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Compliance – even the word can send shivers down your spine. The primary reason you need compliance is because it’s the law. But there’s more to it than that.

Compliance ensures your safety from the rules and regulations created by regulatory agencies. It also protects employees and customers by ensuring that you operate a legal and ethical business that complies with all the laws imposed at every level, from local to federal.

Cannabis still is not legal in the eyes of federal law. States continue to morph and change as new states come on board. But in some ways, this makes compliance practices even more necessary. Crafting compliance guidelines within your business will make you stand out from your competition.

If you want to attract top-notch employees, compliance can be the hook. Companies that set the standard for a well-run business will shine over the rest. And that’s just the start.

It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re at. That changes every business decision you make, every change you make within your business. That’s why regular IT audits are so important. They identify potential vulnerabilities and give you a starting point for more control.

Start By Identifying Potential Vulnerabilities

We all have systems we piecemeal together over time. These can leave you vulnerable, especially in a well-regulated industry. Start where you are today. Where are your problem areas? Where can you make changes to move towards greater security?

  • System assessments – identify outdated or unsupported systems that might pose security risks. Evaluate network infrastructure, including firewalls, routers, and switches, to ensure they are properly configured and secured.
  • Data protection – review sensitive data to ensure it’s adequately encrypted both in transit and at rest. Assess data backup and disaster recovery plans are working to ensure data can be restored in case of breach or system failure.
  • Access controls – evaluate the strength of authentication methods and user permissions.
  • Compliance – ensure accurate and comprehensive record keeping required by regulatory agencies. Check to see that all IT practices meet current guidelines.

Check To Ensure You’re Mitigating Risks

Once you know where your vulnerabilities are, you can start making changes. Don’t think it’s all or nothing – even one step adds up over time. Digging deeper, it’s important to discover how you’re mitigating risks. Are you taking the necessary precautions to be able to overcome potential problems? Because they will come – it’s not if, but when.

  • Security policies and procedures – policy reviews ensure security policies and procedures are up-to-date and effective given the current threats. It also evaluates incident response plans to ensure the business can effectively respond to potential problems.
  • Employee training – policies only work if you have a staff available to implement them. Are employee training programs effective for IT security and compliance? Ensure they are aware of best practices and potential threats, and include real-time awareness tests for phishing and other threats to improve employee vigilance.
  • Third-party vendor management – you’re responsible for the security practices of third-party vendors with access to the business’s systems or data, and must ensure they comply with regulatory requirements. Do you have security standards in place?

Reporting and Continuous Improvement

Audits are your starting point. They provide you with a clear path for moving forward. From scheduling to running IT audits, they should help guide you down the path.

  • Audit reporting – provides detailed reports on findings, and highlights areas of non-compliance and potential vulnerabilities. It provides actionable recommendations for improving your overall security culture.
  • Continuous improvement – with detailed reports in hand, you can continuously monitor and improve IT security practices. It helps you stay ahead of evolving threats. It also provides feedback to help update policies, procedures, training programs, and other essential elements in your business practices.

Non-compliance can be expensive. It can impact you at every level, from issuing stiff fines to shutting the business down. But it doesn’t have to end that way. No matter where you stand today, there is a better way. Comprehensive IT audits are your starting point. Get started today.

For IT Strategy, Security and Compliance, or Help Desk Services, reach out to us at Cannabis Technology Partners 360-450-4759.