanes-Oxley act was passed in 2002 in an effort to improve corporate governance and financial record-keeping in the wake of a number of corporate scandals that garnered widespread attention.

While Sarbanes-Oxley doesn’t prescribe specific IT controls and practices, many of its provisions have significant implications for corporate IT strategies, particularly those that stress the importance of securing financial data, preventing unauthorized access, and maintaining the integrity of information systems that impact financial reporting.

The requirements of Sarbanes Oxley from an IT perspective are therefore implicit. In practice, here are some of the IT compliance requirements of the legislation, and how Red Bigfoot can help you achieve regulatory alignment.

 

IT Security and Incident Response

The Requirement:

The information systems that house and support financial reporting activities are expected to be protected by robust security infrastructure. Regulated companies are also expected to have documented incident response plans which can be quickly actioned to allow a swift recovery following a security breach.

How We Help You Meet This Requirement:

Our managed security services are designed to provide your organization with comprehensive, multi-layered protection designed to mitigate against a wide spectrum of cybersecurity risks. From intrusion detection and prevention that blocks threats at your network’s edge, to our Security Operations Centre solution that leverages global threat intelligence and dynamic security activity monitoring, we can develop a custom security strategy for your business that addresses the risks you face and meets your compliance needs.

Furthermore, we can help you craft an effective business continuity and disaster recovery strategy, that incorporates a fully-managed data backup service, and best-in-class failover mechanisms, to ensure you can swiftly overcome any setback or security incident. Our BCDR solutions are designed to maximize data availability, helping you demonstrate compliance with numerous regulations and compliance frameworks, including Sarbanes Oxley.

Access Controls

The Requirement:

Sarbanes Oxley requires that financial data and systems be guarded against unauthorized access or use using the appropriate application of access controls and authentication measures.

How We Help Your Meet This Requirement:

We can implement, configure and manage an identity and access management (IAM) solution that enables you to extend and withdraw access rights, and apply role-based access controls as necessary to protect regulated information and systems. Options for secure authentication will also be explored where necessary to help guard against credential hacking and unauthorized access, including multi-factor authentication and passwordless authentication where viable. Access activity logs will also be maintained and regularly reviewed to ensure that illicit login attempts and other dubious access activity can be thoroughly and swiftly investigated.

Change Management

The Requirement:

Alterations to financial systems and applications must be subject to rigorous controls, encompassing procedures, processes and documentation, designed to preclude the possibility of changes that could impact the accuracy and reliability of financial data.

How We Help You Meet This Requirement:

At Red Bigfoot it’s not just our managed services that are compliant by default, our IT project delivery is too. Whether you’re migrating to a new cloud-based service, investing in a network expansion, or upgrading your database, we’ll ensure every phase of your project is delivered with careful adherence to the regulations that apply to your business. At every stage we meticulously document each change, ensuring thorough record-keeping that facilitates full accountability. We also use testing protocols prior to deployment to ensure projects and changes don’t carry any unforeseen consequences. Or change management practices meet and exceed the standards set by leading regulations and standards, including Sarbanes Oxley.

Final Thoughts

 

From HIPAA and PCI DSS, to Sarbanes Oxley, GDPR and many more, we help Denver’s regulated businesses surmount their compliance challenges, and achieve secure, sustainable growth with tailored IT compliance strategies. For advice and guidance on all things compliance, or for more information on how a tailored IT compliance strategy could power the success of your business, get in touch with Red Bigfoot today. We’d Love to hear from you.

Red Bigfoot – Safeguarding the Success of Denver’s Regulated Businesses

Need managed IT services, support and solutions that propel your growth, while keeping the regulators satisfied? Need secure and scalable IT solutions that enable your expansion while keeping your data secure? We’re an established, full-service managed IT provider committed to helping Denver’s highly-regulated businesses thrive through the power of tailored, expertly managed IT. Whatever technology challenge you’re trying to overcome, we can help, with our personalized, friendly approach that puts your business’s needs and ambitions at the heart of the solution. Get in touch today, we can’t wait to hear from you.

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