Keeping students safe is no easy task. There is traditional bullying and cyberbullying. There are malware threats. Even a short-lived IT security failure may trigger students and parents to get worried. That’s why your IT compliance procedures are so necessary. These procedures help you pay attention to the critical details that make security failures unlikely. In remote education, these procedures are even more vital because you are relying on technology to deliver education.
Why Do IT Compliance Procedures Matter?
A successful IT security program in a college requires multiple elements. You need an easy to use tool to make password resets available 24/7. You need policies and training offerings. However, IT compliance procedures also matter. These procedures translate the broad principles of IT security into your specific school’s context. By consistently applying your IT compliance procedures, you will be able to detect problems early and keep students safe.
Updating Your IT Compliance Procedures For Remote Education in 6 Steps
Few people wake up in the morning excited to revise IT procedures. We get it! It is important to work through this process nonetheless, so let’s make it easy by following these steps.
1. Evaluate Your School’s Remote Education Approach
Some schools are implementing a large-scale approach to remote education. On the other hand, your school may only offer a few classes in a remote format. Reach out to teachers and administrators to get up-to-date information on the state of remote education. Use this IT compliance procedure update process if 10% or more of your students will be in remote education in the coming year.
2. Identify Your Mission-Critical Technology Tools
IT compliance procedures also need to reflect the specific tools and technologies your school uses. Develop an inventory of the mission-critical apps and tools so you can protect all of these effectively. Start developing your list by looking for tools that connect teachers and students, such as video conferencing apps like Zoom and platforms like Blackboard. Next, add critical administrative tools to the list your school uses to manage student records like grades.
After you develop the list, ask a few other people for input on it. It is entirely possible that you missed a few apps.
3. Conduct A Gap Analysis On Your Current IT Compliance Procedures
In this step, compare your current IT compliance procedures with the tools you identified in the previous step. Let’s take Zoom as an example. Check whether your technology procedures describe ways to improve security with this tool, such as using session-specific passwords. Repeat this analysis on all of the critical tools you have found.
Through this analysis, you will find several types of gaps. First, you will find out-of-date procedures that require updates. Second, you will also find that some procedures are entirely missing in the case of new tools.
4. Prioritize IT Compliance Procedure Updates
Based on the previous step, you will have an analysis showing you where gaps and shortcomings exist in your IT compliance procedures. You may not have time to update every single procedure thoroughly. That’s understandable. In this case, focus your update process on high-risk, high-usage procedures and technologies. That means it would be best to focus your efforts on technologies students rely on for remote education rather than administrative systems that are only used a few times each semester.
5. Test Your New IT Compliance Procedures
IT compliance procedures need to be simple and easy to understand if they are going to be useful. For each new procedure you create, ask a few people on your technology team to test it. Make further refinements to the document based on the feedback you receive. Now you have IT compliance procedures ready for use.
6. Set Up An IT Compliance Testing Schedule
For the best results, separate initial configuration and setup from IT compliance reviews. This is possible even if you only have a small department. Ask one IT analyst to focus on responding to user requests for new accounts and related identity and access management responsibilities. Ask a different IT analyst to carry out IT compliance procedure testing. To illustrate the concept, take a look at this testing schedule.
Example IT Compliance Procedure Testing Process
● Frequency: Once a month. If you do not find any problems after a few months, you can switch to a different frequency like quarterly.
● Scope: Focus on the top three most important technologies and apps used by your school, such as your primary video conferencing tool, the student information system, and the school’s finance system.
● Testing Process: Choose a sample of user accounts and apps to review each month. During the review, examine how each user account is set up for access. For example, check whether you see an excessive number of privileged user accounts. For apps, check to see if the app meets your security requirements, such as requiring strong passwords or integrating with your single sign-on software solution.
● Reporting: Summarize your observations in a report. Point out examples where systems and users are at variance from the IT compliance procedures. It will then be up to management to decide whether to grant exceptions to the requirements or not.
What If IT Compliance Procedures Take Too Much Time?
Carrying out comprehensive testing on dozens of technology tools every week may be too much work for your department. In that situation, you have a few choices. You can continue with a manual approach and recognize that you are probably going to miss security gaps, but the better approach is to leverage software to ease the burden.For IT compliance optimization, use Compliance Auditor. It serves as your single book of record for tracking compliance issues. Further, you can carry out IT compliance reviews through a mobile device. That’s an excellent option to keep in mind if you want to complete a few compliance checks on the fly. You can also make IT compliance easier to manage by standardizing user account profiles with Group Requestor. Standardizing user accounts means you will have fewer variations to monitor.