In general, compliance means following rules made by an authority body. In practice, it means creating a program that has security controls in place to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data.
Your business and customer data is valuable to cybercriminals who may use it for malicious reasons or personal gain. They could be acting on behalf of the state or an aggressive competitor interested in your trade secrets, technical data or internal communications. Or they may be motivated by money, which they make by selling your customers’ data on the dark web or holding it for ransom.
Why is Regulatory Compliance Important?
The risk of non-compliance with cybersecurity regulations is too big to take lightly. PCI DDS breaches cost companies a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $100,000 per month in fines. Fines per HIPAA violation range from $100 to $50,000. If you do business in California, the state’s data privacy law – California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) – will apply to you provided you handle more than 50,000 consumers’ data or have an annual gross revenue of at least $25 million. Under the law, you could be fined up to $7,500 for sharing or processing certain types of employee information without their consent.
Harsh punitive action apart, the bad publicity that accompanies data breaches can create a trust deficit among customers and make your competitors suddenly look a lot more attractive than you. Intentional or unintentional exposure of your employees’ information due to ineffective controls or training may also cause them distress.
What Goes Into Maintaining a Strong Compliance Posture?
You’d have to create strong defensive measures for all the places where your data lives, such as systems, networks, smart devices, routers and the cloud. Here’s where industry standards and government regulations on cybersecurity come in. While there are many, not all may apply to your industry. So, the first step in creating a strong compliance posture is to identify the cybersecurity regulations you need to comply with and the cybersecurity frameworks you can adopt to reduce your cybersecurity risk.
You’ll then have to appoint a person to manage your cybersecurity program and stay updated with compliance requirements. Large organizations have Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), but in a medium-sized or small company, the IT Manager, CTO or COO performs this role, usually in consultation with a cybersecurity company.
The individual is in charge of assessing risks and vulnerabilities, and implementing technical controls based on applicable cybersecurity regulations or a cybersecurity framework (e.g NIST, ISO/IEC 27001 or PCI DSS) with added technical controls to meet those regulations. They will also be responsible for implementing, in collaboration with other leaders, non-technical controls such as cybersecurity policies, procedures, audits and training, which are equally important to compliance.
Cybersecurity requirements change. New threats emerge. The controls you have now may not stack up against new laws and evolving threats. Regularly assessing your security controls is necessary to identify security gaps due to any new risks that have emerged and enforce changes required to continue maintaining a robust compliance posture. If things appear complicated, a cybersecurity company or attorney specializing in cybersecurity compliance will prove to be a valuable ally by providing clarity on laws and recommendations on risk management.