Compliance management is mandatory — but it doesn’t have to be painful. You’ve likely dedicated a large portion of your team’s time and energy to meet compliance regulations, respond to incidents, and pass audits. We’ll explore a new way to think about your compliance management program, using automation to help with the day-to-day work involved in compliance.

What is Compliance Management?

Compliance management describes the way that an organization complies with laws, internal policies, and regulations to protect themselves against risk.

When we use the word “risk” here, we’re talking about three different kinds of risk that can happen when your organization is non-compliant:

  • Legal Risk — the fines, penalties, and other legal trouble caused by failing to achieve compliance with current standards.
  • Reputational Risk — potential damage to an organization’s reputation for noncompliance and security risk.
  • Personal Risk — the risk to employee and/or customer data or information if compliance, and security standards set by compliance, is not maintained.

To prevent risk, you need a strong compliance management program. This encompasses tasks like developing policy and procedure around compliance, setting those policies in place, and continuously monitoring compliance to make sure your plan is working.

The cycle of compliance, from developing a program to keeping up with the latest regulations, can move as fast as technology changes. How much time (and money) have you already spent passing audits and adapting to regulatory compliance? Have you identified the weak spots in your compliance management program, like a lack of visibility and tool sprawl?

Staying continuously compliant with self-enforcing policy as code can offer one way of tackling your compliance management program and solving some of these manual hiccups. With that in mind, here are a few key terms you’ll want to explore as you learn more about managing compliance:

Continuous Compliance Management

Continuous compliance describes the process of turning policy into code to continually enforce regulatory or security standards. It’s a simple way to get proactive about your policy and make passing audits easier — if your code is running, you know that your policy is being enforced.

Continuous compliance can make sure your environment sticks and stays where you want it to be with self-enforcement. This reduces the risk of configuration drift, which might lead to security problems down the road.

Streamlining your compliance management program with policy as code can help you make changes even faster if (and when) your policy needs to change.

Learn more about continuous compliance management with a use case >>

What is IT Compliance Management?

How does IT compliance differ from security compliance, or the way that continuous compliance is enforced? While there will be overlap between IT and security compliance, the differences boil down to organizational goals, enforcement, and the risks that they address.

IT security compliance focuses on protecting the organizational data (customer and internal), while IT compliance would plan to meet regulatory requirements per third-party standards.

It’s an important starting point for any compliance management program to make distinctions between which areas of compliance specific teams will address.

What is IT compliance management? Start building your management plan >>

Managing Compliance as Code

Compliance as code falls along the same lines as policy as code — both describe ways to convert existing rules into enforceable code within your environment.

Transforming your compliance requirements into code can make sure that compliance checks happen automatically during each step of software delivery, and that you don’t experience configuration drift (AKA fall out of compliance) with changes, patches, updates, etc.

As your company scales or diversifies infrastructure, compliance as code can enforce hundreds of requirements, no matter how complex or large.

Read up on how compliance as code can streamline compliance from end to end >>

Why You Need Compliance Management

As you’ve explored what compliance management can do with specific tasks like turning compliance into code, the next natural question is “why?” Why change up current process, introduce new code, and potentially complicate what you currently have in place?

The short answer is that improved and automated compliance management can help you pass audits, improve your risk management and security posture, meet strict compliance regulations, and keep up with those regulations when they change.

Dig further into why you need continuous compliance and risk management >>

Security vs. Compliance

Following compliance regulations can help to keep your organization secure, but are security and compliance two different things? While compliance is specific to the legal standards that are created to enforce rules, these rules don’t always deal directly with security concerns.

Security refers to the internal rules that a company uses to keep their own people and assets safe, which can overlap with compliance regulations.

Compliance as code can also expand to include your security policies, also known as policy as code. A strong compliance management plan will thoughtfully include security policies as part of the larger goal: to keep people and information safe and to stay legally compliant.

See real-world examples to learn the difference between security vs. compliance >>

Automated IT Security Policy

Where does automation fit into a compliance management program, or even with your internal security concerns?

When compliance is running as code in your infrastructure, your IT team doesn’t have to manually respond to security threats or new compliance regulations — the policies set in place are running automatically. This proactive approach can help harden your systems and reduce risk overall.

If compliance as code is set into place, compliance is enforced. If compliance is enforced, your environment can ensure consistency and security.

Learn how automation helps you harden your systems & achieve compliance >>

Passing Compliance Audits

Audit-related work eats up valuable time and can be costly. Staying compliant to changing regulations requires dedicated hours of work and resources as new regulations are enforced — but as with system hardening, automation can help here as well.

Turning compliance requirements into repeatable, scalable code can make your organization proactive before your next audit. With a tool like Puppet Comply, you can stay informed on your compliance status and receive alerts if anything changes before the audit even happens.

Why worry about whether you will pass an audit, when automation can help you prepare and show you how compliant your systems currently are?

Watch a webinar for the top 5 actions to help pass compliance audits with automation >>

The DevOps Path to Continuous Compliance

We’ve explored the differences between compliance and security, and touched on the ways that automation can help pass audits. But how can automation specifically help both security and compliance?

Improving your DevOps practices as part of a larger compliance and security management plan can keep you ahead of fresh security threats and new regulations. Continuous compliance and security have areas of overlap, so it’s important to develop ways to address both.

Download a white paper about the path to continuous compliance and better security >>

Case Study: Cyber Security Requirements

If you’re searching for information about compliance management, chances are high that you work in a regulated industry where compliance is business critical – like government, finance, or healthcare. One U.S. government agency used Puppet for compliance management – and it helped bring them from 30% to 98% DISA STIG compliance automatically.

Watch a video case study about Puppet automation for DISA STIG compliance >>

How to Enforce Compliance Management

Now that you’ve explored why you need compliance management, and how compliance ties in with security, let’s learn how to enforce compliance and get started.

As a primer to understanding compliance modules and using them across varied infrastructure environments, you need a ground-up view of modules related to compliance.

Start here — read our blog about how to enforce compliance with Puppet modules >>

Managing Compliance

Keeping up with changing regulations, no matter what standards you’re adhering to, is an endless task. Task-based automation can help you fix configuration drift when it happens, but it’s largely reactive.

Reactive processes don’t help you prevent drift that leads to noncompliance before it happens. So how do you break out of the scan/fix/drift cycle when there is constant change? Take a different approach to automation with model-driven or declarative automation for compliance.

Break the drift cycle and learn how to manage compliance >>

Automating Your Way to a Stronger Compliance Management System

Compliance management is critical, comprehensive, and it takes up a lot of your team’s time. Automation should be a part of any compliance management system as a solid way to reduce toil and human error.

On the Puppet podcast, hear from a cloud security and compliance engineer about automation for compliance enforcement.

Listen to the Puppet team talk through automating your way to compliance >>

How to Achieve DoD Compliance

Looking for specific tips on compliance for different regulatory standards? Look no further for information about how to stay compliant with the US Department of Defense (DoD) requirements, including DISA STIGs.

These critical requirements will help you create trusted security and harden your compliance posture. We can help you stay on top of everything without feeling as if you are chasing after an ever-moving goal.

Read how to stay proactive, not reactive, with the latest DoD compliance requirements >>

How to Enforce CIS Compliance

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) compliance standards and CIS Benchmarks set an important precedent for all companies to prevent hefty fines and minimize data breach risk.

Puppet Compliance Enforcement can make sure that achieving and maintaining CIS compliance is as simple as checking off a task.

Learn how to stay in CIS compliance >>

Enabling CMMC Compliance

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a cybersecurity framework for DIB companies and DoD contractors. CMMC is developed by the U.S. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment applies to companies working in and with government.

CMMC compliance is a hefty framework, but there are tools to help make it happen to ensure that your organization is easily auditable and compliant.

Learn about the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification standard >>

Try Puppet for Compliance Management

No matter which regulations you need to follow or what kind of infrastructure environment you have, Puppet streamlines compliance with powerful policy as code.

Puppet’s enterprise-grade compliance solutions will help you find and prevent compliance failures to save your team time and effort. From quickly standing up and maintaining compliant IT infrastructure to preventing drift, every aspect of compliance management is covered by Puppet Comply.

💪 Start building stronger, continuous compliance: