Compliance management is the ongoing process of monitoring and assessing systems to ensure they comply with industry and security standards, as well as corporate and regulatory policies and requirements.
This involves infrastructure assessment to identify systems that are noncompliant due to regulatory, policy, or standards changes, misconfiguration, or any other reason.
Compliance management is important because noncompliance may result in fines, security breaches, loss of certification, or other damage to your business. Staying on top of compliance changes and updates prevents disruption of your business processes and saves money.
To successfully monitor and manage compliance for your business’s infrastructure, you’ll need to:
- Assess: Identify systems that are noncompliant, vulnerable, or unpatched.
- Organize: Prioritize remediation actions by effort, impact, and issue severity.
- Remediate: Quickly and easily patch and reconfigure systems that require action.
- Report: Validate that changes were applied and report change results.
A few things that can make compliance management difficult are:
- Changing security and compliance landscapes: Security threats and compliance changes evolve quickly, requiring rapid response to new threats and evolving regulations.
- Distributed environments across multiple platforms: As infrastructures become more distributed across on-site and cloud platforms, it becomes more difficult to get a complete view of your environment and any risks and vulnerabilities that might be present.
- Large environments and teams: Large, complex infrastructures and teams can complicate coordination across your environment and organization. In fact, system complexity can increase the cost of a data breach.
The best way to meet each of these challenges is with a multifaceted approach that will monitor all environments, identify any regulatory inconsistencies, address those inconsistencies and bring them up to date and into compliance, and keep a record of these updates.
These best practices can help you stay abreast of any regulatory changes and keep your systems compliant:
- Regular system scans: Daily monitoring can help you identify compliance issues, as well as security vulnerabilities, before they impact business operations or result in fees or delays.
- Deploy automation: As the size of your infrastructure grows and changes, it becomes more challenging to manage manually. Using automation can streamline common tasks, improve consistency, and ensure regular monitoring and reporting, which then frees you up to focus on other aspects of your business.
- Consistent patching and patch testing: Keeping systems up to date can boost security, reliability, performance, and compliance. Patches should be applied once a month to keep pace with important issues, and patching can be automated. Patches for critical bugs and defects should be applied as soon as possible. Be sure to test patched systems for acceptance before placing them back into production.
- Connect your tools: Distributed environments often contain different management tools for each platform. Integrate these tools via application programming interfaces (APIs). This allows you to use your preferred interfaces to perform tasks in other tools. Using a smaller number of interfaces streamlines operations and improves visibility into the security and compliance status of all systems in your environment.
Some tools that can help are:
- Proactive scanning: Automated scanning can ensure systems are monitored at regular intervals and alert you to issues without expending much staff time and effort.
- Actionable insight: Information that is tailored to your environment can help you more quickly identify which compliance issues and security vulnerabilities are present, which systems are affected, and what potential impacts you can expect.
- Customizable results: Define business context to reduce false positives, manage business risk and provide a more realistic view of your security and compliance status are ideal.
- Prescriptive, prioritized remediation: Prescriptive remediation instructions eliminate the need to research actions yourself, saving time and reducing the risk of mistakes. Prioritization of actions based on potential impact and systems affected help you make the most of limited patching windows.
- Intuitive reporting: Generating clear, intuitive reports about which systems are patched, which need patching, and which are noncompliant with security and regulatory policies increases auditability and helps you gain a better understanding of the status of your environment.
There's more to learn about compliance management and automation.
An automation strategy goes a long way to building capacity for checking systems for compliance without increasing time or cost. Manual compliance practices are more time-consuming, prone to human error, and harder to repeat or verify.
Selecting the right automation technologies is key for rapid implementation across the data center and network software systems in hybrid environments. It’s here that Red Hat shines, with a holistic, end-to-end software stack for automation and management that includes Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®, Red Hat Ansible® Automation, Red Hat Satellite, Red Hat Smart Management, and Red Hat Insights.