Leading state and federal officials attend a ribbon-cutting event at the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence a few years ago at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology in Rockville, Md. Today’s columnist, Josh Grove of TalaTek, focuses on security compliance and talks about many compliance efforts revolve around the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

How do we get our brains around the arcane topic of policy compliance? Security pros define compliance as adhering to established rules and regulations, codes of conduct, laws, or organizational standards of conduct. For the cybersecurity industry, this means following guidelines established to protect the security and privacy of an organization’s information system or enterprise. Policy compliance, an essential element of cybersecurity, cannot function as a one-size-fits-all proposition. Organizations should tailor it according to their policy, regulatory frameworks, configuration, and devices.

Think of policy compliance as an important component of an organization’s integrated risk and vulnerability assessment program. It consists of regularly checking network, application, desktop, and server settings against a specific organizational policy or benchmark. It helps organizations find areas of misconfiguration and misalignment from established benchmarks so they can configure systems exactly in accordance with the chosen organizational policy—for example, checking the number of allowed log-in attempts before locking a user’s account.

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