Cybersecurity is a complex set of practices that involves taking the right approach to online operations, internet-facing apps, hardware infrastructure, and data management. The entire system suffers if just one computer inside the network gets exposed.
That’s why cybersecurity practices include a comprehensive approach to protecting the network and all its elements from possible attacks.
While many companies pay significant attention to cybersecurity measures, others don’t have sufficient knowledge and resources to maintain them. That’s why certain industries set specific rules to ensure top practices. Otherwise, businesses may face penalties.
Many companies mistakenly view industry-specific cybersecurity compliance as a nuisance that requires time and money. In reality, staying compliant allows the company to protect its assets against cyber threats and gain a competitive edge over other businesses in the niche.
What is cybersecurity compliance?
Compliance is following a specific set of rules and regulations. Cybersecurity compliance is implementing specific cybersecurity measures that allow a business to work in a particular industry.
Security measures coupled with cybersecurity control and risk management allow the company to comply with industry cybersecurity requirements. A business must implement these measures to adhere to regulatory laws and industry-relevant rules.
Cybersecurity compliance allows you to set up continuous monitoring and assessment processes for the network, systems, and all related devices. This step helps adhere to the cybersecurity requirements of the industry.
The critical goal of cybersecurity compliance measures isn’t just to operate in the industry and avoid fines. It’s a way to protect sensitive data, prevent information breaches, avoid business disruption, and ensure the quality of the service for customers and clients.
The typical examples of compliance requirements are:
- HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) – a set of rules that ensure that companies in the healthcare industry that handle patient data keep it safe at all times.
- Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) – requirements that ensure clients’ payment information stays safe when a business accepts credit card payments through a point of service device (bar code scanner, electronic cash register, etc.).
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – a set of rules for companies working with European Union clients. They state that all personal data is subject to secure processing with appropriate technical measures.
- California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) – similar to GDPR, this act protects the privacy of California residents and requires all companies that have clients in California to ensure personal data protection.
- Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais (LGPD) – data protection laws that concern companies which work with Brazilian clients.
- Florida Information Protection Act (FIPA) – an act that lists cybersecurity requirements for companies that deal with personally identifiable information of people who live in the state of Florida.
If there are cybersecurity regulatory requirements in the industry, the majority of companies are likely to be required to adhere to them. For some businesses, a partial set of cybersecurity rules may apply. However, requirements regularly change and require constant monitoring.
A business needs to design a cybersecurity program to stay compliant. In most cases, the templates of these programs are readily available. However, the IT team needs to adjust the cybersecurity compliance program to suit the company’s needs without hindering operations, causing downtime, or breaking the bank.
Importance of Cybersecurity Compliance
It’s important to understand that cybersecurity regulations do not intentionally make it harder to stay compliant with industry rules. They make it safer for your business to function and prevent:
- Cyber security attacks (including phishing attacks and ransomware)
- Significant financial losses (some companies never recover from a cyber attack)
- Reputation problems (companies that lose their clients’ data have a slim chance of recovering their reputation)
- Business interruption (cyber attacks generally cause significant downtime)
- Legal proceedings that often accompany data loss and breaches.
Some business owners mistakenly believe that their company poses no interest to cyber criminals. In reality, even if you don’t deal with sensitive information, a cyber attacker could steal your data for ransom purposes or simply practice their skills.
Small companies usually don’t have enough resources to design an effective cybersecurity management plan. That makes them highly vulnerable to attacks.
First and foremost, staying compliant with cybersecurity requirements and related industry standards is beneficial for the company, not the regulatory bodies.
Top Practices to Help You Stay Compliant with Cybersecurity Requirements
When you work with client, patient, and customer information, you are responsible for its safety. While some industries don’t regulate cybersecurity management as well as others, you still need to monitor compliance requirements.
Cyber security compliance keeps up with security frameworks, industry regulations, and government policies. It’s up to each company to ensure this compliance to avoid cyber security threats and penalties.
Check Cybersecurity Requirements Regularly
To stay compliant, you must know what security standards to adhere to in your industry. While you may think you are following all the requirements, it’s easy to make a mistake. Since the technological environment is changing daily, regulatory bodies develop new rules while IT experts design new preventive measures.
While some larger businesses can easily change their operations and budget to suit the new cybersecurity management plans, SMBs can be surprised. That’s why it’s imperative to monitor the changes regularly to have sufficient time to adjust.
Keep in mind that if you already have top-notch cybersecurity measures in place, the new requirements will only affect you slightly. However, the expenses for such security plans are usually too high for many companies to handle.
Proactive cybersecurity compliance involves reviewing cybersecurity risks, researching the newest developments in the security industry, and staying ahead of the latest tactics designed by cybercriminals.
Appoint a CISO
While many companies ignore the need for Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) due to the strain on the budget, having such an expert on your team can simplify compliance significantly.
However, since the budgets for cybersecurity are constantly growing, not hiring a CISO could be more expensive than paying a large salary.
The CISO monitors the ever-changing regulatory environment, knows which policies to create according to the industry requirements, understands security architecture, and has experience with cybersecurity threats.
Implement Excellent Risk Assessment Measures
Risk assessment is an integral part of successful cybersecurity compliance. It helps you stay ahead of the game and prevent complex cyber attacks. By making vulnerability assessments regularly, you discover loopholes in your protective measures to avoid compliance issues.
The primary purpose of the risk assessment is to identify and prioritize organizational cyber security risks. The report of these assessments can help the management to make educated decisions about building an effective cybersecurity program, hiring external auditors, creating a dedicated compliance team, and more.
During the risk assessment aimed at improving your cybersecurity compliance, you need to answer the following questions:
- What sensitive data is the organization handling?
- What are the company’s most important data assets?
- What type of data breach can have the worst possible impact on the company?
- What are possible internal and external cybersecurity vulnerabilities?
- What are the risks the company is ready to take?
Answers to these questions can help you figure out what to protect and which elements of your cybersecurity plan may need changing. This step contributes to a more robust cybersecurity program and enables you to streamline regulatory compliance.
Design Cybersecurity Measures
Cybersecurity compliance standards help your company set up a security plan that keeps information safe. Staying compliant with data protection laws and related regulations doesn’t just mean passing audits. It involves extra work related to establishing cybersecurity measures and controls.
It is important to address each cybersecurity risk separately and create a tool for preventing it to stay compliant and improve your company’s bottom line
Measures that can handle the risk include:
- Data encryption
- Network firewalls
- Password security policy
- Control of network access
- Cyber threat response plan
- Employee training
Depending on your industry’s cybersecurity compliance standards, you can focus on some controls more than on others. However, your overall cybersecurity plan must be strong enough to handle all possible cyber threats.
Create a Compliance Monitoring Plan
After completing the risk assessment and implementing cybersecurity measures, you must create a compliance monitoring plan. This plan can help you ensure that your company is up to date with the necessary compliance obligations.
- Schedule regular audits
- Address discovered risks
- Identify responsible parties
- Hire a cybersecurity company
Make sure your entire team knows about this plan and acts accordingly. You may need to notify the regulating body if you discover any serious issues.
By implementing cybersecurity compliance measures, you aren’t just cementing your right to function in a specific industry. You are improving your company’s chances of gaining a competitive edge.
If you follow the critical cybersecurity standards and throw proactive risk management into the mix, your company can increase revenue and withstand the constantly-evolving security threats.