In its most basic form, the term compliance refers to adhering to the policies that were created by any entity to meet the objectives of that entity. In government and businesses, they are a set of rules that all parties involved, have to stick to. Coming to Microsoft Compliance Program, it too refers to the policies of the company – giving it rights to check whether its employees and customers are following the rules (of relevant contracts). The program also takes appropriate actions on employees, departments, and customers who misuse or break one or more policies. Let’s see what Microsoft Compliance Program is, for example, in the next section.
What is the Microsoft Compliance Program
In a sentence, compliance can be explained as the standards of a company that has to be adhered to while working on its processes.
The first thing to be kept in mind is that whether it is a business or an individual, the entity has to work in accordance with the laws of the land. If it is a multinational corporation, its rules will change according to the law of the country where the office is set up. So there is no “one rule applies all” when it comes to multinationals like Microsoft.
Second, each company wants to maintain order in its functioning. To this end, the companies create a rule book for every department of the company and then for the employees in general.
Microsoft also has a set of rules for its end users so that they do not misuse the products and services. For example, when you purchase a service or product, you have to agree to certain rules and regulations that are most commonly phrased as “terms and conditions”. While most of us simply ignore what is written in the “Terms and Conditions” and “accept” them directly to save on time, there may be clauses you might need to know.
For example, if a company purchased a license to run Windows 10 on 10 computers, it has to run it on 10 computers only. If the company becomes a bit greedy and uses, say 12 computers, it will be illegal. It happens that people don’t read ToC (terms and conditions) and hence miss out on things like these, and Microsoft may conduct Compliance Checks from time to time to ensure that the user sticks to the conditions.
In almost all clauses in the case of bulk licensing, there is always a clause that Microsoft can continue compliance checks for a few years from the date of purchase of those licenses. Thus, even after four years if you move to some other operating system from any other company, Microsoft still has right to come over and check if you have been true to your word. You may go to court and get a legal injunction on such checks if the time gap is huge, but there is no point unless there is something you wish to hide.
This is just an example of what the Microsoft Compliance program is. I hope you get the basic idea of compliance when it comes to Microsoft or any other multinational entity.
The compliance program helps Microsoft in:
- Maintaining integrity,
- Getting things done on time,
- Fixing responsibilities
- Preventing misuse of services or products
- Avoiding piracy
Setting up standards at Microsoft
There is a special team at Microsoft that drafts policies to be followed in the US and abroad. This team, the OLC, is responsible for understanding the laws of the different countries and then creating policies that benefit both the company and users. The policies created by OLC need to be approved by the board of directors before they can be implemented. Once in implementation, the board and its assistants make sure that there are no violations. If they find any anomaly, there are penalties in order – created by OLC and approved by the directors.
Violation of Microsoft Compliance Program
If any violation happens while adhering to Microsoft Compliance Program, appropriate action is taken. For example, if an employee is found to be ignoring the standards that need to adhere to while working, the person can face a penalty in form of transfer, suspension or even termination of the employment. IF a company is found to be using pirated Microsoft software, then Microsoft may decide to go after that company.
For end-users, the local law is brought into use. Using the above licensing example, if the owner of the business refuses to allow Microsoft people inside his office for compliance checks (and the contract allows Microsoft to check the computers at that place), Microsoft can get the help of the local court and police. Then the necessary penalties are imposed if the owner is found to be engaged in foul play while dealing with bulk licensing.
Incidentally, this tool Microsoft Security Compliance Manager from Microsoft has nothing to do with policy adherence. It is actually software that helps you view and alter security settings in servers.
What standards is Microsoft in compliance with?
As a company, Microsoft has to pass through some stringent security compliances that include ISO 27001, ISO 27018, SOC 1, SOC 2, SOC3, FedRAMP, HITRUST, MTCS, IRAP, and ENS. The company also offers third-party reports and independent auditor reports on demand.
What is the Microsoft compliance score?
According to Microsoft Documents, as a company, your compliance score is a measure of recommended actions that an organization completes to reduce risks around data protection and regulatory standards. While it’s a good thing, it is not a guarantee of anything but some of the best practices one needs to follow.