man holding documents for the compliance audit

How to Prepare Your Organization for a Compliance Audit

Regardless of industry, any organization is bound to undergo compliance audits, and many consider it a necessary evil.

The penalties are costly when violations are discovered and, if your company is not in compliance with certain regulations, your reputation is at stake. And, though they do forewarn you, the inspection can take place at any time within the survey window. So, it is paramount that you follow these steps to prepare for an audit.

Audit yourself

A huge part of why organizations tremble at the mere mention of the word “audit” is the fear of not knowing how they will fare in it. To get a good grasp of how your company will do in a compliance audit, you have to conduct one in-house.

Assign an internal team to do it or better, hire an independent auditor, especially if you do not have enough internal resources. Have them comb through the company department by department and report any weak points that need to be improved.

Create an action plan based on the results of your internal audit. To make sure that your company stays compliant all the time, audit yourself again after making the necessary improvements, and make this a regular cycle.

Identify, monitor and record access

Identify users who access shared credentials. Before someone can log onto a server or network, and even when using a shared account, such as “root” or “administrator”, you should require individual user credentials in a secondary identification window. Doing this ensures that every action can be attributed to individual users, making them easier to monitor.

Monitor all user activity, including business users, privileged users, and vendors on any server or workstation. Visual recordings, in particular, makes monitoring and auditing a lot easier, no matter what resources or applications an individual user has accessed.

A visual recording is foolproof evidence of who did what, and how. For your company’s website and social media accounts, a comprehensive web archiving software can record your website data and social media content for compliance and litigation.

Keep yourself up-to-date

Keep your ear to the ground for any security events within the industry. For instance, if one of your competitors suffers a security incident, you should promptly analyze your own internal systems, and make sure to safeguard all access into your network. Problems at another company within your industry tend to prompt compliance auditors to also investigate your business for similar security issues.

Keep an eye out for new regulations. The technology and security landscape is always changing, so you need to stay updated to anticipate the enforcement priorities among regulatory agencies. Make sure that your regular internal audit reflects the new regulations.

Train users on security policies

lock as symbol for Privacy and General Data Protection Regulation on a notebook computer

All users, whether remote or on-site, should be informed of, and agree to security policies and procedures regarding the handling of confidential information. Train them on how to back-up, recover, archive, and destroy data when needed. You also have to run them through Internet safety concerns that are related to your business, such as spear-phishing emails.

The key to preparing for a compliance audit is to stay prepared. Whether or not something happened in your industry or your company that warrants an audit, you have to be consistently compliant to save your business from costly violations and, worse, irreversible humiliation.