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Ensuring cyber
security compliance
with a sustainable
framework

Author: Gary Hilson

Cyber security compliance is a process not a reaction to an event. If you want your organization to pass security assessments and audits to meet industry and regulatory mandates, you need a framework that enables you to achieve and maintain compliance in the face of an ever-changing threat environment.

No matter what hardware or software you choose to run your business, compliance in an era of constantly evolving security threats and stringent privacy legislation presents operations and legal concerns you can't ignore.

It's essential that you have a framework in place to help efficiently perform regular security audits and assessments so you can gather insight and adjust your security posture accordingly.

Cyber security compliance can make for a better bottom line

There are many reasons why security compliance is important, regardless of your industry.

Creating a security posture based on what your organization wants to achieve may help to create cost savings in the long run as not only is recovery from a data breach time-consuming and expensive, but you might also be on the hook for fines and have to pay a penalty if you're in breach of government regulations.

Compliance failures can also cost you money in the form of lost business, either because a customer no longer trusts you and takes their business elsewhere or because potential customers don't think you're trustworthy enough to handle their data. Achieving and maintaining compliance is ultimately good for your bottom line; demonstrating better data management not only helps maintain your reputation and your customers' trust, but also non-compliance could cost more because of the potential for resulting legal fees, fines and penalties, and reduced productivity.

Organizations with a culture of cyber security compliance may perform better overall because enhanced data management, in general, can lead to being able to make more informed decisions that benefit customers and the business. You're also able to make decisions faster and more consistently because there are policies in place to help guide you to the right decision rather than the response varying depending on the people involved.

Learn cyber security compliance rules

If your business is to excel at cyber security compliance, it's critical you understand what regulations and legislation apply to you. From there, you can build an efficient framework that maps to those obligations.

Because compliance is a process, it needs to be managed, and your goal should be to implement a program that clarifies all requirements and obligations, as well as the data you must collect and report, and how often.

Your first step should be to confirm the industry regulatory frameworks you must answer to. Some of them may be imposed by the government at the international, federal, or state level, while others are dictated by industry and standards bodies. Depending on the nature of your business, here are examples of regulations and standards that might influence your security compliance:

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): This federal privacy legislation safeguards protected health information (PHI), so it has an impact on the compliance of healthcare organizations, including hospitals and labs that handle patient information.
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): Although this legislation was drafted and implemented by the European Union, its jurisdiction is broad and may apply to any organization worldwide that processes the personal data of European data subjects. Other examples of privacy legislation are the California Consumer Privacy Act and Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which may or may not impact your business depending on where it operates.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF): This set of cyber security best practices and recommendation provides guidelines to help you better understand threats to your security and bolster your defenses.
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS): This is an information security standard for organizations that process credit cards from major card issuers.  For instance, any organization that handles consumer transactions via a point of sale (PoS) terminal or e-commerce site will need to comply with the standard, including retailers and hospitality organizations.

The good news is that many of these standards and others overlap when it comes to the foundational requirements and best practices. However, there's also a good chance that more than one of them applies to you, which means implementing a program to be security compliant may seem overwhelming at first.

Know where you stand to move forward

You can't manage what you don't measure, so cyber security compliance must always begin with a cyber risk assessment. More importantly, it can't be treated as a one-and-done activity.

Your compliance activities should be framed and prioritized in a manner that's sustainable and allows for continuous improvement. There are many ways that can help evaluate the current health of your overall security, for instance working with managed security services partners and governance, risk and compliance (GRC) experts. Getting an objective assessment of your cyber security controls against the regulatory frameworks and legislation that your business must adhere to can help you fill any gaps and help reduce your compliance costs.

Understanding your cyber security maturity level can help enable you to fill any gaps that put your compliance at risk and helps you establish a security program against your required industry security framework or regulatory requirement. This might include certifications that reflect your adherence to standards such as PCI DSS that will enhance trust with new and existing customers and benefit your bottom line.

With a strong framework to guide regular cyber security compliance audits and assessments, you can more efficiently gather insight and modify your security posture accordingly while nimbly adjusting to any security compliance change requirements.

Learn how Verizon's managed security services can help you reduce risk and maintain cyber security compliance.