How to Keep Your Business Safe with Security Compliance?

Since data is now stored digitally by companies, the possibility of data breaches is becoming more and more imminent. The aftermath of data breach may be catastrophic, including financial losses, damage to the brand reputation, and legal responsibilities.

Businesses should comply with the security regulations to be able to protect them and their customers.

This blog post will be about the role of security compliance and give practical advice on how to attain it. 

What is Security Compliance?

Compliance means to take the actions that will make an organization follow the rules that are established by a third party, such as ISO, NIST or federal laws, like the Sarbanes Oxley Act. 

Why Security Compliance is Vital?

IT security compliance is one of the main factors that affect an organization’s capability to safeguard data, guard against financial penalties, build trust among customers, and develop a security culture. 

The report from the IBM Security’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022 states that compliance serves as a major component in the cost of data breaches. Compliance failures that resulted in companies having high levels of data breach cost an average of USD 2. 26 million more than organizations which were not in compliance. The average cost of data breaches where compliance failure was at high levels was USD 5. 57 million. 

For instance, such leaks of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Protected Health Information (PHI), or financial data can lead to the ruin of companies’ reputation and result in financial losses. Compliance with regulatory standards and data security (CIA) should be the top consideration for organizations. 

How to Reach IT Security Compliance?

1. Conduct Risk Analysis

Risk analysis should be the first step in the compliance process and should therefore be high on the agenda. Risk analysis is a continuous process which makes it possible to find the weak points in a compliance posture and provides an understanding of the existing security processes. The process includes:

  • Risk assessment by evaluating all information assets, systems, networks, and data. 
  • Examine each data type level and then pinpoint how risk information is stored, collected, and analyzed. 
  • Analyzing the risk using the following formula: Risk = ((Likelihood of Breach x Impact) / Cost).
  • Making a decision about whether to reject or accept, transfer, or reduce the risk. 
  • Implementing policies to support documentation of compliance activities and monitoring.
  • These are the policies that are necessary for the audits both internal and external. 

2. Develop Policies and Procedures

Based on the security risk analysis outcome, the existing policies and procedures for protecting data must be updated. Document every security-related operation. Regulators and assessors expect organizations to share documents on demand. Therefore, IT admins must capture everything—from processes to security logs to historical data—which can be provided as evidence when needed.

3. Implementation

After the policies and procedures have been identified, planned out, and documented, they need to be implemented. This includes the following:

  • Updating existing software and operating systems
  • Purchasing security software and necessary tools
  • Conducting mandatory training and awareness programs for the entire organization

4. Monitor and Respond

Organizations can fall out of compliance if they do not regularly monitor their controls and actions. IT teams must establish a process of monitoring security systems with updates, security patches, vulnerability checks, and third-party assessments.

Teams should deploy a system that identifies security issues and delivers proactive alerts in case of any gaps. Some regulations may require companies to monitor suppliers and partners for security issues.

5. Validation

To prove that the organization is compliant with industry regulations, invite a third-party data security firm to validate the newly established security protocols, procedures, and the implementation of those policies and procedures. This process incurs additional costs but will help maintain data security and trust.

An SSAE18 SOC 2 Type II security protocol can cover a large spectrum of industry-regulated data security requirements, including:

  • HIPAA
  • GLBA
  • SOX
  • FERPA
  • FISM
  • NIST

Benefits of IT Security Compliance

Organizations that establish systems that protect the security and privacy of customer data will incur costs, but there are also significant benefits to IT security compliance. Besides maintaining industry-specific certification and avoiding costly data breaches, IT security compliance has several benefits that help businesses.

a. Avoids Fines and Penalties

There are existing compliance laws that apply to specific industries. Lawmakers in Northern America, Europe, and worldwide are imposing legislation protecting customer data’s security and privacy. Violating the laws can lead to severe penalties, but appropriate security compliance measures can prevent such issues by securing the data companies collect.

b. Protects Business Reputation

Data security has improved significantly. However, data breaches are still a common occurrence. For instance, in one of the first data breaches in 2022, malicious actors gained access to important company data from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The data breach led to the theft of sensitive data of over half a million people. The data breach included people’s names, locations, and contact information. Such data breaches harm a company’s reputation and undermine the organization’s and customer’s trust.

c. Enhances Operational Efficiency

Organizations using security technologies to maintain compliance can manage excess data, expose privacy loopholes, identify wasted assets, and implement new resources to improve operational efficiency.

For example, security management tools can also be deployed on the organization’s internal network. These solutions can identify people, processes, or applications on the network that are poorly managed or configured to drive maximum results.

d. Builds Security Culture

According to a 2022 Verizon report, 85% of data breaches in organizations involve a human element. While cloud-based assets encounter the most malicious attacks, passwords and credentials are the most sought-after data types. Developing a security culture across departments and workflow management systems helps employees follow safe digital practices and reduce risky behavior.

Organizations with robust security awareness and training programs share relevant knowledge and skills with employees, helping them identify safety breaches and follow appropriate measures to protect sensitive data.

e. Supports Access Controls and Accountability

Effective IT security compliance ensures that individuals with appropriate credentials can access databases and systems that contain sensitive data. Implementing security monitoring solutions ensures access to those systems is monitored at an organizational level, and every action with the system is recorded so that it can be traced back.

Such mechanisms help protect the security of sensitive customer data or an organization’s proprietary data. Additionally, providing a single user with specific credentials for a secure application is effective for securing and maintaining software license agreements (SLAs).

Conclusion

With an uptick in data breaches, security compliance today has become an important asset for organizations. It goes beyond checking boxes and starts employing robust security protocols and procedures to protect an organization’s most critical assets.

Security compliance compels organizations to identify any gaps in the existing IT security program that could not be identified without a compliance audit. Becoming compliant with industry-specific standards bolsters reputation and increases the chances of new business from security-minded customers.

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